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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, July 2, 2022


Elementary and pre-school children living on St. John's East End will soon have a new literary and educational resource in an old historic setting.
The Young People's Learning Center, to be located in the old Coral Bay rum factory, is to open formally on Feb. 26, according to Clarence Cuthbertson, its director. He said the facility will have books, videos and computer resources for children ages 4 to 12.
The bay rum factory was restored in the 1990s with Planning and Natural Resources Department help. With encouragement from the Coral Bay community, the facility became a home for youth group activities.
More than 750 books have already arrived at the center, and that many more are on the way, Cuthbertson says. Some of the $5,000 donated by the United Way of St. Thomas/St. John has been used to install shelving.
Until recently, St. John students needing library services had a choice of the Elaine I. Sprauve Library in Cruz Bay and the two public school libraries in Coral Bay and Cruz Bay. Last month, the private Pine Peace School held a formal opening for its new library and community resource center.
Cuthbertson says he will use his background as a playwright to make the new learning center more than a library. "We're using art and reading to increase their literary mechanism," he said, and he plans to invite storytellers and host periodic video social events. With the help of two volunteers, he'll offer students tutorial assistance. For the grand opening, Cuthbertson, who is also director of the Carabana Ensemble Theater Company, plans to stage one of his own plays.
His is not the only extracurricular learning center to emerge on the Eastern End. A few months ago, the John's Folly Learning Institute began offering programs for students of similar age. There is talk of a private Coral Bay middle school opening in the fall.
Administrators for the two youth centers have been talking about how they can provide mutual support for their goals and activities, Cuthbertson says. Tthere will be no conflict between the two groups, he says, because the John's Folly facility emphasizes outdoor activities and environmental education.

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