April 6, 2004 — As parents, students and faculty celebrated Transfer Day in the Pearl B. Larsen Elementary School cafetorium, the school received an unexpected gift of new dining chairs from Belair Quartz of St. Croix, a local watch factory.
The new chairs are a result of Sen. Luther Renee's quarterly visits to schools throughout the territory.
"We are attempting to give the school a helping hand," said Lisa Harris, public relations specialist for Renee.
After visiting the school and meeting with its administration, Renee gathered a wish list of items needed to provide a healthy environment in which to serve meals to the 578 elementary students.
"This is not acceptable," he said about a wobbly chair with a frayed cushion. In a release, the senator said he was dismayed by "the deplorable condition of the tables and chairs in the school's cafeteria."
Belair Time Corporation, the parent company of Belair Quartz of St. Croix, donated $1,000 for the project. When contacted to learn about the company's role in the community, Shirley Bassue, project facilitator, humbly declined comment. Calls to the company's president, Alan Grunwald, were not returned.
The purchase was facilitated by Gallows Bay Hardware, which sold the chairs at cost.
Harris said, "Our goal is to revamp the whole cafeteria, but the economy is tight." Another company, Alliance Management, has contacted both the school and the senator, pledging its support for the cafetorium's face-lift. Representatives from Alliance will meet this week with the school's principal, Maria Encarnacion.
The school also needs to replace air conditioner window units for classrooms and folding tables for the cafetorium. "We do have community support," said Encarnacion. "He [Sen. Renee] did fill a great need."
Encarnacion also thanked the Department of Public Works for paving the parking lot that had been destroyed by November's torrential rains. She said she put in a call to Antonio Messer, a technical assistant with DPW, who said he had a team paving roads on the East End and assured her that he would remedy the problem. Earlier that week, a teacher sprained her ankle when her foot lodged in a pothole.
Harris said, "Through the collaborative efforts of many privately owned organizations, Sen. Renee has been successful in donating tables, chairs, electronic equipment and nurse's supplies."
She added that businesses and organizations have been very helpful with assisting schools.
According to a report provided by Sen. Renee's office, community donations to school-based initiatives in St. Croix total $3,245 to date. Donations have included monies, frequent flyer miles and professional services.
Six schools, both public and private, have been recipients of the community collaborations. They include Alexander Henderson Elementary, St. Patrick's Catholic School, St. Croix Educational Complex, The Manor School, St. Croix Central High School and Larsen.
"Sen. Renee, in his capacity as a senator and as an educator, remains steadfast in his quest to assist all schools in every possible instance," said Harris.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice… click here.