May 18, 2004 – With their jingle "Smile V.I. Style," the students from the Leonard Dober Elementary School choir took first place in the V.I. Hotel and Tourism Association's Tommy Starfish Jingle Contest.
Student groups from J. Antonio Jarvis and Joseph Sibilly Schools also participated in the contest.
Beverly Nicholson, the hotel association president, said the organization decided to hold the contest for elementary students to come up with a jingle to help introduce the group's mascot, Tommy Starfish, at public events. "We thought, what better way to do this than getting our students involved?" she said.
The jingles submitted by the three schools were aired on Knight Quality Stations, and listeners had an opportunity to fax in their votes for their favorite. A hotel association panel made the final decision on Monday, and the winner was announced at a luncheon on Tuesday at Coral World.
Tommy Starfish danced as all three jingles were played before Dober was announced as the winner.
The first line of the Dober jingle is: "When you come to the V.I., we want you to smile V.I. style." Music teacher Malvern Gumbs wrote the words and composed the music. "I thought that I had a good choir and felt that the kids had the capability and were excited about it," Gumbs said.
Fifth grader Chelsea Marshall was lead singer for the jingle, with the other 31 choir members singing backup. Chelsea said it was exciting to participate in the competition, and that she was confident that her school would win. "The other schools sound good," she said, "but not as good as we were."
Dober received a $1,000 check from the hotel association for its music education program. Principal Elise Warner said the money would go toward the purchase of musical instruments for students in the program who cannot afford to buy their own.
Sibilly and Jarvis Schools were presented $250 checks.
Nicholson said the judges had a hard time deciding on a winning jingle. "It really speaks volumes of the quality of music education in our public schools and the talent of our children," she said.
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