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HomeNewsArchivesV.I. Traditions Come Alive at 'In De Yard' Cultural Day

V.I. Traditions Come Alive at 'In De Yard' Cultural Day

Jan. 25, 2007 — The sounds of happy children rang out over the grounds of the Reichhold Center Friday as more than 600 students from the territory’s schools participated in the “In De Yard” Children’s Cultural Day.
Between 9 a.m. and noon, teachers, students and Reichhold volunteers enjoyed a beautiful morning away from classes and joined in many organized activities, including quadrille dance and costume making, storytelling, banjo-making, maypole plaiting, hopscotch and even go-cart construction.
Designed to expose elementary school children to hands-on cultural activities, "In De Yard" was a rousing success, as students proudly wore the headpieces they fashioned or played the instruments they made.
The children were captivated by the stories of Gene Emanuel and songs by banjo master, Camille “King Derby” Macedon — both of whom stressed the importance of passing on the islands’ traditions and culture.
Emanuel made his listeners pay attention with the traditional call and answer. “When I say 'Cric,' you say 'Crac,'" he said, to which the students eagerly complied. After finishing his session, the storyteller told his audience, “If you pay that close attention in school, you will fly like an eagle.”
The morning was filled with 18 sessions of rotating games and activities taking place concurrently. The workshops and demonstrations, led by community culture bearers, included: traditional quadrille dances with Jennifer Toussaint, Patricia Rogers, Yvette Finch and Carmen Benjamin; storytelling with Gilbert Sprauve, Laba Smith, Gene Emanuel, Troy Powell and John Mayers Jr.; maypole plaiting with Mrs. Ayala; go-cart construction with Walter “Cupid” Lewis; and much more.
Emanuel, a Humanities professor at UVI said, “Someone has to keep carrying this culture on, and culture is my area at UVI…. These kids will remember these stories, they have tremendous memory and it introduces them to the culture.” Emanuel added that he has a project in the works with Lockhart School to teach both students and teachers alike the art of storytelling.
“In De Yard” is an outgrowth of Reichhold Center’s Playing Ring concert series, which promotes local culture. The children’s day is a collaborative effort between the Reichhold Center for the Arts, the Virgin Islands Department of Education and the Virgin Islands Council on the Arts.
The children attending “In De Yard” represented public and private schools on all three islands. Schools scheduled to attend included: Gladys Abraham, Ulla Muller, Leonard Dober, Joseph Gomez, J. Antonio Jarvis, Joseph Sibilly, Lockhart, Jane E. Tuitt, Guy Benjamin, Julius Sprauve, Moravian, Antilles, All Saints, Sts. Peter and Paul, Seventh Day Adventist, and Montessori. 85 St. Croix students attended from Ricardo Richards, Charles H. Emmanuel and Claude O. Marko Elementary Schools.
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