Montessori School Holds Grand Opening

April 14, 2009 — St. John's Montessori School in John's Folly opened its doors last September, but the first-year issues finally settled down enough for the school to hold a grand opening ceremony Tuesday.
"This day holds promise for our children and our world," said Eric Zucker, whose daughter, Amelie, 3, attends the school.
Zucker is a firm believer in the Montessori system of education. He attended the St. Thomas Montessori School until the fourth grade.
Parent Kish Frett sends her daughter Nevaeh Frett, 4, to the school.
"It was time for her to get out of the house," she said, laughing.
The Montessori School building has a long history in the educational field. It started its life way back when as the Horace Mann School. After that school closed, the building remained empty and deteriorating for decades until a group of John's Folly-area parents rehabilitated the building into the John's Folly Learning Institute.
After some years of use for afterschool and summer programs, as well as a community center, the building was again transformed into a school.
The Montessori students who attend the school stole the show with their rendition of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds."
"This is my message to you," they sang to the delight of several dozen parents, grandparents and government officials who attended. "Everything's gonna be all right."
The school has 14 students, Director Debra Polucci said. She was pleased at the response to the school from the St. John community. People stop her on the street to ask if there is anything the school needs.
Long-retired educator Guy Benjamin was the guest of honor. He taught at Horace Mann School in 1934 before going on to a long and distinguished career in the territory's educational system. The public school in Coral Bay is named in his honor, and Education Commissioner La Verne Terry acknowledged him in her remarks.
"It's a pleasure to be here and in touch with history," she said.
Terry promised that if there was anything she could do personally or as commissioner to assist the school, the school should contact her.
Promises of help also came from two members of the V.I. Legislature: Sen. Wayne James, who chairs the Youth, Education and Culture Committee, and Sen. Craig Barshinger, who serves on the legislative committee.
James also spoke about the importance of the island's elders interacting with the young students.
"There's a belief in African culture that older people should be with younger people, because older people are on their way to the spirit world and younger people have just come from the spirit world," he said.
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