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Thursday, June 1, 2023
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Golfer John Daly Headlines Celebrity Golf Classic

Popular pro golfer John Daly, sometime bad boy of the Professional Golfers Association, will be at the Beacon Schools Annual Celebrity Golf Classic this year.

The annual tournament is a fundraiser for the very successful after-school Beacon Schools Program, providing tutoring classes, arts and crafts, and sports activities to over 2,500 children and adults in the territory. They offer computer literacy classes, General Education Development test preparation, English as a second language, homework help and tutoring services in math, reading and other subjects.

This year the tournament is Sept. 24-27 at the Mahogany Run Golf Course on St. Thomas.

"We started 13 years ago with one school on each island, and now we have three on St. Croix, three on St. Thomas and one on St. John," said Pam Lancaster, assistant director of the program. "This year we will probably have over 3,000 students and adults. … It’s grown huge, and we’d love to take it to the next level."

While seven schools host Beacon, so long as parents provide transportation, any student can participate, regardless of what school they normally attend during the day.

Along with help in core academic areas for students, they offer classes in African drumming, cooking, crocheting, photography, chess and many other more life-enriching sorts of subjects.

This year they are adding more career-oriented activities and outings, Lancaster said.

"We are starting to do things like take older kids to radio stations so they can learn broadcasting," she said. "That’s the type of programs we are looking for. We would like to work with the Women’s Coalition, for instance. And the V.I. Energy Office, we’d love to have them come out and talk to the kids.

"They already work through vocational education, but with the green jobs initiatives coming from the federal government, we’d love to have someone come and show the kids about what are expected to be the jobs of the future."

The Beacon School is a private nonprofit organization which gets some money from the Education Department but most of its funding from private donations and fundraisers. The annual celebrity golf tournament provides 20 percent of its operating budget for the year.

"We have over 26 teams now and we only have room for four more," Lancaster said. "But we still have sponsorships available, and there is a beach barbecue and a gala on Saturday (during the tournament). If you are not a golfer, that’s a nice way to meet the celebrities and a lot of the sponsors."

The tournament also gives the territory national exposure, she said.

"It will probably be shown as many as 20 times next year on the Golf Channel," she said. "And the show will highlight the best of all three islands as well as scenes from the tournament. … After this year we will probably be among the top10 celebrity tournaments."

While they are looking for more sponsors, the level of support has been steadily growing, Lancaster said.

Niuniu Ji, founder of Intrepid Investments, and a "Presidential Sponsor" this year, urged businesses to take notice and help out.

"In these economically challenging times, it is even more important that the companies that can contribute step up and do so," Ji said in the tournament announcement. "We are pleased to take a leadership role in this effort and ask other Virgin Islands companies to contribute their support at whatever level they can."

Sponsorship forms and more information about the tournament and the Beacon School can be found at www.beaconschools.vi. Registration for the after school program is from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week at the schools hosting the program. On St. Croix those are Claude O. Markoe Elementary, Elena Christian Junior High and Juanita F. Gardine Elementary. On St. Thomas they are Addelita Cancryn Junior High and E. Benjamin Oliver Elementary and on St. John, Julius Sprauve Elementary. For more information on St. Croix you can call Lancaster at 772-3100 or on St. Thomas call Director Diana Parker at 777-9300.

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