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Thursday, August 18, 2022
HomeNewsArchives'Kids First!' Gives $30,000 for Gifft Hill School Scholarships

'Kids First!' Gives $30,000 for Gifft Hill School Scholarships

"Kids First!," a non-profit organization that helps fund early childhood education on St. John, donated $30,000 to Gifft Hill School to help pay for scholarships for students in the school’s pre-school program for 3- through 5-year olds.

“We are really making a difference,” said the group’s president, Bruce Claflin.

Since the program began three years ago, Claflin said the scholarship program paid for "80 student years" at Gifft Hill. He said that the scholarship pays for part of the tuition, with the parents coming up with the remainder.

“Most parents can afford something,” he said.

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He said the pre-school tuition runs around $6,000 to $7,000 a year.

This grant is the largest ever made by "Kids First!" and is its third major gift to Gifft Hill School’s early learning program, Claflin said.

An anonymous donor matched the grant by "Kids First!" to bring the total available to $60,000, Claflin said.

The group raised some of the money through its villa rental donation program. Claflin said that some St. John vacation villa owners gave 2 percent of their rental income to the organization. In turn, the group promotes those villas on its website. The website lists 10 vacation villas, most in the Catherineberg area.

The rest of the $30,000 gave from small and large donations, Claflin said.

Since the territory’s public schools do not offer preschool and the federally-funded Head Start program is filled, he said children whose parents want to send them to pre-school must attend a private school. However, the cost of beyond the reach of most families.

“Our grant to Gifft Hill will allow more children to attend a quality pre-school program than would otherwise be the case,” Claflin said.

Gifft Hill School Head of School Judy Chamberlain called early childhood the most important period in a person’s life for the development of intelligence, personality and social behavior.

“The foundation established between birth and age 8 is crucial,” she said.

More can be learned about "Kids First!" by visiting www.kidsfirststj.org. More information about Gifft Hill School’s scholarships can be obtained by calling Beth Jones or Molly Murrill at the school’s development office, 776-1730, or sending an e-mail to ghsdevelopment@mac.com, or visiting www.giffthillschool.org.

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