D. Hamilton Jackson was the focus of the action Thursday at the Gifft Hill School’s “Culturalypso,” but the event also included other cultural activities.
Twelve-year-old Ty Massaquoi said, “He was a very important person. He made the first newspaper.” Massaquoi was helping younger students make jumbie masks as part of their cultural focus.
Kaitlyn Cummings, 13, who showed off puppets made by the students, said that Jackson visited the king of Denmark, which then owned the Virgin Islands, to secure the freedom of assembly and freedom of speech for Virgin Islands residents.
“It’s important to help kids learn about the history of the Virgin Island., D. Hamilton Jackson did a lot for the Virgin Islands,” Cummings said.
The Upper School students organized the activities while the Lower School students participated.
“The older kids love working with the little kids and the little kids worship the older kids,” said Head of School Judy Chamberlain as she strolled around Gifft Hill’s Trayser Field.
Cultural activities also included a presentation on the Day of the Dead, celebrated Nov. 1 in Mexico, about which history teacher Mary Willen explained that the use of marigold flowers were an old Aztec tradition that melded with Catholicism.
Further around the field, students made boats out of coconuts to reflect the territory’s seafaring tradition.
And Sarah Haynes, in charge of the school’s Education and Resiliency through Horticulture program – usually referred to as E.A.R.T.H. – was busy explaining to grandparent Ina Lee about Malabar spinach.
“It grows well here,” she said.
She sent Lee home with a sprouted spinach vine in a pot made of the bottom of a plastic bottle, showing one example of how the students re-use things that otherwise would go in the garbage.
The day also featured performances by the Rainbow Dancers, a Gifft Hill School dance group.
For the first time, vendors were invited to sell items at an agricultural market held at the entrance to the field. Only a few set up shop, but Joan Callwood was on hand with a tableful of local foods like tamarind jerked chicken, fried plantains, banana fritters, johnny cake and mango curry.
“It’s in my blood. I love to see kids eat good food,” she said.