In a show of support for Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, which had its tilapia farm vandalized last week, members of the school’s Parent Teacher Association were at the Kean campus gates Tuesday soliciting donations from the community to help rebuild and secure the facility.
Kean’s PTA and faculty unofficially designated Tuesday “Ivanna Eudora Kean High School Day” and have been asking the entire community to wear the school’s colors in a show of unified opposition against the vandalism, which wiped out the farm’s entire fish population.
Since the incident, Kean High Principal Sharon McCollum said the response from the community has “been overwhelming,” with the school receiving numerous phone calls and donations, with everyone from American Yacht Harbor – which presented the school with a $4,000 check Tuesday – to the Bureau of Corrections stepping in to help.
Local Inmates came to the school last week to help clean up the farm, and the Bureau of Corrections will also be giving 800 of their own tilapia fish to the school, according to the bureau’s director, Julius Wilson.
“We have always tried to help the school by doing work for them, and when we heard about this – it is such a tragedy, that affects both the school and the entire community – we responded,” Wilson said in a Source interview Tuesday.
Wilson said the Golden Grove Correctional Facility on St. Croix runs its own tilapia farm in conjunction with the University of the Virgin Islands, which is well known for its aquaponics work and program.
“Right now, we’re working with UVI on getting the fish over,” Wilson said Tuesday. The bureau’s tilapia farm is a rehabilitative effort, and the fish harvested through the program are donated to local nonprofits and senior citizen facilities, he added.
McCollum said the collaboration with Corrections is thanks in large part to Lt. Gov. Gregory R. Francis, who she said “really went the extra mile for the school” in getting the fish replaced and the farm grounds clean.
At this point, the school will be focusing on securing the facility with additional cameras, better lighting and overnight security guards, McCollum added Tuesday. She also said that water samples taken from the school’s fish tanks last Thursday are still being tested; the school is awaiting the results and continues to work with law enforcement on reviewing surveillance footage of the area.