St. Croix students who completed the 11th Annual Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge in September were treated to a fun day at the Agriculture Fair Grounds on Dec. 7, where Juanita Gardine K-8 School was announced as the school with the most books read—a combined total of 2,085 books among the school’s students who participated in this year’s challenge.
The Gardine students were some of the 406 students in grades K-6 attending St. Croix’s public, private and parochial schools who were part of the challenge. They account for reading 2,939 books to complete the 2019 Reading Challenge, which encouraged them to read five or more books during the summer months. All students received a certificate of completion and a gift bag with school items.
This is the third consecutive year Gardine K-8, formerly Juanita Gardine Elementary School, has earned the title. For the 2019 Reading Challenge, which ran from June 6 to Sept. 20, Gardine students submitted 276 tracking sheets identifying the books they read. Assistant Principal Anna Gordon, joined by students, Government House and Department of Education officials, accepted a trophy and a bag of classroom supplies at the fun day. The event featured face painting, dance performances, outdoor games, science experiments, prize giveaways, food, music and more.
A highlight of the celebration was the appearance of Ase Moko Jumbies, under the direction of Valrica Bryson, Department of Education director of Virgin Islands Cultural Education. The eight-member student group wowed the audience with dips, turns and a variety of daring dance moves performed on stilts. The St. Croix Educational Complex High School Marching Band dancers, under the direction of Essie Gaston Edwards, did not disappoint and further excited the crowd with a series of high-spirited dance routines.
Sammuel Sanes, former senator and current St. Croix administrator, representing the Office of the Governor, congratulated students and parents. “Students, we are so proud of your accomplishments, but we also want to congratulate the parents for bringing their children here today and for encouraging them to participate in the challenge,” he said.
St. Croix District Superintendent Carlos McGregor also extended congratulatory remarks to the students, saying, “The Reading Challenge is a great way for our students to remain engaged with learning during the summer, and the superintendent’s office congratulates each of you for reading and completing the challenge.”
Children’s author Rick Grant, a three-time Reading Challenge author whose book, “Health and Safety for You and Me” was one of six books distributed to students for the 2019 Reading Challenge, congratulated students and told them that they could become authors one day, too.
Reading Challenge coordinator, Denise Gomes, stressed the importance of literacy. Literacy is a foundational step to ensuring students achieve academic success,” she said. “The Reading Challenge offers a fun way for students to learn and hone their literacy skills. We are proud of every student who completed the challenge.”
Local agencies have long partnered with the Office of the Governor and the Department of Education to make the annual celebration a success. This year, the Department of Agriculture, V.I. Fire Service, Department of Tourism and WTJX provided students with reading and coloring materials, potted plants, reusable bags and electronic games.
Other dignitaries in attendance were Gov. Bryan’s chief of staff Karl Knight, Sen. Javan James Sr., and Board of Education member Mary Moorhead, St. Croix Deputy Superintendent Dr. Carla Bastian, curriculum and instruction staff members as well as student and teacher volunteers.