Since hurricanes Irma and Maria wreaked havoc on several educational institutions in the Virgin Islands, many schools have had to relocate their students. Thomas/St. John Seventh-day Adventist School, located in St. Thomas, lost 80 percent of its roof, suffered damaged walls, and chairs, desks, and computers were destroyed.
“We have been operating from two sites so far because our school was so badly damaged,” said Whitman Browne, principal of the school. Teachers and the 163 currently enrolled primary and secondary students of Adventist school have been attending classes at the Shiloh Adventist Church and the City Adventist Church in St. Thomas.
Thanks to a non-profit organization called All Hands International, the school is closer to rebuilding.
All Hands Volunteers is a volunteer-powered disaster relief organization dedicated to Rebuilding Hope for people impacted by natural disasters all over the world. Over the last 12 years, they have enabled over 39,000 volunteers to donate 200,000 days impacting 500,000 people worldwide.
When asked what prompted the non-profit offer of aid, team leader Hana Wyatt simply responded, “We saw a need and decided to assist in cleaning.”
For two weeks in January, a team of 30 volunteers cleaned p the school’s premises by removing dry wall, ceiling tiles and instructional tools which were damaged, school officials said.
“We did well,” said Wyatt, “All that needs to be done is the sanitization of the building and the erection of a stable roof.” Wyatt said that after the 2017 hurricane season, All Hands International has impacted the lives of over 4,700 persons and has been involved at 149 debris removal sites.
Principal Browne has never seen the Adventist school hit so hard in its 62-year history.
“I am very happy for their help,” said Browne. “They came from afar off to help us – some of them from different parts of the mainland and as far as Australia.”
Browne hopes that repairs and rebuilding can begin soon so that the start of the new school year later in August will see students and teachers back in their classrooms on campus.
For the last three years, The St. Thomas/St. John Seventh-day Adventist School has been voted the Best Private School on St. Thomas. It is an accredited institution with a stable and committed staff that provides the community with quality education for students from Kindergarten to grade 12.