Antilles School kicked off its capital campaign, "Imagine the Possibilities," last year, with an ambitious goal of $6 million — $2 million to enhance the school's endowment for financial aid and faculty development support and $4 million to build badly needed new facilities.
The school plans to build a new library, outdoor amphitheater, theater and fine arts complex, fieldhouse and four new classrooms. Every classroom is now in use every period of the day in the Middle and Upper School.
Antilles plans to break ground for the new library this summer and sought the support of the Benedict Foundation to fund the transformation of the current Upper School Library into a new classroom.
Created in 1983 by Peter B. Benedict, the Benedict Foundation is located in Florida. It supports independent secondary schools, with an emphasis on well-established schools with steady or growing enrollment which lack substantial financial resources of their own.
The Benedict Foundation honored Antilles with a $15,000 matching grant. As the school began to seek a match, John Percy deJongh Sr., who was widely admired and respected for both his outstanding legal mind and his service to the Virgin Islands community, unexpectedly died. Jim Hindels and Sam Hall, deJongh's partners for many years in the law firm Birch, deJongh, Hindels & Hall, wanted to memorialize deJongh in an appropriate way.
"John was an incredibly bright person," said Hall, a former president of the Board of Trustees of Antilles School. "A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, he believed strongly in the value of education. Jim and I are past parents of Antilles students. John's grandchildren go there now. Antilles seemed like the perfect place to remember John."
Hindels, who eulogized John deJongh Sr. at his Memorial Service in October, agreed that his former partner would be pleased with this gift. "Nothing was more important to John than education. He believed that education was the way to success in life. This is a small payback for what education did for him."
The law firm of Birch, deJongh, Hindels & Hall committed $15,000 to match the Benedict Foundation grant.
Hall and Hindels knew that to name the classroom for John deJongh Sr., a total contribution of $50,000 was needed and they determined to make this happen. Hall decided to dedicate his previous $4,000 contribution to this purpose.
When John deJongh Jr. and his wife Cecile, a former member of the Board of Trustees, learned of the gift from Birch, deJongh, Hindels & Hall, and the $50,000 goal, they were also excited about naming a room to honor John deJongh Sr.
"We are also very touched by the generosity of Sam and Jim," John deJongh Jr. said. "We decided to commit $7,500 to this cause ourselves, and my brothers Stanley and Sydney and sisters Judy and Mary have pledged the remainder needed to reach the $50,000 total. We all know how strongly my father believed in the value of education, in Antilles School and in working to better the community. He would be very happy with this tribute."
Thus John Percy deJongh Sr. will be memorialized because of a joining together by many generous people – the Benedict Foundation, the law firm of Birch, deJongh, Hindels & Hall, Sam Hall, John deJongh Jr. and his wife Cecile, Judy and spouse Michael McCoy, Stanley and his son Tommy Douglas deJongh, Sydney and LaMae deJongh and Mary and Douglas Frate.


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