Feb. 15, 2006 – Thirty Virgin Islands students at two elementary schools did their homework to come up with essays on important Virgin Islanders for a U.S. Justice Department Black History Month essay contest.
"We think it's important for students to know about their history," said Assistant U.S. Attorney James Carroll on Wednesday.
"We learned a lot from the essays," Carroll said, adding that the essays sparked discussion in the Justice Department office, including one on the fact unknown to the attorneys that the late Gov. Cyril E. King served in the 10th Legislature.
Students from Juanita Gardine Elementary School on St. Croix and J. Antonio Jarvis Elementary School on St. Thomas were selected by the Justice Department offices on both islands to participate in the essay contest because the office had previously held mentoring programs at those schools.
U.S. Attorney Anthony Jenkins said in a news release issued Tuesday that funding constraints limit the contest to one school in each district. Schools that want to get on the list should contact the office.
First-place winners at each school received $200 U.S. savings bonds. Second- and third-place winners got $100 savings bonds.
Carroll said the winners were chosen by staff at the schools.
Ryan Shaw won first place at Juanita F. Gardine for his essay on "Virgin Islanders who have made a difference."
He wrote that while there were others who made a difference in his life, including his mother Caroline Carpenter, it was teacher Juanita F. Gardine who "really grabs my attention."
"I am proud to attend a school named after such an important Virgin Islander," Shaw wrote. I want to make a difference just like Juanita F. Gardine.
Second place at Juanita Gardine went to Jennings Gilbert for his essay, also on "A famous Virgin Islander," written about basketball star Tim Duncan.
Bryan Peterson won third place for "The Accomplishments of Alton Adams."
Bliss D. Bully took first place at J. Antonio Jarvis for his essay on Rothschild Francis.
Bully pointed out that even in the 1930s, Virgin Islanders were denied democratic privileges they deserved as part of the United States. "Rothschild Francis fought against the Virgin Islands being denied democratic privileges," Bully wrote.
Malika Fahie won second place at J. Antonio Jarvis for the essay on "A Virgin Islander who made a difference – David Hamilton Jackson."
Aaron Richardson won third place at Jarvis Elementary for his essay on Gov. Cyril E. King.
Prizes were awarded Wednesday in ceremonies at each of the schools. Superior Court Judge Audrey Thomas handed out the prizes at J. Antonio Jarvis. Joel Tutein, superintendent at all National Park Service sites on St. Croix, awarded the prizes at Juanita Gardine.
This is the first year the Justice Department office has held the contest.
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