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CTE Board Enthusiastic About New Curriculum Standards, Yet Anxious Over Apprenticeship Support



In a recent meeting of the V.I. Career and Technical Board, members were vocal about pivotal matters surrounding the vocational and technical education sphere in the territory, even in the absence of a quorum for most of the session.

Dr. Monique Faulkner, who serves as the state director for Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the Department of Education, informed the CTE board about the initiation of a program to standardize the career and technical education syllabus.

Senator Genevieve Whitaker had previously voiced concerns over the exclusion of the CTE board in crucial decision-making exercises related to educational policies in the technical sector. To this, Dr. Faulkner assured board members of their and the Board of Education’s involvement in this curricular overhaul. Emphasizing the nearing contract acquisition for the curriculum standardization, Dr. Faulkner highlighted the significance of unified efforts. “It’s vital for all stakeholders to join forces and provide direction, ensuring the project aligns with our collective vision,” she commented.

CTE Board Chair, Joane Murphy, raised queries about the expected timeline for the new curriculum’s rollout. Dr. Faulkner responded with an anticipated launch by the start of “the upcoming academic year.” This standardized curriculum aims to offer consistent learning experiences across different institutions in the territory. Consequently, transitioning students will have a seamless educational experience, equipped with the foundational knowledge essential for higher education.

Joane Murphy expressed her anticipation, stating, “This initiative is indeed promising.”

Addressing apprenticeship schemes, Board Secretary Dr. Suzanne Magras shared that among the 38 companies partaking in the apprenticeship initiative, 11 have registered apprenticeships. She remarked, “There’s a visible uptrend in participation, and even if the pace isn’t ideal, progress is consistent.” Yet, the ‘Skills For Today’ initiative, known for entirely funding apprentice salaries for a year, is nearing its conclusion. This development is causing apprehensions among partnering companies regarding the program’s sustainability without wage support. Dr. Magras hinted at a potential funding alternative, pledging to explore this avenue further.

The potential of apprenticeships as a means to prepare instructors in the career and technical domain became a talking point. Chairwoman Murphy proposed the idea of reallocating funds earmarked for D.O.E.’s vacant roles towards an apprenticeship scheme for budding CTE tutors. Dr. Faulkner, however, believed that experienced professionals might prefer more adaptive teaching methods. “Established professionals often seek flexibility. They might not wish to be tethered to a classroom and would rather engage on a need basis,” she opined.

The conversation then gravitated towards the formulation of a state plan for CTE. Although not obligatory, both Dr. Faulkner and Ms. Murphy concurred on its desirability. Dr. Faulkner did, however, caution about the rigorous stipulations from the Division of Academic and Technical Education making it a formidable endeavor. Undeterred, Ms. Murphy pledged the CTE Board’s full support, recognizing the importance of community dialogues to further this mission.

The meeting eventually concluded following the late arrival of several board members, which finally established a quorum, allowing for the ratification of pending minutes.

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Gifft Hill School Graduates Awarded Ruby Rutnik Scholarship



Two Gifft Hill School graduates have been awarded the prestigious Ruby Rutnik Scholarship for the 2024-25 academic year. De-necia Baxter and Liandra Dagou, both aspiring nursing students, will each receive $2,500 towards their tuition as they embark on their college journeys at the University of the Virgin Islands.

De-necia Baxter and Liandra Dagou, recognized for their academic achievements and community involvement, were selected for their commitment to pursuing nursing degrees. Their passion for healthcare and dedication to their studies have set them apart as deserving recipients of this scholarship, which honors the memory of Ruby Rutnik, a former standout softball player and beloved member of the St. John community.

The Ruby Rutnik Scholarship Fund, established in memory of Ruby Rutnik who tragically passed away in 1996, has been supporting young women from St. John in their educational pursuits for over two decades. Ruby’s parents created the fund and a related softball tournament to provide financial assistance to students, ensuring that her legacy continues to inspire and support the community she loved. The scholarship has awarded over $199,000 to more than 60 recipients since its inception.

De-necia Baxter and Liandra Dagou’s selection underscores the fund’s mission to empower young women through education. Both students have expressed their gratitude and excitement for the opportunities this scholarship will provide as they start their college careers.

De-necia Baxter has been actively involved in various community service projects and has shown a strong interest in healthcare from a young age. Her dedication to her studies and her compassionate nature make her an ideal candidate for the nursing program at the University of the Virgin Islands. Liandra Dagou, equally passionate about healthcare, has excelled academically and participated in numerous extracurricular activities. Her commitment to helping others and her academic prowess have earned her this well-deserved recognition.

The Ruby Rutnik Scholarship not only provides financial support but also serves as a tribute to Ruby’s enduring spirit and the positive impact she had on those around her. The scholarship fund continues to receive support from the community, with contributions ensuring that more young women can achieve their educational goals.

Contributions to the Ruby Rutnik Scholarship Fund can be made by sending checks payable to Gifft Hill School, noting RRSF on the memo line, to GHS, PO Box 1657, St. John, VI 00831. This support is crucial in maintaining the scholarship and honoring Ruby Rutnik’s legacy for future generations.

As De-necia Baxter and Liandra Dagou prepare to begin their college education, the Gifft Hill School community celebrates their achievements and looks forward to their future successes in the field of nursing.

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Virgin Islands Students Shine in Academic Excellence Across U.S. Colleges and Universities



The Virgin Islands Daily News proudly recognizes the academic achievements of Virgin Islands students who have been named to the Dean’s List for the Spring 2024 semester at their respective colleges and universities. This honor is awarded to students who have demonstrated exceptional dedication and academic prowess, maintaining high grade point averages amidst their rigorous coursework.

Warner University

Warner University announced its Spring 2024 Dean’s List, celebrating the exceptional academic achievements of 225 students from both graduate and undergraduate programs. This recognition reflects their outstanding performance and commitment to academic excellence throughout the semester​ (Warner University)​.

Fisk University

At Fisk University, several Virgin Islands students were acknowledged for their academic success. The Dean’s List at Fisk University requires students to achieve a grade point average of 3.50 or higher. This semester, students like Ann Ebhounu and Jessica Grimes have showcased their hard work and dedication, earning a spot on this prestigious list​ (Fisk University)​.

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

N.C. A&T State University also highlighted its students’ achievements, with several from the Virgin Islands making it to the Dean’s List. The university prides itself on inspiring students to exceed expectations and achieve remarkable success in their academic endeavors​ (NCAT)​.

Augusta University

Augusta University recognized its top-performing students for the Spring 2024 semester. The institution, known for its world-class academic and social community, commended its Virgin Islands students for their outstanding academic records, which have positioned them for future opportunities and success​ (Augusta University)​.

Sauk Valley Community College

Sauk Valley Community College included Virgin Islands students in its Dean’s List, acknowledging their impressive academic achievements. The college encourages a balance between coursework and extracurricular activities, supporting students in reaching their full academic potential​ (Sauk Valley Community College)​.

These recognitions across various institutions highlight the significant presence and impact of Virgin Islands students in higher education. Their achievements not only bring pride to their families and communities but also set a high standard for future generations. The dedication and hard work of these students exemplify the values of perseverance and academic excellence.

The Virgin Islands Daily News extends heartfelt congratulations to all the students who have earned a place on the Dean’s List for the Spring 2024 semester. Their success serves as an inspiration to all aspiring scholars from the Virgin Islands.

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Department of Education Seeks Approval for FEMA-Funded Rebuild of St. Croix Central High School at Upcoming CZM Meeting



The V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources (DPNR) has announced a pivotal St. Croix Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Committee meeting scheduled for Thursday, June 20, at 5:30 p.m. via Microsoft Teams. Key topics include the proposed rebuilding of St. Croix Central High School using FEMA funds.

DPNR Commissioner Jean-Pierre L. Oriol stated that the agenda would highlight several vital infrastructure projects aimed at bolstering the island’s resilience and community amenities. The primary focus will be on the V.I. Department of Education’s proposal, under Federal Consistency Determination No. CZM0028-23, seeking approval to utilize FEMA funds for the demolition and reconstruction of St. Croix Central High School. This significant project, located at Track 3 Upper Bethlehem in Christiansted, represents a major initiative to modernize the island’s educational infrastructure.

The committee will also deliberate on enhancements to Highway 75. Under Federal Consistency Determination No. CZM0017-23, the V.I. Department of Public Works intends to improve roadway geometry, install underground electrical distributions, and make several other safety and accessibility improvements along the north shore road west of Christiansted.

Another major item on the agenda is the V.I. Water and Power Authority’s (WAPA) proposal, under Federal Consistency Determination No. CZM0005-24, to use FEMA funds for burying utility lines along Queen Mary Highway to VITEMA Road. This project aims to enhance the electrical power resilience for the VITEMA Headquarters and nearby residents.

Public testimony will be welcomed during the hearings on the highway and utility projects, but no testimonies will be heard during the decision meeting on the high school project.

Interested parties can participate or view the proceedings with the following meeting details:

  • Meeting ID: 290 917 297 230
  • Passcode: aoPusj

Relevant documents and additional information are available on the DPNR website under the Federal Consistency and permitting sections. This meeting highlights the Virgin Islands government’s ongoing efforts to address critical infrastructure needs by effectively leveraging federal funds to ensure the territory’s resilience and development.

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