86th Birthday Party for Founder Sis Frank Raises $25,000 for St. John School of the Arts

SJSA alumnus Shatik Stevens led the crowd in singing art school founder Sis Frank “Happy 86th Birthday.”

Six young performers wowed a crowd of about 50 residents at the St. John School of the Arts donor’s reception and fundraiser on Tuesday, May 4, at the arts school in Cruz Bay.

While helping to raise about $25,000, the crowd also delighted in singing SJSA founder Ruth “Sis” Frank a happy 86th birthday along with SJSA teacher and alumni Shatik Stevens.

All of the SJSA performers were recipients of the merit scholarship created in Frank’s name and they lived up to, and far exceeded expectations.

“These performers are not scholarship students based on need,” said SJSA director Jan Kinder. “All of these students earned these scholarships by merit alone. These students are examples for our entire school.”

Kainoa Metcalf played Carl Philip Bach’s “Solfeggio in C minor” on piano. Christin Marsh performed a swinging “New Orleans Blues” by William Gillock also on the piano.

Next up was the remarkable Jonte Samuel on saxophone accompanied by Tabari Lake on stand up bass. The duo performed three pieces, “Billy’s Bounce,” “Remember Me,” and “Oleo.”

Tyler Stephen wrapped up the instrumental portion of the show with a brilliant rendition of Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Sonatina.”

After clearing the stage, an accomplished Kaitlyn Cummings took the stage performing her very own choreographed dance The Swift Song, to “Fruhlingslied” by Felix Mendelssohn.

The always impressive Savannah Lyons took the stage next, dancing to Van Halen’s “The Synthesizer, the Guitar and the Tutu,” choreographed by SJSA’s very own Kim Wild.

Shatik Stevens capped the evening off with a moving rendition of “Orange Sky” by Milton DeLugg and Willie Stein, with Harvey Werbel accompanying on piano.

After the closing notes of “Orange Sky” faded away, Stevens led the audience in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” for Sis Frank, a pillar of the St. John community and founder of SJSA.

Frank no doubt made a meaningful wish as she blew out her two candles — an eight and a six.

“I couldn’t thank you enough, all of you,” said Frank. “I can’t thank you enough for sending your children here and for supporting us. It’s so wonderful to have young people who really love the arts and who really practice.”

“I know what parents go through with the practicing, but it’s so important,” Frank said. “And as you can see, the results are pretty wonderful.”

After watching their operating budget get perilously close to drying up, SJSA kicked off a fund raising effort and were immediately met with enthusiasm and success.

“We have accomplished a great deal in a very short amount of time,” said Kinder. “Our fundraising has allowed us to keep our doors open and will allow us to host another summer writing camp.”

Led by SJSA board member Fay Fredericks, the summer writing camp incorporates dramatic arts, composition, dance, music and cultural studies.

“It’s an excellent program and a great opportunity for our students,” said Kinder.

The school is still collecting donations in hopes of reaching its operating goal of $34,000. Donations can be sent SJSA, Box 180, St. John, VI 00831. For more information about the school check out their website at www.stjohnschoolofthearts.org.