Following Public’s Generosity, Gifft Hill School Is Paying Forward

Gifft Hill School students celebrate giving back.

The 2018-2019 school year is well underway at the Gifft Hill School (GHS), and thanks to the public’s continued support, its students are thriving. Island classrooms have kept staff and students busy with visits to ruins to learn about history and local culture, testing ocean water in environmental science classes, and designing and building fences around the school’s gardens in STEAM Lab.

Behind the scenes, repairs continue. One of the most popular recent fixes by student athletes were repairing the surface of Trayser Field and building a new fence. A sports program is up and running again with varsity and junior varsity girls’ volleyball, junior varsity flag football and cross-country practicing and competing weekly.

Teaching the value of giving and community is core to the philosophy of Gifft Hill School. In the 2018-2019 school year, over 80 percent of Gifft Hill’s student body will receive tuition assistance as the island continues to recover, and they are truly appreciative of the opportunity they have been given. November is a month of gratitude and GHS kicked it off with its annual day of community service: “GHS Gives Back.” All students from preschool to grade 12 worked on service projects across St. John to pay forward the generosity and support the school has received.

Gifft Hill students during cleanup of park

Projects this year ranged from lionfish removal with the National Parks Service; cleaning Haulover Beach and Lindpoint Trail with Friends of the National Park; working at the recycling center with Island Green Living and Island Love Recycling; and helping organize spaces at Julius E Sprauve School; walking dogs and cleaning cat cages at the Animal Care Center (ACC); repairing fences at Carolina Corral; helping clean and sort donated goods at local churches; and picking up trash in both Cruz Bay and Coral Bay.

Younger Gifft Hill students spend time with senior citizens

The preschool and pre-K students remained on campus and hosted a lunch for seniors catered by the school chef, while the fifth graders painted Connections East and Skinny Legs, and high schoolers weeded the Gifft Garden with the St. John Community Foundation. A lemonade-stand outside Connections in Cruz Bay raised $1,196 for the ACC, St. John Cancer Fund and St. John Children’s Fund, with matching funds being donated by the St. John Community Foundation.

This year, All Hands and Hearts, the disaster relief organization, worked alongside GHS students to double the impact. It was a tiring, exhilarating and rewarding day.