These GHS students were sad to see summer end.
Gifft Hill School’s head of school Judy Chamberlain welcomed students in grades six through 12 to a new school year at the Upper Campus on Tuesday morning, September 6.
Kicking off the first day of school, students gathered in the auditorium at the GHS Upper Campus to hear from Chamberlain about the upcoming year, which, unlike last year, started on time this September.
“The first thing we must acknowledge is that last year the opening of school was delayed because of Hurricane Earl,” said Chamberlain. “The start of the school year is always hectic and chaotic and this year we postponed the first day until after Labor Day to let the storms pass by — and it worked.”
“Tropical Storm Irene came through just as we would have started getting classrooms ready,” she said. “So we’re thankful for that.”
Outlining the school’s main focus points for the upcoming year, Chamberlain shared words of inspiration from the National Park Service with the student body.
“This year we’re looking to the past to guide our future,” she said. “The National Park Service mission is to ‘promote and regulate the use of the…national parks…which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.’”
“That was written in 1916 and is still honored today,” said Chamberlain. “This year we will recommit ourselves to becoming a really green school. We are already on our way, but we will fully embrace being green this year.”
GHS plans to look to traditional West Indian provision gardens and more as a guide to reducing its impact on the environment, Chamberlain added.
“We’re looking into how Virgin Islands native cultures practice sustainability and we will be dedicated to the principles of reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose all we come into contact with every day,” said the GHS head of school.
Through the school’s continued collaboration with Iowa State University on its Education And Resiliency Through Horticulture (EARTH) program, GHS officials plan to expand its outdoor classroom and hope to eventually incorporate crops into a culinary arts program, Chamberlain explained.
GHS will also implement composting and will welcome the installation of 27 solar panels on the school’s roof to help off-set electrical costs, Chamberlain added.
“We hope these programs will grow over time and that we will become independent of the electrical grid ultimately,” she said. “This year we start that process by getting some energy from the sun and conserving our electrical usage.”
Teachers and students should only run air conditioners when classrooms are in use and be vigilant about turning off lights and fans, according to the school’s headmaster.
GHS is also trying to eliminate paper usage in the school this year, Chamberlain explained.
“We will try to go paperless in grades four through 12 this year,” said the GHS headmaster. “Each student in those grades will receive a GHS two gig thumb drive. You will all get one and it will be all you really need for your assignments.”
The school will strive this year to lead its students and the entire St. John community on the path toward sustainability, Chamberlain told the students.
“We look forward to exploring ways that GHS will lead the way in the greening of St. John,” she said.
As GHS officials commit to reducing their impact n the environment, Chamberlain pointed out a few campus upgrades which were completed over the summer.
“There were a lot of improvements made to the campus over the summer,” she said. “There is new seating in the atrium, a new parking pad which was just finished this weekend and will give students a new place to congregate. And there was a lot of painting which was completed this summer.”
After explaining her hopes for the new school year, Chamberlain handed the microphone over to GHS teachers and faculty members, each of whom introduced themselves and explained their positions to the students.