Gifft Hill School Announces 40th Anniversary Celebrations

Gifft Hill School is pleased to announce the first two events planned in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the founding of the school.

In September of 1978, Pine Peace School officially opened its doors to 4 students, operating out of the Daniel’s building in Pine Peace. Dorthy Muilenburg, JoAnne Pach, Anna Johannson Lagrecranz and Janet Cook-Rutnik were some of the first teachers and assistants, and 2 of their first students were Ruby Rutnik and Jan Johansson.

In the early days, the school served as a preschool but eventually expanded into 3rd grade and then 6th grade after building the first Lower Campus buildings on Gifft Hill in the early 1980’s.

The school was founded on community effort. Many people along the way from all strata of St. John society helped to create this island school, embracing Virgin Islands children to create a community to nourish, support and expand the inclusive and strong culture for which St. John has long been known.

Event details are as follows:

Friday, February 23rd: Sun Dog Café 5:00-8:00 pm (open to the public)
Saturday, March 10th: Beach Villa, Great Cruz Bay (RSVP only)

The first event in the series is to be held on Friday, February 23rd at Sun Dog Café in Mongoose Junction. This fun-raiser will serve as a kick-off for events that will honor and highlight achievements and memories of the start and growth of the island’s first private school.

We look forward to a casual gathering of friends, family, teachers, parents and supporters of the Pine Peace/Gifft Hill School legacy. In addition to a cash bar at Sun Dog Café, complimentary hors-d’oeuvres will be provided by Michael Barry of Sun Dog Café, and music by Ms. Ingrid Smith and GHS students.

A special collection of artwork will be displayed at Bajo el Sol gallery; all proceeds will benefit the school. The evening will also include a raffle and a specialty cocktail table. The public is cordially invited to an evening of celebration and camaraderie. It is fitting that the school’s first fundraiser for the Scholarship Fund, honoring Albert Sewer, an early board member and community icon, was held at Mongoose many years ago.

All donations and proceeds will benefit the endowment of Gifft Hill School to help ensure the next 40 years of GHS on St. John. The school has waived tuition for the 2017-2018 school to help the families on St. John get to the work of rebuilding our island after the storms.

As a strong-standing member of National Association of Independent Schools, Gifft Hill School provides high-quality educational programming to students in preschool through 12th grade on the island of St. John, US Virgin Islands.

For more information please contact Molly Murrill (, Michael Barry, (340-244-9713) or Janet Cook-Rutnik (340-643-4579).