More than 50 members of the Perfect Ashlar Lodge #766 and the Heroines of Jericho, Stafford-Hall Court #205, came to St. John on Saturday evening, April 14, dressed to the nines, and on a very important mission.
The St. John-based community groups adopted the special education program at the Julius E. Sprauve School, a relationship they kicked off by donating a computer and printer to the program.
The relationship between the community groups and JESS began when Flemon Lewis of the Perfect Ashlar Lodge called JESS Principal Mario Francis and asked if there was anything the groups could do to help.
“We know our public schools are lacking things they really need,” said Heroines of Jericho Most Ancient Matron Kathryn Houston.
The groups will offer help to the special ed program at JESS whenever possible, and hope to eventually adopt the entire school, explained Houston.
Can’t Help Greatest Need
“We would like to adopt the entire school, but we don’t want the task to be too large,” she said. “We will do what we can to improve the quality of education here.”
While the Perfect Ashlar Lodge and the Heroines of Jericho’s sponsorship will greatly help the school’s needs, they can’t help with what JESS needs the most — more space.
“We need more space, but that’s something they can’t provide,” said Francis. “Right now, we need a primary classroom for students kindergarten through third grade who need a self-contained class, but we don’t have a teacher, and we don’t have the space. We are trying to figure out how we are going to provide service for the students when school starts in August.”
The community groups chose to sponsor the school because of the importance of education, explained Perfect Ashlar Lodge Worshipful Master Flemon Lewis.
Education a Key To Success
“We believe that education is a key to success and we wanted to focus in this particular avenue,” he said. “We chose the Sprauve School because it’s the major public school on the island, and we wanted to be a part of the school’s activities through providing resources and man power. In speaking with the principal, we realized that the special ed department needed assistance, and as a charitable organization, we wanted to go ahead and use our resources to build this partnership and help the school.”
The community groups can help the school by donating more technology, explained Francis.
“We need some more technology, which will include hardware and software,” he said. “They donated one computer, and we have four classes. We need more computers.”
JESS Also Sponsored By Caneel
Although JESS is already sponsored by Caneel Bay Resort, Francis welcomed the sponsorship of the school’s special ed department by the Perfect Ashlar Lodge.
“I was elated when they came on campus and said they’d like to adopt the school,” said Francis. “We can see more significant gains and impact with the adoption of the special ed department. The more help we can get specifically for them, the better off they can be.”
Francis is both grateful and surprised at the dedication of the Perfect Ashlar Lodge and Heroines of Jericho, he explained.
“I didn’t envision the magnitude of this relationship,” he said. “We always embrace organizations to partner with education. I think this will be an excellent relationship.”
Sign Commemorating Adoption
“Thank you all greatly,” Francis added.
The adoption of the school was commemorated with the unveiling of a sign at the school’s entrance, proclaiming that JESS’ special education department has been adopted by the Perfect Ashlar Lodge #766 and the Heroines of Jericho, Stafford-Hall Court #205.