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Shooting at night club leaves one dead and one wounded. Police injured during chase

SINT MAARTEN (SUCKER GARDEN) - Detectives are presently investigating a shooting which took place at “El Capitan” on the Sucker garden road on Monday December 31stat approximately 1.35 a.m. 

A police patrol in the area while driving on the Sucker Garden road noticed that a commotion was going on the parking lot of “El Capitan”. When the patrol drove onto the parking lot in order to investigate the situation they learnt that a shooting had taken place whereby two persons had been shot and that those responsible for this act had fled the scene in a Black SUV and headed into the direction of Bishop Hill. 

The Emergency Dispatch was immediately informed with what was going on and sent several other patrols, detectives, and forensic investigators to assist.  Another police patrol located in the immediate area was informed that the vehicle was heading in their direction and that they should look out for it. 

At the same time another patrol headed into the direction where the suspect vehicle had fled. During the chase the suspect managed to escape causing the patrol vehicle to collide head-on. As a result of this collision one officer suffered a wound to his head and the other complained of pain in her arms.

In the meantime paramedics treated the two victims on the scene of the shooting and transported both to the Sint Maarten Medical Centre for further treatment. The area was immediately cordoned off in order for the forensic investigators to collect evidence and detectives to speak to witnesses on the scene. 

The Emergency Dispatch was later informed by the staff of the Medical Centre that one of the victims had died of the injuries he sustained. The other victim was wounded in his legs and arm and is in stable condition. 

Both police officers were taken to the Sint Maarten Medical Centre for treatment. What was the motive for the shooting and who the suspect is, is being investigated by detectives.

More details of this shooting are not available at this time. When more details become available the media will be informed. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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NA Leader MP Jacobs New Year’s Message

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Leader of the National Alliance (NA) Member of Parliament Silveria Jacobs issued the following New Year’s message on the eve of 2019.  

“Dear people of my beloved St. Martin, I take the time today to greet you for the last time of 2018, while wishing you all the very best for 2019, individually, as a family unit, community and as a collective people of St. Martin with love from my family as well as the National Alliance family.

“2018 proved to be a very trying and difficult year of initial recovery for many of us, and while many of us are well on the way, there are those whom are still struggling to find their way.

“Today as 2019 commences I ask you to forgive those who hurt you, thank those who challenged and tested your resolve to be your best you, those who encouraged and fed into your spirit and finally those who loved you. All these experiences helped to grow you and prepare you for another day, week, year to be your best you.

“New beginnings, whether a personal new year when we celebrate a birthday, or the new calendar year, or each full moon, give us an opportunity to stop, reflect, be grateful, plan or adjust our plan, and resolve to take the necessary steps to get ours, whatever it may be!

“My prayer is that in the pursuit of your greatest self, that your actions can edify and uplift another as well as prosper the development of St. Martin as a net result.

“I pray we collaborate, cooperate and bring our collective strengths together to make our tiny part of the world a better place where all can live, love and prosper!
Let 2019 not leave a single one of us behind!

“While we continue to welcome all to our shores who seek to prosper her, let us not forget who we are and stand in our own truth first, defining who we are and what we stand for. We must not be selfish but think of the greater good of our country or what we want this country to be for years to come. The time is now!

“God bless you all, and God bless St. Martin as we celebrate the start of 2019 and truly put St. Martin first.”

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Air Transat returns with 144 passengers. Resumes seasonal direct service to Canada

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) - Travel from Toronto or Montreal Canada is now easier than ever as Air Transat has returned to St. Maarten following a fifteen-month hiatus caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017.

The return of Air Transat now creates direct flight opportunities for persons wanting to travel to Canada.

The airlines Boeing 737-700 aircraft landed on Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) at 12:05 p.m. on Saturday, December 22nd with 144 passengers who were all "eager to return to the Friendly Island” after not being able to visit since 2017. Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication (TEATT) the Honourable Stuart Johnson greeted the flight and welcomed the Captain and crew back to the island. Johnson said that the return of this airline is crucial because it helps to tell the story of St. Maarten’s recovery post-Irma.

“We have to continue to let the world know that St. Maarten is opened for business and that is what the return of the many airlines we have been working with, signals internationally." He said, "In 2019 we will build on the momentum that has been created this year, with our Tourism partners on the northern side of the island, to ensure the message that “we are open for business” reaches all corners of the globe.

According to Station Manager for Air Transat in St. Maarten Evelyn Munoz the airline offers a “seasonal service” to St. Maarten and is now able to offer commercial flights to persons wishing to travel to Canada. She said, “We are delighted to be back, and we are especially happy with the service from the SXM Airport and the assistance we have received from the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.”

The direct flights to Montreal and Toronto are offered every Saturday departing St. Maarten at 1:15pm to Toronto and 5:00pm to Montreal. Munoz said while in the past Air Transact offered only Chartered services to St. Maarten for hotels on French and Dutch St. Maarten, “I am very pleased that we can now offer full commercial flights to residents and visitors alike who wish to travel to Canada.” Interested persons can book flights via www.Airtransact.com or from any local travel agency. Also on hand for the welcome ceremony were members of the SXM Airport Marketing Team as well as representatives from the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau (STB) and the French Side’s Tourist Office.

The return flight was captained by K.C. Aatecma who incidentally was Station Manager for Air Transat in St. Maarten and also Piloted for Winair several years ago. His First Officer was Francois Lupiden.

Air Transat 1 INS1

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CBCS recognizes Jubilarians

SINT MAARTEN/CURACAO - During a yearly anniversary celebration, the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) recently honored several employees for their longstanding loyalty.

This year, nine staff members celebrated 10 years with the CBCS, six staff members celebrated their 15- year anniversary, five staff members celebrated their 20-year anniversary, nine employees celebrated 25 years in service and five employees celebrated as many as 35 years in service of the CBCS.

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Academy graduates 108 amidst challenging year. Suero, Laungani emerge top students

SINT MAARTEN (CUL DE SAC) - One hundred and eight students of St. Maarten Academy graduated Tuesday evening amid pomp and ceremony at the Belair Community Center, bringing a victorious close to a tumultuous year.

Emerging top of his class and even the island, was Chetan Laungani, who wrote 13 subjects, and attained Grade I passes in 11 subjects at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examinations in May/June 2016. He was among 82 to graduate from the school’s CSEC programme, edging ahead of Naomi Jankee, who copped the salutatorian spot and Habeebullaah Mohammed, who was second runner-up valedictorian.

Of the 26 to graduate from the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE), 22 students earned an associate degree in either Natural Sciences, Entrepreneurship, Tourism, Information and Communication Technology, or Accounts. The best graduating student of the CAPE class was Jayni Suero, who moved the audience to tears with an emotional valedictorian speech about overcoming many obstacles in her life to emerge top of her class.

Suero, a former student of PSVE, recounted writing a letter in 2013 to then principal of Academy, Mr. Shareed Hussain, pleading to be accepted into the academic section as she had not passed the placement examination.

“When I graduated PSVE, I was looking towards doing the GED, but could not because I was only 16 years old and could not legally work just yet. I did the entrance exams for Academy along with my [three] best friends. I failed the exam, but my friends made it. I wanted to give up and do nothing. I ended up writing a poorly written letter to Mr. Hussain…and he gave me the opportunity to prove that I could do the work,” Suero said.

Once given that opportunity, she worked hard for the next three years and after writing the CSEC examinations in 2016, passed 11 subjects with six grade ones, four of which were distinctions; four grade twos; and a C in Dutch. She also copped the top spots in Principles of Accounts and Economics from among 60 plus business candidates, earning her the number two spot among the CSEC graduates as well as the accolade for the ‘Best Business Student’.

Suero did not stop there. She gained acceptance into the school’s CAPE programme and worked even harder during the last two years, despite missing the first term of her second year. Just after the devastating Hurricane Irma, Suero underwent a major surgery and was on the verge of dropping out of school, but credited the head of the school’s Mathematics Department, Mr. Alberick Arrendell, for encouraging her to finish. She recalled Arrendell’s mantra that “wasting time is a terrible thing to do,” and after her surgery in October 2017, convinced her doctor in the Dominican Republic that she was ready to return and complete her studies.

The driven young scholar recounted that upon her return to the island, the school had lost a teacher for three of her courses, but she did research and self-study to make up for the entire term that she had missed.

“We all had a choice to be negative and accept that we could fail, but the fact that we are here showed that we stayed positive. Every bad situation has something positive…that could influence you and give you some hope,” she told her peers.

Suero, who once again copped the ‘Best Business Student’ award, now holds an Associate of Arts in Business Studies degree, specializing in Accounts. She proudly acknowledged the sacrifices made by her immigrant mother, who came to St. Maarten and worked many years on the island, but still does not fully understand English.

“But she provides whatever she can for me. This shows that parents have sacrificed their days so that we can have our today and tomorrow,” Suero told the audience to a resounding applause.

She urged the class of 2018 to use their today wisely and to stay positive while making the choices that will impact their tomorrows.

“Whatever we decide to do today can determine how our tomorrow will be and how the rest of our lives will look,” Suero said.

Graduating in absentia as salutatorian of the CAPE class with an Associate of Arts degree in Tourism was Diamonique Cocks, who was named the ‘Best Humanities Student’. Cocks was recognized for her outstanding performance in Entrepreneurship Unit 1, while Shauntae Marcellin, the second runner-up valedictorian received the award for ‘Outstanding Community Service’. The ‘Best Science Student’ at CAPE was Rachelle Barrett, while the CAPE ‘Leadership’ award went to Genora Jankee, who shared the night with little sister, Naomi Jankee, the salutatorian of the CSEC class.

Of notable mention was the fact the many of the CAPE business graduates defied the odds, as Suero alluded to, when they were left without a teacher in three courses in January. Despite that, Entrepreneurship Unit 1 received 100% pass rate at the May/June examinations. Sixteen students sat this subject under the guidance of Mrs. Cameca Brown-Henry-Ranger who inherited the group three months before their final exam. Management of Business Units 1 and 2 also faced similar challenges; however, under the guidance of the one of the school’s Mathematics teachers, Ms. Denise Riley, the students performed a tremendous task by completing the syllabus and obtaining a 100% pass rate in both units. The same was the story for Accounts, which saw the addition to the teaching staff of Ms. Adecia Rutherford, three months before the final exam, and once, again, the students pulled through and secured a 60% pass rate.

The celebration Tuesday night was also to recognize CSEC candidates whose examination results were touted to be the best in years despite the challenges many of them faced after Hurricane Irma. Many students were left homeless, or roofless after the monster storm, but they all told stories of endurance. Not only were they displaced, having to share one building with PSVE, but the number of class hours were reduced in order to accommodate the shift in schedule from morning classes to evening sessions.

The students also had to manage without a laboratory for science experiments, but they persevered with the encouragement of their teachers, who themselves had their own challenging circumstances.

It was this determination that saw Laungani copping 11 grade ones, seven with straight ‘A’ profiles. He secured these top passes in Additional Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Electronic Document Preparation and Management, English A, Human and Social Biology, Information Technology, Mathematics, Physics, Social Studies, and Spanish. He copped an A in Cambridge Dutch, and a Grade II in CAPE Communication Studies.

He was also one of five graduates who received the Parent Teachers Foundation (PTF) Prize for excellence for attaining the school’s Honour Roll all five years while at Academy. This means that Laungani, along with Naomi Jankee, Jianling Nie, Habeebullaah Mohammed, and Kemilla Carty never received a failing grade from the time they entered the school in 2013 to their fifth form year.

The school’s principal, drs. T. Baly-Vanterpool lauded the Class of 2018 for achieving 100 percent school passes and 98 percent college passes. Students who attain Grades I - IV in at least six subjects are considered to have met the requirements to graduate with a high school diploma, while those scoring Grades I – III in the same number of subjects are deemed to have met the matriculation requirements into most colleges and universities in the Caribbean and further afield.

Baly-Vanterpool singled out the Department of Mathematics for special mention, as the school continues to excel in that subject, above the regional averages. She thanked her Management Team, the board of the foundation for Academic and Vocational Education (FAVE), as well as the teachers for seeing the students through the tough year. For the first time this year, Academy offered the subject Electronic Document Preparation and Management (EDPM) and eight of the 10 candidates received Grade 1, while two students received Grade 2. Physical Education and Sport was also offered for the first time this year, and both candidates (Naomi Jankee and Sidney Williams) attained Grade 1 with straight ‘A’ profiles.

According to Baly-Vanterpool, a number of students performed well in more than 11 subjects at one sitting. She was especially proud of the 13 CSEC candidates who did the CAPE Communication Studies during their fifth form year and achieved 100 percent passes. She singled out Tania Narine and Naomi Jankee, who ranked numbers one and two, respectively, among all the candidates, including those at CAPE, to write the subject at the May/June examinations. Both students received Grade 1.

Baly-Vanterpool told the graduates, “You must carry yourself with confidence, knowing that you have received a solid foundation at the Academy that will allow you to be successful wherever life takes you. Your future is bright. The world is waiting for you, your destiny has been chartered. Your future begins right here, right now.”

Speaking on the theme ‘Your future is determined by what you do today, not tomorrow’, alumnus Ruth Ward delivered an animated and captivating feature address using the plot of the movie, the Black Panther, to encourage the graduates on their next journey.

“Whatever you plan for your life, make sure that it is something that you want to do, and that the small daily decisions you are going to make, align with the plot for your life. The truth is, we cannot accomplish anything of great significance alone. We get to decide who we choose to walk with us for the next moment, the next season, and for the rest of our lifetime. We need mentors too, to direct us to fulfil our vision and an agent to examine the track record of our lives and to challenge our growth in the next chapter,” said Ward.

She encouraged them to choose who to take on their life’s journey, as those people will determine how far they go in life. Ward challenged the Class of 2018 to embrace being the first and show others that they, too, can be great leaders.

“You get to decide what kind of future you will have based on the decisions you make today…Decide wisely and make an amazing future,” she told the graduates.

UNESCO Secretary General, Ms. Marcellia Henry, dubbed the graduates “Overcomers”. She represented the Minister of Education, Mr. Wycliffe Smith. Henry echoed the sentiments of Mr. Roland Duncan, President of the FAVE board that the students showed great resilience in the aftermath of the hurricane to perform so well.

As Laungani stated in his valedictorian speech, “The Class of 2018 is incredibly strong...We slapped Irma right on the face and stayed strong.”

This year, the ‘Most Outstanding Business Student’ award for CSEC went to Kemilla Carty, while Naomi Jankee copped the ‘Most Outstanding Science Student’ and ‘Most Athletic Female Student’ awards. Geraldo Charles was named the ‘Most Outstanding Athletic Male Student’, while the Principal’s Prize for ‘Outstanding Academic Performance’ was shared by Zacquel Phipps, Tania Narine, and Vishwadeo Persaud. Phipps, the only Theatre Arts student for the school this year, also received an award for outstanding contribution to the school. The Leadership prize went to Tania Narine.

Of the 23 subjects St. Maarten Academy offers at the CSEC level, all students must write at least eight compulsory subjects, as well as the Cambridge Dutch, while CAPE students are required to complete at least eight course to attain an associate degree at that level. 

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Jayni Suero – CAPE Valedictorian and President of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams (right).

acad PTF awardeesPTF awardees (from left: Naomi Jankee, Habeebullaah Mohammed, Jianling Nie, Kemilla Carty, and Chetan Laungani)

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Chetan Laungani – CSEC Valedictorian

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Naomi Jankee – CSEC Salutatorian

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NICOLE BAUMMER WINNER OF THE FULL ST. MAARTEN HEINEKEN REGATTA EXPERIENCE!

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - Congratulations, to Nicole Baummer the winner of the Divi Little Bay Beach Resort in cooperation with the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta Contest, the organizers of the regatta announced on Friday.

“Nicole receives a full Caribbean experience on St. Maarten: a week stay at Divi Little Bay Beach Resort and the total St. Maarten Heineken Regatta experience; Two VIP tickets for the legendary Sunday party and two Saturday tickets on the VIP spectator boat to witness the extreme racing.

“The 2019 St. Maarten Heineken Regatta will be the third St. Maarten Heineken Regatta she will be attending,” according to the regatta statement on Friday.

‘’My husband and I are thrilled to spend another exciting Regatta week on our favorite island, St. Maarten. A big “thank you” to Divi Resorts, Heineken and the Sint Maarten Yacht Club for making all of this happen!’’ says winner Nicole Baummer.

Nicole recognizes herself in one of the main goals of the St Maarten Heineken Regatta; promoting the island of St Maarten through its sailing race. ‘’Once you have visited the island during the Regatta, you want to keep coming back for more, and that is exactly what happened to Nicole. She isn’t able to shake the Regatta Fever.” says Event Manager Sacha van der Wouden.

Come down to the Regatta Village February 28 – March 3, to join in some “Serious Fun”!

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Preventative Joint Controls carried out by several Law Enforcement Agencies

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The KPSM’s (Sint Maarten Police Force) Patrol Unit, Detectives and Immigration department joined forces with the Customs department on Thursday 20th December 2018, to conduct an island wide preventative control.

The controls were held in an effort to alleviate potential criminal activities and secure the safety of all citizens and tourist visiting the island during the holiday high season.

The officers focused on checking permits from different business establishments and followed up on information received by the Community Police officers from within their various assigned districts.

The combined controls were conducted in the St. Peters, Dutch Quarter/Middle Region, in and around the Town area and over the hill in the Simpson Bay / Cole Bay area during the evening hours, based on the gathered information.

As a result, one person who was residing on the island illegally, as well as one person with a fire-arm and two persons who were publicly intoxicated were arrested and taken into the Philipsburg police station. 

The fire-arm was confiscated and the person in possession was held for questioning. The two persons who were intoxicated were given a fine. The illegal national was handed over to the immigration department.

Joint preventative controls will continue throughout the Holiday season and thereafter. The Sint Maarten Police force would like to ask all persons of the community to remain vigilant this so we all can enjoy a safe Christmas as we transition into a New Year. (Sint Maarten Police Force)

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Minister Johnson explains financing discussions for the SXM Airport Reconstruction

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) – Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson on Wednesday released his position related to SXM Airport and the discussions that have been taking place which is critical to the Airport's ongoing work to acquire financing for its reconstruction project.

Minister Johnson explains as follows with respect to the financing discussions:

“As the Shareholder Representative for the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) and Minister of Tourism, it is ultimately my responsibility to ensure that the Airport is rebuilt and that the Government of St. Maarten's plans to complete the improvements to the airport such as the FBO Facility, US Pre-Clearance and the Fuel Farm are finalized.

“Having said this, I have taken note of the concerns" expressed in certain quarters about the alleged offer of the Dutch government and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to finance the reconstruction of PJIA in the amount of US $100 million. I have also taken note of the claim that the St. Maarten government is apparently not interested in accepting this offer.

“This is a complete misrepresentation of the facts. In fact, it can even be considered malicious given its timing to coincide with the kick off of the 75th Anniversary Celebrations of the SXM Airport and the migration back into the Terminal Building of arrival and departure operations for the first time since Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

“In the interest of full disclosure of truth and facts, I wish to inform you that discussions have been ongoing about a US$50 million loan from the European Investment Bank, EIB to be matched by a US$50 million grant from the Trust Fund.

“To date, the St. Maarten government, however, is still waiting for the actual "Terms and Conditions" of this proposed financing and the proposals from other potential financiers to be spelt out in writing. Until this is done, I as Shareholder representative and the Council of Ministers as the representatives of the people of St. Maarten cannot naturally take any decision.

“We must also take into account that the St. Maarten government cannot contract any loans, while under financial supervision, without the explicit and written consent of the Dutch.

“The conditions that the Dutch and World Bank have so far mentioned in discussions include:

“A virtual takeover of the Supervisory Board of Directors of PJIAE A takeover of the Management Board of the airport the criteria for requiring local company participation in bids for work at the airport is not possible based on World Bank and EIB standards.

“As a responsible Government, we would like to have these conditions in writing. We welcome all the assistance we can get, but under no guise should help become a hostile takeover of our most valuable strategic asset.

“Let me state categorically as Shareholder, that the Government of St. Maarten itself is not in negotiations with other potential financiers for the reconstruction of the airport. I must also stress that nobody, and I mean nobody, can be more interested, more concerned and more eager to get our award-winning Princess Juliana International Airport back to its glory days, before Hurricanes Irma and Maria, as quickly as possible as I am as Minister of Tourism.

“That is why we celebrated the return into the Terminal Building as a significant step on that journey to full recovery and reconstruction. We appreciate the eagerness to give St. Maarten this money so quickly. However, our people would have enjoyed the same speed and determination in getting roofs over their head’s months ago.

“It has been over a year since our island was devastated by hurricane Irma and if a Loan or Grant from the Trust Fund can be made available within such a short period for the Airport, then there should be no excuse for it not to be made available for building the much-needed homes for our people.

“We look forward to real collaboration with any lending institution who is willing to work in the interest of moving St. Maarten's economy and its people forward.  Thank you, and May God Continue to bless this Great Nation.” 

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Inspectors return from Calibration Training in Saba

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Three Inspectors from the Department of Inspection within the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication (TEATT) returned this week from an “Inspection of Weights and Measurements Training in Saba.

Part of their specialised training included lessons about the calibration of electricity and water meters along with updates on calibration and measurements.

The training was supervised by Dave Levenstone, Head of Economic Affairs on Saba who is himself a certified Inspector. On their return to St. Maarten, the three inspectors met with TEATT Minister the Honourable Stuart Johnson, who congratulated them on successfully completing their training and receiving their certification.

Their first task upon returning was to inspect and certify the scales at the Princess Juliana International Airport on Thursday, in preparation for its scheduled opening on Saturday, December 15th.

While training on Saba the Inspectors from TEATT participated in an island-wide check of weights, scales at supermarkets, the post office, and the airport as well as the fuelling station. This onsite inspection formed part of the practical training which was conducted by Radio Communications Agency Inspector for the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate EZK, Mr Henk Bartels.

Minister Johnson said that the importance of calibration is first to ensure consistency, accuracy and reliability of measurements. He said, “The Ministry of TEATT as the competent and official body to calibrate, measure or test instruments has an enormous responsibility to protect both the consumer and supplier by ensuring that these inspections are carried out routinely and that the persons carrying out the inspections have the available tools and knowledge needed.”

He said the training will continue when necessary for the Inspectors to be always up to date on the use of instruments as it relates to calibration.

The three inspectors who attended the training from St. Maarten are Nelson Rombley, Marcando Winklaar and Genaro Smith. They were taught about the calibration system as well as the laws within the Caribbean Netherlands as it relates to calibration and inspections.

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Academy shares the meaning of Christmas in staging O. Henry's 'The Gift of the Magi'

SINT MAARTEN (CUL DE SAC) - It was a full-fledged Broadway production Thursday evening as more than 100 students of St. Maarten Academy brought home the true meaning of Christmas in song, dance, and acting at the Philipsburg Cultural Centre through O. Henry's romantic comedy, 'The Gift of the Magi".

Set during the early 1900s in New York, the play told the story of a young married couple, Della (played by Krystal Philbert) and Jim (Jahmar Stewart), who found themselves awaiting their first Christmas without money to buy each other fancy gifts. They strategized and, in a strange twist of fate, ended up finding each other the perfect gifts, but at an unexpected cost.

During the performance, the sold-out audience erupted into thunderous applauses several times as the young scholars underscored the main message of the play that Christmas should be about giving the gift of love and not about material things.

The story, narrated in parts by second formers Fadifa Lovell, Evelyne Ilceus, John Monlouis, Diangeli Arrindell, Jesslyn Langlais, Magalie Philander, Shamida George, Kisshan Zaegers, Amard Edward, Dominick Collins, Juliette Duvillage, Lyan Ali, Skyla Davis, and Gabrielle Blake, was directed by the school's Drama teacher, Ms. Joanna Trim.

Trim was commended for working assiduously with 92 second formers and other talented students from the upper levels and the school’s daycare centre for the past two months to pull off the insurmountable feat. She was ably assisted by CAPE Year 2 student, Aimee Monchery, who put her Grade 1 with distinction earned at the 2017 Music CSEC examinations to good use.

Monchery, who plans to follow her musical dreams after earning her Associate degree at Academy, masterfully prepared the entire cast to perform a myriad of musical ensembles. This saw rising songbirds such as Nakida Eliodore and Giselle Whinfield blending their angelic soprano voices to create beautiful harmony with their peers.

Principal, drs. Tallulah Baly-Vanterpool lauded the production, the first of its kind for the school, as a way of promoting and supporting academic excellence in the context of addressing the needs and potential of the whole child.

“Four years ago, we expanded the scope of our offerings in the expressive arts curriculum to include music and dance (as part of the Theatre Arts program), at the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) level, and now drama is the latest addition,” she further explained.

St. Maarten Academy was the first school on the island to introduce Music at the regional CXC examinations and has placed in the top ten at each sitting ever since. Academy copped the number one spot in the region in 2017 and continues to embrace the philosophy that students can realize their artistic dreams while pursuing academic careers.

At the end of the production, Baly-Vanterpool joined the young scholars on stage and challenged them to pursue Theatre Arts at CXC when they get to Form 5 in the next three years. Their involvement in the play, which served as a term grade for Drama, provided a solid foundation in understanding the inner workings of theatre and what it takes to make a production successful.

Trim said she was elated to work with the group of students, as they have helped her to achieve one of her dreams. She was very appreciative to the board of the Foundation for Academic and Vocational Education (FAVE), under which Academy falls, as well as the Management Team, for providing “an enabling environment for theatre arts...and for being resolute in their belief that the artist and his/ her craft has a coveted place and plays an important role in shaping the minds and lives of the global citizens we teach.”

She thanked the school’s counsellors and her other colleagues who assisted her in supervising the students during their rehearsals. The educator underscored that it took many persons and entities to stage the play, as Ms. Arlene Halley of the National Institute of the Arts (NIA) stepped in to choreograph the closing dance by Jim and Della. NIA also assisted with some costumes, thereby allowing patrons to be greeted by smartly dressed “elves”.

The director and staff of the Cultural Centre also jumped onboard with the production by allowing the school to rehearse at the location to acclimatize the novice actors to the stage setting.

She also extends her gratitude and appreciation to the corporate sponsors - the Windward Island Bank, Motorworld, Beautylicious, TeLEM, Super Plaza and True Value who all contributed in various ways to making the show a success.

Trim said she felt that the goal of the production was achieved, since many students sacrificed their time, learned to work together, adjusted attitudes, and put aside their differences to make the play a success. By the end of the production, she said many students were able to relate to the sacrifices made by others in their own lives, including their parents, to ensure that they (the students) did not go without, which was the main message of “The Gift of the Magi”.

“To my cast and crew-- the journey was long and painstaking, marred with bloodshot eyes and sleepless nights, anxious parents and nervous students, but with a determination like Della’s we were resolute in our sacrifices and belief that we will share O. Henry’s story about the importance of the gift of love this Christmas. Congratulations to our students and parents for their unwavering support during our first theatrical performance,” Trim offered.

The set, which depicted the home of Della and Jim, as well as a New York shopping centre with a shoe store, jeweler establishment, and hair store, was designed by Trim and built by Randolph ‘Scotty’ Scott. For the next production, Academy hopes to work collaboratively with the Charlotte Brookson Academy of the Performance Arts to stage Aladdin.

ACAD CAST INS1

ACAD INS 2 dancers

ACAD INS3 scene from the play 2

ACAD INS4 Della and Jim

ACAD INS5 Scene from play

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