St. John heads to Hamilton to raise money for School of the Arts

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A group from St. John School of the Arts are heading to Hamilton. Over 200 people are going to Puerto Rico as part of a fundraiser for the school. USVI Correspondent Kellie Meyer sat down with the organizers to find out more.

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When long-time St. John School of the Arts volunteer Ronnie Lee got word that Hamilton was coming to Puerto Rico, he knew he had to get the Virgin Islands involved.

“That very day I called the producer of Hamilton, Jeffery Seller and I said I would like to get 200 seats for St. John School of the Arts as a fundraiser. I guess the only way to say it to you and to those people in the Virgin Islands is the rest is history for us,” Lee said.

As a musical-legend himself, staring in the original West Side Story, Lee used his Broadway connections to get tickets for his SJSA Family. That money then would go back into the school to help it rebuild from 2017’s terrible storms. Executive Director Kim Wild said the investment will go a long way.

“There’s so many things in the infrastructure of the whole community that needs to be restored and for sure the arts programs need to be need to stay where they are we need to keep our doors open the arts are that important for the kids,” Wild added.

The lead in the play Alexander Hamilton left St. Croix in the Virgin Islands because of a hurricane. Lin Manual Miranda, creator of Hamilton, said in an interview on CBS that bringing it back to the Caribbean following the storms is bringing the play home. Miranda brought it to Puerto Rico as a way to raise money for the arts after they were hit with Hurricane Maria in 2017. Lee wanted to make sure that USVI arts weren’t forgotten in all the hype.

“What I think we need to stress is that not only have our schools on St. John been decimated, the public school is operating out of temporary trailer classrooms which cover the ball field playground of school,” Lee added.

Lee said thanks to fundraising efforts like this one, the St. John School for the Arts will supply these schools with free arts education classes.

Since 1970 they have been bringing arts to the islands.

Its’ programs service over 500 students yearly with over half of the students being native Virgin Islanders.

Since the two category five hurricanes in 2017- the students have been on the challenging journey of recovery.

Wild said the music and the arts have been helping them on that path.

“It’s a healing process. It truly is amazing out of all of this destruction some of the most highlights of my life have come after the storms.”

Now with the help of music the school will be further on the path of recovery than ever before.

Lee tells us that this fundraiser is more than double the amount they have ever fundraised in the history of St. John School for the Arts.