Broadway Rescues St. John School of the Arts

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SJSA students pictured with faculty Eddie Bruce, Haile Isreal, The Ahn Trio and Exec. Director, Kim Wild. Photo courtesy of Zarah Rose.

For the last eight years, Broadway Comes to St. John has been SJSA’s major fundraiser. Beginning in 2011 with board member Mr. Ronnie Lee, who had a career on Broadway starting as a teen in the original cast of West Side Story. His idea was to bring a theatrical group to teach 4th graders performance and art through theater. The original show included puppetry with John Tartaglia, a former cast member of Sesame Street, and has been going strong ever since. The annual fundraiser has been a great success that has kept the school providing classes to thousands of students on St. John since 1980. Kim Wild, SJSA Executive Director, describes the impact the experience has had on children in the past, “it really changes the students’ lives by fostering their creativity and connecting them to professional artists. I love to see the kids smiling from ear to ear.”

This year’s fundraiser is aptly named Broadway Rescue! and will be held from 6 to 8 pm on Saturday, April 14th. Tickets are still on sale for a night of fun, first-class performance. Tickets cost $50 and are available online at www.StJohnSchooloftheArts.org or at the school in Cruz Bay. There will be passed appetizers and a cash bar.

Raffles prizes will be available! $5 tickets can be purchased to win a gift certificate for an hour massage or a gift certificate to Donald Schnell Studios. $100 tickets can be purchased for a chance to win an exclusive mini-vacation to New York City including roundtrip airline tickets, tickets to a Broadway show, a three-night hotel stay in Manhattan and dinner for two. Attendance is not required to participate in or win the raffle prizes. Tickets can be purchased online.

Despite hurricanes Irma and Maria, the school has continued operations and is tuition free for all students on St. John until September 2018. There are 22 different courses offered at SJSA serving ages pre-k to adults. Classes include movement, dance, visual arts, and languages, to name a few. These classes have provided the much-needed activity for St. John students, especially the public school students who are on operating on a split session school schedule.

The success of the SJSA fundraiser held in October, School to School Rescue, in New York City at the esteemed performing arts non-profit school, The Professional Children’s School, helped to secure funds to support the school through most of this year. Performances at the fundraiser included The Ahn Trio, and SJSA alumni Sage Buchalter, Victor Provost, Luba Dolgopolsky and her daughter Niama Krigger.

The Ahn Trio performed last Friday, as part of the annual Sis Frank Concert Series. The three artists are a lively classical piano trio who have performed all over the world, including the White House in 2011. The talented sisters have been involved with the school for many years and were here last week holding a free mini-concert and Q&A for all St. John students. The excited children were respectful, listened intently and asked thoughtful questions.. The trio’s visit exemplifies the rich connections that are made by exposure to the arts.

Long-time educator, Eddie Bruce said that this year, they will share video excerpts of the previous eight shows alongside students and faculty live performances showcasing their talents and highlighting new school projects. Bruce, who has been working with the school for 20 years, was supposed to be on sabbatical after losing his home during hurricane Irma, but his love and commitment to the children keep him involved.

Julius E. Sprauve fifth grade student, Nia Christalia Lewis boasted how much she loves the School of the Arts, “It’s fun and I get to be expressive and learn piano, guitar, and dance. It’s very important to keep kids from being bored at home.”  Nia performed last year in Broadway Comes to St. John, and says she loves being involved in the programs. Nia’s experience is just one of the reasons to support the school in reaching its $100,000 goal for next year.