The threat of inclement weather and a last-minute date change did not stop St. John residents from showing their full support at the Saturday evening, January 19, Sprauve Gala, at the Caneel Bay Resort beachfront terrace, where $86,000 was raised for the Julius E. Sprauve School.
The total amount raised at the 11th annual gala is less than the $115,000 brought in at last year’s gala, but JESS principal Mario Francis is grateful for the community’s support, and said the funds will cover the necessary costs to upgrade technology and security at the public Cruz Bay school.
“The $86,000 is $86,000 that we didn’t have before, and the projects that we have on our drawing board will definitely be funded by it,” said Francis. “We had a wonderful time and a wonderful turnout. Beyond whatever monetary contributions we received, we attained our goal because we brought folks together to have a good time.”
Biggest Donation $25,000
Guests at the gala enjoyed live entertainment and a four-course dinner served by celebrity waiters including JESS alumni, Caneel Managing Director Nikolay Hotze and St. John Administrator Leona Smith. Prizes from local businesses were raffled off, and a silent and live auction hosted by emcee Dr. Joseph DeJames, featuring everything from paintings to jewelry, kept bidders on their toes.
The evening’s biggest contributors included Donald Sussman, who donated $25,000; Andy and Joy Stillman, who donated $5,000; Eddie Thomas, who donated $5,000; and V.I. Lottery Commission Deputy Executive Director Lenyse Shomo, who contributed $4,000. Several others donated $1,500, and many community members supported the school through raffle and auction sales.
Although the late change in date for the gala was due to a scheduling conflict at Caneel, Francis is grateful for their support.
“A special thanks to Caneel Bay and their staff for making it seem effortless,” said Francis. “We know it was a taxing task. The staff, faculty and the children are grateful and thank them for it.”
Money Raised for FCCLA
The funds raised at the 11th annual gala will go toward implementing a technology center in each classroom and upgrading the school’s security cameras. More lights will be installed to improve the cameras’ nighttime recording quality, and fencing will be repaired.
There was a fundraising of a different sort at the gala as well. Karibbean Kids dolls made by JESS Family and Consumer Science students which adorned the gala tables were sold to raise funds for the student’s trip to the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America yearly national conference in the states.
FCCLA members will continue to sell the dolls in the Frank Powell Park in their fundraising efforts.
Francis and his staff enjoyed hosting yet another successful gala, he explained.
“We had a good time doing it, and we sincerely thank all our supporters for being there and making it happen again,” said Francis. “Kudos to everyone who worked extremely hard, and thanks to everyone from those who purchased a $10 raffle ticket to our $25,000 donation. We thank everyone wholeheartedly for their support and we look forward to seeing them next year at our 12th annual gala.”