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St. Thomas American Federation of Teachers Protest Working Conditions In The Schools

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Members of the St. Thomas-St. John American Federation of Teachers Local Union 1825 held a march Wednesday from Emancipation Gardens to the Earle B. Ottley Legislature Building to protest poor working conditions in the public schools.

St. Thomas American Federation of Teachers Protest Working Conditions In The Schools

“Teachers, students and supporters came out to express their concerns regarding the unsafe and unhealthy conditions of many of the schools,” Senator Alma Francis Heyliger said. “As motorists passed, they honked and shouted to show their support.”

St. Thomas American Federation of Teachers Protest Working Conditions In The Schools

“In talking with some of the individuals in attendance , it was clear that they were very frustrated with the conditions of the schools, the cafeterias, the meals students are receiving, etc,” Senator Heyliger said. “The President of the Local 1825 stated that she visited every school and each one has problems. She added that currently, only three school cafeterias are in full operation.”

St. Thomas American Federation of Teachers Protest Working Conditions In The Schools
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Concerned Scientists Probe Sea Urchin Deaths In Caribbean

SAN JUAN (AP) — Sea urchins are dying across the Caribbean at a pace scientists say could rival a mass die-off that last occurred in 1983, alarming many who warn the trend could further decimate already frail coral reefs in the region.

Dive shops first began reporting the deaths in February, perplexing scientists and worrying government officials who are receiving a growing number of reports about dying sea urchins from islands including Antigua, St. Lucia, Dominica, Jamaica, St. Vincent, Saba and the U.S. Virgin Islands as well as Cozumel in Mexico.

“It’s very concerning, particularly because it’s happening so quickly,” said Patricia Kramer, a marine biologist and program director of the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment, a scientific collaboration to improve reef conditions in the region.

Concerned Scientists Probe Sea Urchin Deaths In Caribbean

At first, the mortality event was linked only to black sea urchins — Diadema antillarum — which are recognizable by their extremely long, skinny spines. But two other species have since been affected, including the rock boring sea urchin and the West Indian sea egg.

The deaths worry Kramer and other scientists including Dana Wusinich-Mendez, Atlantic-Caribbean team lead for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s coral reef conservation program: “Losing our sea urchins would be really devastating.”

The deaths are of concern because sea urchins are herbivores known for being efficient grazers that remove macro algae from coral reefs and clear space for baby sea corals to attach themselves, the two scientists said.

“They’re kind of the unsung heroes of the reefs because they do so many good things,” Kramer said.

While macro algae are an important source of food and shelter for some fish, too many of them can degrade coral reefs that are under stress by warmer-than-average ocean temperatures and a disease known as stony coral tissue loss.

Overfishing across the Caribbean already had led to a greater abundance of macro algae, which was kept in check by sea urchins that are now dying, said Shamal Connell, an officer with St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Fisheries Service who oversees research.

“It’s very urgent that we find a solution,” he said.

The Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment recently helped create a network to investigate the deaths, analyze tissue samples and find solutions. It includes the Florida-based Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute and nearly two dozen groups in the Caribbean and U.S.

Kramer noted that very few black sea urchin populations recovered from the 1983 event that began in the Atlantic Ocean near the Panama Canal and spread northward and then eastward over the next 13 months.

During that time, only the black sea urchin was affected, with 90% or more of the population dying, though at a much slower rate than the current event, she said.

“Just when we’re getting to the point where they’re recovering, they’re dying,” Kramer said.

The U.S. Virgin Island of St. Thomas was the first to report the newest round of deaths in February, although it’s unclear whether that’s where the event started.

“The territory is experiencing an unusual die-off event of long-spined sea urchins,” Friends of the St. Croix East End Marine Park said on February 23. “This is particularly concerning because in the early 1980’s over 90 percent of the natural populations of these urchins were killed by a disease and researchers are worried that this could be a new emergence of disease.”

In mid-March, the Dutch Caribbean island of Saba reported similar deaths, noting that 50 percent of the sea urchin population in its harbor was dead a week later. Officials in Saba said they have around 200 sea urchins in a nursery and are gathering information about the new mortality event, adding that they are treating some with antibiotics that might cure them or prevent them from getting sick.

Meanwhile, Monique Calderon, a fisheries biologist with the government of Saint Lucia, said scientists on the eastern Caribbean island are considering launching their own survey to get more details about where the sea urchins are dying and why.

“When the last die-off occurred in the 1980s, the sampling done wasn’t robust enough to determine what the issue was exactly, what might have caused it,” Calderon said, adding that she hopes to find an explanation with improved technology.

She said dive shops in St. Lucia and other Caribbean islands have reported ocean floors littered with sea urchin spines or sea urchins floating in the water when they are normally anchored to a reef via hydraulic structures known as tube feet. Divers also have found dying sea urchins with droopy spines or with their white skeletons poking through their bodies.

The loss of sea urchins comes amid coral bleaching events resulting from high ocean temperatures and the presence of a disease known as stony coral tissue loss that has affected more than 30 coral species in nearly two dozen countries and territories in the Caribbean, according to the Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment program.

“These urchins are vital to the health of our coral reefs because they eat the algae that try and smother coral reef colonies,” Friends of the St. Croix East End Marine Park said. “DPNR needs the help from the public to report any dying/dead urchins around the territory.”

Coral reefs also provide protection from rising seas and storm surges generated by hurricanes that have grown more powerful with global warming, and they are a key attraction for a region that relies heavily on tourism.

“We worry that a real crisis is developing in the Caribbean,” the Diadema Response Network stated in a recent report on the loss of sea urchins.

By DÁNICA COTO/Associated Press

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Entrepreneurs Learn The Importance of Separating Personal and Business Finances

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — Many small businesses begin as a personal venture or idea that is tied to the personal finances of an entrepreneur. But once that enterprise starts to grow, it is important for business owners to understand the benefits of keeping their personal and commercial finances separate. 

To help female entrepreneurs in the Virgin Islands make that transition, Popular recently hosted the Popular Business Series Women’s Edition, at the Valentino I. McBean Banking Center in St. Thomas. Some 100 business owners took part in the event on site and online via Zoom.

Linroy Freeman, Commercial Relationship Officer of Popular, shared with the participants six reasons why it is important for business owners to make the commitment to maintain personal and business finances separate. 

Entrepreneurs Learn The Importance of Separating Personal and Business Finances

“The first thing is to protect yourself as the sole proprietor of the business, because your personal assets can be exposed if you are not operating under a proper corporate structure. To minimize your risk exposure if you are faced with any legal issues, it is important to acknowledge the importance of setting up a corporation, or an LLC, for example,” Freeman explained.  

Creating a business bank account also establishes a corporate image and credibility to ensure that as you try to solicit new business, your potential customers will want to know that you are organized, and that you have taken the steps to organize your business. 

“First impressions matter, and your need to earn credibility with your clients, suppliers and those who you partner with for ongoing support,” Freeman explained. 

Setting up a proper financial structure also allows for easy tracking of documents and information; it makes the accounting more efficient and allows you to take advantage of certain tax deductions and benefits that are specific for businesses. 

The event also featured Tiffany Gumbs, Assistant Vice President of Operations and Regional Manager of Banco Popular Virgin Islands, who explained “the do’s and don’ts” of business banking. 

“As a bank, Popular must adhere to strict regulations, and the first step for us in that process is knowing our customer, so that we can better serve their needs and comply with the necessary steps in the process of setting up an account or loan application,” she explained. 

“The first thing you should do is obtain and maintain government registration and licenses for your established business, which is the information needed to set up the account. It is important to build a relationship with your banker so you can feel comfortable maintaining an ongoing dialogue, and you should express your needs to allow your banker to identify financial solutions that will fit you best,” Gumbs explained. 

To facilitate all these processes, Monique M. Richards, Vice President and Commercial Relationship and Credit Manager USVI, talked about the business solutions Banco Popular offers its customers to help them make the most of their business finances, including various types of short-term and long-term financing, credit cards and the Mi Banco Commercial smartphone app.

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Why Choose a Digital Marketing Major in 2022?

The role of digital marketing skills cannot be underestimated these days, as even large corporations are turning to social media to deliver their marketing campaigns and seal important business deals. Using it all from YouTube and Instagram to personal blogs and interactive multimedia solutions, digital marketing is a constantly evolving field. It means that an expert in digital marketing or an individual who wants to stand out from the competition must learn about all the latest trends and practical methodologies. This is where majoring in digital marketing becomes the most efficient solution.

Why Choose a Digital Marketing Major in 2022

– Combination of Several Subjects.

The main benefit of choosing digital marketing in 2022 is the ability to apply your gained skills and knowledge to almost every subject. You can research environmental issues and focus on promoting relevant values, or you can create a foundation that addresses the problem of domestic violence in your local area. As you major in this field, it will be necessary to research things and learn as you progress. Therefore, consider a cheap research paper writing service when you are feeling stuck with a bright idea or require additional help with finding sources or getting your content proofread by an expert.

– Freelance Work Options.

Unlike numerous jobs, digital marketing makes it easy to work from home and even do so on your own without joining a company. You can be your own boss. Starting with social media marketing to becoming an influencer for an advertising company, you can make a significant income by traveling the world without leaving your comfort zone. The presence of a degree in digital marketing will help you secure a favorable position as you market your skills and create a special brand for yourself. You can also consider a career as an analyst if you are good with economics and finances. Approaching various companies, you can work as an independent specialist, as such experts are highly sought after these days.

– Expansive Career Choices.

Another great benefit of choosing a digital marketing major in 2022 relates to specific careers that can range from SEO and Data Analysis to the career of a graphic designer or business mediator (negotiations). No matter what digital marketing career you may choose as you learn, always focus on your research references and statistical information because it will help you to feel secure as you research. You may also approach professional essay writer help for those cases when you are in doubt or do not know how to structure your paper. As you seek academic opportunities, take your time to see what career requirements match your best skills and address your weaknesses, too.

– Always Staying in the Trend.

If the prospect of staying in some office from nine to five doesn’t sound attractive, choosing digital marketing, you will always remain in the flow of all the latest events and changes. Things are never static here! It’s one of the most dynamic fields that will remind you of the famous ForEx market and the work of the financial specialists that follow the news and hurry to make relevant changes. Dealing with digital marketing is the same, as you will be able to apply your theoretical knowledge right away and grow as you get more practice.

Focus on Resume Matters

When you are thinking of choosing a digital marketing major as a future career, make sure that you create a resume that describes your skills in addition to your personal statement. While applying to a business school or a classic college of your choice will require an essay, your resume online is essential. The purpose is to create a strong social presence online since the talk goes on digital marketing. As you focus on the content, stay honest about your skills, participate in various workshops, and don’t ignore volunteering. Be active, learn from others, and make your presentation memorable.

BIO

As an educator and business content specialist, Carl is constantly exploring the latest issues related to technology, education, marketing, and culture. His posts offer inspiring solutions that will help you succeed. Follow Carl to discover something new and take your skills to another level.

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UVI To Celebrate Earth Day With Mangrove Cleanup On St. Thomas

CHARLOTTE AMALIE — As part of a larger effort to reduce marine debris in the territory, the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) is organizing the fifth Great Mangrove Cleanup along the mangrove shoreline in Vessup Bay, St. Thomas. The event is scheduled for April 2, 2022, in celebration of Earth Day observed on April 22. 

“Mangrove shorelines are important habitats that support a wide range of plant and animal species. Trash, carried in by wind and waves, can collect among the roots and cause lasting damage to the ecosystem,” said Kristin Wilson Grimes, research assistant professor of Watershed Ecology and project lead. “Cleanups like this give volunteers a chance to get out in nature and make a difference. Students can earn community service hours for their participation.” 

According to Grimes, last year over 1,700 pounds of trash was removed by 54 volunteers. Much of that trash had been there since the 2017 storms. Together, we got a lot of that out, but there’s still a lot left to be removed,” she said.  

To volunteer at the April 2 Great Mangrove Cleanup, register at https://viepscor.org/5th-great-mangrove-cleanup-2022.  

To learn more about Marine Debris cleanup efforts in the Territory, contact Zola Roper at zola.roper@uvi.edu or visit https://viepscor.org/about-marine-debris-in-the-usvi

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Caribbean Students Apply To Tennessee State For Grant Program

NASHVILLE, Tennessee— More than 200 graduating high school students from the Caribbean have applied to Tennessee State University under a tuition assistance grant program, the school said.

The applicants are from the Bahamas, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and other Caribbean nations, the university said in a news release.

High school graduates must have a minimum 3.25 grade point average to qualify for the grant program.

The university’s student body includes people from about 34 countries but few from the Caribbean currently, the school said.

Arlene Nicholas-Phillips, who represents the president’s office for the grant program, said students may also study online if they choose to stay in their country. The program is also open to nontraditional students.

Tennessee State already has dual enrollment partnerships for underserved students in several African countries. Students there take online courses in coding and creating concepts taught by Tennessee State professors.

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Moderate 4.5 Earthquake Recorded Between Antigua and Guadeloupe Today

BASSE-TERRE — A magnitude 4.5 earthquake struck near Guadeloupe this morning.

The University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Center said it occurred about 8:41 a.m. today at a depth of 6.2 miles.

According to the UWI Seismic Research Center, the quake hit:

  • 55 miles northeast of Pointe-à-Pitre in Guadeloupe.
  • 65 miles east-southeast of Saint John’s in Antigua.
  • 108 miles north-northeast of Roseau in Dominica.

If you felt this earthquake, please tell the SRC at (huttps://uwiseismic.com/connect/earthquake-feedback/)

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8th Grader At Sion Farm Parochial School Wins 49th Annual Territorial Spelling Bee

CHRISTIANSTED The Virgin Islands Department of Education congratulates Shadya Coureur, 8th grade, Free Will Baptist Christian School, winner of the 49th Annual Territorial Spelling Bee held on March 24 at the Free Will Baptist Christian School on St. Croix.

Shadya won the 17-round competition by correctly spelling the word “bumptious.”

She will represent the USVI at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC in June,

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USVI Taking Steps Towards Greater Self Determination Through A New Constitution

As project director of a U.S. Department of the Interior grant devoted toward capacity building to increase constitutional development and self-determination, I have the historic responsibility to stimulate greater awareness, civic consciousness, and political will to improve self-government.

The U.S. Virgin Islands is in the throes of political transition. As attentive residents may know already, I have openly supported the pending legislation, Bill No. 34-0153. Why? It is the logical step to take after the Nov. 3, 2020, referendum that overwhelmingly showed the public position of many voters. For the benefit of the people of the Virgin Islands, I am reiterating my position today, and I am providing an excerpt of my written testimony:

Let us agree to a few basic facts. A constitution is a political framework of government. In the U.S. tradition, it is a written framework that the people craft and ratify. At least 35 states were once territories that had organic acts which served as the temporary or transitional constitutions that were replaced by state constitutions.

By every modern standard of political development, the creation of a written constitution that places increasing responsibility, accountability, and power in the hands of the people or as some say — the masses — by definition is inherently progressive, and in a way decolonizing. In the new millennium or today, every United Nations committee that reviews political development and insists on decolonization, measures the path a non-self-governing territory, colony, or dependent area has moved forward in the path of self-government, economic development, human development, cultural advancement, and every attribute of modern life.

The quest for a USVI constitution must be seen as part and parcel of the necessary growth of our people, our society, and our aspirations. We, the people of the Virgin Islands, are not new to this aspiration for political development.

Bill 34-0153 is good. The prefatory clauses were insightful, and the overall spirit of the proposal is promising. Yet as a political scientist, I am trained to separate the “is” from the “ought to be.” A few weaknesses need to be remedied to avoid a failed process. I will list my concerns:

• The language must be improved to explicitly indicate that the Sixth Constitutional Convention is being organized to adopt the Revised Organic Act of 1954 as Amended, and this means the current 1954 Amended Organic Act is the framework of our government. There must be an explicit statement that the Convention is fulfilling the mandate of the November 2020 referendum.

• Remove references of modifying, adapting, or adopting provisions from the 5th Constitution Draft. Leave that alone.

• Do not create a preamble at this time but only include a section that allows for amendments after the new constitution has been ratified.

• Reduce the approval threshold from 13 out of 15 to a simple majority of eight.

• Only allow nine members to be elected but allow for six appointed members who will be selected — two by the governor, two by the Senate, and two by the Territorial Supreme Court. These appointed members will be three per district and they are selected to create a socio-cultural balance of the various constituent groups of the modern USVI. This is intended to ensure an inclusive, diverse, and representative Convention.

• Ensure that this Convention does not engage in mission creep to allow political status and unsettled issues to sabotage the process.

• Include language that if any issue emerges that can be considered new amendments, they will be identified and prepared for the first assignment for a successor Constitution Commission that is to emerge after a new constitution is ratified.

• The bill should include a brief statement that this process does not preclude a future political status referendum or commission.

• The public education campaign that concludes this bill must clearly state that the intent is to publicize the draft constitution that has been approved by Congress so that there is a decisive turnout of voters to complete this ratification process without doubt of public interest and mass legitimacy.

• The 35th Legislature and the governor are expected to participate in the public education and information campaign. This need for elected officials to at minimum give moral support is indispensable for final success.

• The road that we have travelled is like our roads on St. Thomas — they are winding, narrow at times, filled with potholes and detours into dirt roads. I urge you to avoid the potholes and dirt roads and stay on the smooth, straight highways. The adoption of the Revised Organic Act of 1954 (Amended) is the smooth highway.

Fellow Virgin Islanders I hope my input is reviewed and considered. After three decades in the trenches, educating the people on self-determination, political status, good governance, and constitutional development, I know that success is in our hands if we are wise and fair. I ask you the Committee of Government Operations and Consumer Affairs to consider my input to improve this bill to allow for an overwhelming success. To our People, I end with the questions — If not now, when? If not us, who?

Malik Sekou, St. Thomas, is a political science professor at the University of the Virgin Islands and project director for a DOI grant on V.I. constitutional development and determination.

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UVI Opens New Dance Studio On St. Croix, Offers Free Dance Workshops March 24-26

FREDERIKSTED — The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) hosted a grand opening celebration for its long-awaited dance studio today.  

Featuring a sprung dance floor and equipped to enable streaming services for virtual or hybrid dance classes, the new dance studio is another highlight of the University’s dance program, which introduced its Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance degree in 2020. The program emphasizes a strong technical base in ballet, post-modern codified techniques as well as Afro-Diaspora, Caribbean and world dances.  

Welcoming attendees to the event, UVI President David Hall shared his excitement about the new studio.

“The completion of this dance facility will give our students even more opportunities to stretch their physical, intellectual and experiential boundaries to reach their full potential,” he said. “The new studio is another recent example of how the University is investing in our facilities so that current and future students will be able to enjoy modern learning spaces that are both functional and inspiring.” 

UVI Opens New Dance Studio On St. Croix, Offers Free Dance Workshops March 24-26

Building on the excitement of the new studio, the Department of Communication and Performing Arts, which is housed within the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, will present its Visiting Dance Artist Series from March 24-26, featuring visiting international artists Jelon Vieira and Dyane Harvey-Salaam, offering the public access to interpretations of African Diaspora dance. 

“We are delighted to invite UVI students and the dance community in the territory to participate in our dance series which will provide a diverse example of the level of instruction and professional output the program strives to provide,” said Dr. Kimarie Engerman, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. “Our goal is to provide students with exposure to dancers outside of the territory and allow students to expand their techniques and have an opportunity to network with professionals in the field.” 

Mestre Jelon Vieira is the founder of Capoeira Luanda, The Capoeira Foundation, and founder and artistic director of DanceBrazil. He began training in his native Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Vieira is recognized as one of the first people to bring the Brazilian Art of Capoeira to the United States. 

Dyane Harvey-Salaam is a founding member of Forces of Nature Dance Theatre and has had a 45-plus year career as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer. For more than 25 years she was a principal soloist with the Eleo Pomare Dance Company, touring the US, Italy, Australia, and Nigeria as a US representative in FESTAC, the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture. 

“Our department seeks to hone strong dancers who see the power of dance as a tool for beauty, healing and social change. Most importantly, students can fulfill their dreams of continuing their professional dance training and higher education while at an HBCU in the beautiful paradise of St. Croix and inspiring territory of the US Virgin Islands,” said UVI Assistant Professor of Dance Djassi DaCosta Johnson. “We are committed to the well-rounded education necessary to engage and inspire students to become world-class dancers, choreographers, curious intellectuals, informed artists and impactful citizens of the world,” she said. 

As part of its plans to strengthen and grow its dance program, the Department envisions offering courses to non-dance majors as an option for physical education credit as well as an opportunity to experience the beauty and health benefits of dance.