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Pan In New York 2004

An educational, historical, cultural and artistic masterpiece that showcases one of the most vibrant live music performance movements in the United States today...
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 Rising Stars
Steel Orchestra
-
IN THE SPOTLIGHT

SPOTLIGHT - When Steel Talks - Special

RISING STARS YOUTH STEEL ORCHESTRA
SUPERIOR COURT OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS OF THE UNITED STATES


The Rising Stars: Pathways to Success
 


Carnival on St. Thomas would not be complete without performances by the Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra. Their lively rhythms and upbeat style have the whole world dancing to the beat of steel pan music. Serving as Goodwill Ambassadors of the Virgin Islands, the band has performed in places as far away as Taiwan and Japan,

Rising Stars members performing on their patented double-decked Mobile Stage Rack (Trolley) during the Carnival Parade on St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

as well as at the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California; the Lincoln Center, Javits Center, and Crown Plaza Hotel in New York City; the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.; and, the skyline Stage in Chicago, Illinois.

The Rising Stars have also performed all over the Caribbean at venues such as the Queen’s park Savannah in Trinidad; on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands; in Christiansted and Frederiksted on St. Croix; and, for President Bill Clinton during his visit to St. Thomas in January 1998. They have

 

Rising Stars members perform on their double-decked Trolley during the Carnival Parade on St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

even made appearances in movies Weekend at Bernie’s II; on such TV programs as Good Morning America and had a brief appearance on the Today Show in November 2001.

The Rising Stars Program has received numerous accolades for its success - including being rated in the top 10% nationally in the “Innovations in State and Local Government” competition sponsored by Harvard University and the Ford Foundation; being named the Grand Prize winner in the national Arts & Entertainment Television competition, “Breaking Barriers”; and being listed in the U.S. Senate’s “Catalog of Hope” as one of the best prevention programs operating in the United States and its Territories.

The amazing success of the group is due in part to one man’s vision and is a tribute to the determination and drive of St. Thomas’ young people. The Rising Stars program was started in 1981 by Judge Emeritus, the Honorable

Rising Stars members performing during their Annual Christmas Concert at Reichhold Center for the Performing Arts in St. Thomas,US Virgin Islands

Verne A. Hodge, who had become concerned with the increasing number of criminal offenses committed by young drop outs. He developed the Rising Stars as a crime-prevention program whose aim is to keep kids from dropping out of school and to guide them toward obtaining a high school diploma and plan for the future. Its success grew quickly and it eventually developed into a year-round program, receiving worldwide attention and praise.


The requirements for the participants, who range in age from 10 to 18, are very strict. Members must be students who, with the consent of their parents or guardians, agree to comply with the Rising Stars’ Oath: “I promise to obey the rules of the Rising Stars; to stay in school and fully educate myself; and to conduct myself in a decent manner at all times.”

They follow a stringent code of behavior, including completing homework before practice, maintaining passing grades, abstaining from drugs, alcohol or tobacco, obeying household rules of parents and guardians, and following instructions of the band’s leaders and staff members. Anyone who violates these rules is subject to probation, suspension or expulsion from the group, although every effort is made to avoid these measures - including providing tutorial services to students who need help. The result has been a graduation rate of over 90% of the participants in this program, with a large number going on to continue their education with assistance from the organization’s scholarship program.

“Children are the greatest asset in any community,” says Glendia B. Caines, who has been working with the Rising Stars since 1995 in the capacity of the Associate Director of the Pretrial Intervention Program. “This Program gives us the opportunity to be a part of the ‘village’ that raises our children as we

Rising Stars members performing during their Annual Christmas Concert at Reichhold Center for the Performing Arts in St. Thomas,US Virgin Islands

help to educate our members socially, academically and culturally. It is a challenge that we have accepted and eagerly look forward to as we continue to see the fruits of our labor manifest itself in knowledgeable and competent individuals locally, nationally and internationally.”

“It is important to keep the doors of opportunity open to our young people,” says former Associate Director Glenn Davis, who worked closely with the Rising Stars from 1991 to 1994. “If you cannot do that, then you cannot expect a bright future for them.”

The Rising Stars is blessed with ten very talented Instructors and Arrangers. The instructional staff possesses more than one hundred years of experience playing the steelpan. Additionally, they also have an extensive amount of years teaching pan to more than one thousand students who have been members of the Rising Stars and many more in various schools, churches and other community organizations.

The Arrangers and Instructors of the Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra include Wayne “Pops” Donadelle (Double Second), Ralph “Rabbi” Felix (Bass and Tenor Bass), Elvino “Sifu” George (Arranger), James Gittens (Tenor), Jasmine Haynes (Double Tenor), William Haynes (Arranger), Eltino S. “Tino” Pickering (Guitar), Laura Rouse (Double Tenor) Sean Steele (Cello) and Chief Instructor, John Hodge (Quads).

The instructors are assisted by the administrative staff of the Territorial Court’s Pretrial Intervention Program that includes: Associate Director Glendia B. Caines, Rising Stars Coordinator Adelia “Queenie” Henneman and Project Coordinator Lauris Questel.

The Rising Stars may be contacted at the following addresses:

Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra
c/o Superior Court of the Virgin Islands
P.O. Box 70
St. Thomas, VI 00804
Ph: 340-774-6680 or 340-774-7067
Email: gbcaines@tcourt.gov.vi  or risingstars@tcourt.gov.vi

Thanks to the efforts of the Rising Stars and the daily practice of their motto, “Nothing is so complicated that it cannot be simplified by hard work”, the future for young St. Thomians is positively stellar!

Portions of this information are excerpted, with permission, from: Vacations St. Thomas & St. John

 

   
 


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