Island Gems presents laptops to two valedictorians

Hillside Christian Primary School Asha Stevens Campus valedictorian Marianelly Zorrilla Cruz (centre) is flanked by her parents and Island Gems Hanisha Alwani and Asha Stevens.


DUTCH QUARTER, Sint Maarten – The valedictorians of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School and Helmich Snijders Hillside Christian School were rewarded with laptops for their academic achievement by Island Gems Charity Foundation. The two valedictorians are both headed to Milton Peters College come the new school year.

Brittany Lake is the valedictorian of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School. She also took home the top honours in mathematics and Dutch language. She received her laptop from Island Gems Varsha Punjabi and Astrid Plantz-Gartner.

Marianelly Zorrilla Cruz is the valedictorian of Hillside Christian Primary School. She received her laptop from Island Gems Hanisha Alwani and Asha Stevens.

Island Gems Secretary Plantz-Gartner said both valedictorians were very deserving of the rewards for their hard work and commitment to their academics as well as their schools and community. “Island Gems is about making our community better and supporting young people builds on that,” she said.

The laptops were donated to Island Gems by the business community for the silent auction of its annual costume fundraising gala. That event was not held last year due to the pandemic lockdown nor was it held this year because of the still ongoing COVID-19 situation. The all-women’s group thought it best not to keep the electronic devices for another year when those could be used for educational purposes. The two schools were happy to share the names of their top pupils for the special gifts.

Island Gems plans to hold its costume gala in 2022, pandemic restrictions permitting. The foundation opted to err on the side of caution and not hold its gala that brings together some 200 people in one location this year.

Island Gems Varsha Punjabi and Astrid Plantz-Gartner flank Brittany Lake, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School valedictorian (second left), and a school representative.

“We want to ensure that everyone would have a safe and fun time together and not have to worry about the virus. Just like our regular attendees, the members of Island Gems also miss putting out this fun-filled event and look forward to doing so in the coming months,” said Island Gems President Alita Singh.

All tickets sold for the 2020 gala will be honoured when the gala is held in 2022. “So, hold on to those tickets! Your support means a lot to Island Gems and the projects we support, thanks to your generosity, on both sides of our island,” said Singh.

Island Gems Charity Foundation supports social, educational, and environmental projects on both sides of the island. This foundation is the only one that offers cross-border support to non-governmental organisations and groups. Instead of cash, Island Gems purchases needed equipment and/or services for the projects selected to receive funding; this helps with accountability and ensures assistance is rendered as quickly and as effectively as possible to the community. The funds used to aid the projects are raised at the annual gala, Island Gems’ only fundraising activity.