Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands: Nail Bay Resort announced that it was giving a $20,000 challenge grant to St. Mary’s School in Virgin Gorda to kickoff a major sponsorship campaign of the 2nd Annual Jazz On The Hill Festival which is scheduled to be held on May 23rd and 24th under the stars on the rolling hills between St. Mary’s School and the Caribbean Sea.


Ajit Mathew George, Managing Director of Nail Bay Resort who is also serving as Chairman of the 2nd Annual Jazz On The Hill Festival, presented this $20,000 check to the children and faculty of St. Mary’s School on Friday, May 4, 2007.  Mr. George stated that he hoped that the $20,000 gift would inspire the business community in the BVI along with those who owned vacation homes and resorts in the BVI and particularly in Virgin Gorda to make generous contributions to this event which benefits St. Mary’s School. He said that the goal of St. Mary’s School was to raise at least another $20,000 in cash and $60,000 in vacation packages from the community at-large in response to this challenge grant from Nail Bay.


St. Mary’s School, which was started over 130 years ago, closed in 1982 and then reopened in 2003.  Prior to reopening in 2003, Nail Bay together with various villa homeowners within Nail Bay, contributed generously in 2002 to the establishment of St. Mary’s Learning Center, the BVI’s first computer lab that was open to the general public without a fee to any user. The opening of St. Mary’s Learning Center led to the reopening of St. Mary’s School in 2003.


Today, St. Mary’s School has 4 teachers plus a music teacher, 2 teacher’s assistants and 43 students. St. Mary’s School serves 20 BVI Islanders with the rest of the children coming from throughout the Caribbean, Nigeria, Guatemala, Portugal, United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. According to Fr. Michael Clarke, the Rector of St. Mary’s Church and the School’s Administrator “this school is in effect a microcosm of Virgin Gorda and represents the interesting variety of people who have come from all parts of the world to make this small community a truly diverse place.”


According to Mr. George, St. Mary’s School’s tuition covers only about 50% of its actual operating costs. The tuition has been intentionally kept low to allow students from all economic backgrounds to attend this school. “While St. Mary’s School has been successful in attracting a diverse student population, we have to find creative ways to raise money from this small community that we all call home, whether it is one’s primary home or secondary home. One of the ways we raise funds for the school is the annual Jazz on the Hill Festival, “ said Mr. George.


Jazz on the Hill is designed to become the single largest fundraiser for St. Mary’s School. Having been virtually sold out in its first year in 2006, the Second Annual Jazz on the Hill will expand into a two-day affair this year on May 23rd and May 24th.  In addition to the $20,000 gift from Nail Bay, Jazz On the Hill has received the generous support of the BVI Tourist Board, bmobile, Road Town Wholesale, Biras Creek Resort and Olde Yard Village. Additional sponsorships are available from between $1,000 and $10,000.

This year’s Jazz On The Hill Festival feature artists are Arturo Tappin, Bobbie Humphrey and Notes to Note along with the support of the St. Mary’s music students and talented local performers. The festival is open to the public on both evenings at 6:30 p.m. with tickets at US$25.00 per person per night or US$45 for the two nights.

In conjunction with Jazz on the Hill, St. Mary’s School is creating a collection of accommodations to be marketed year round as “St Mary’s  Dream Vacations” featuring a  variety of homes and luxury hotel rooms in the BVI. St. Mary’s School has identified a number of charities in the USA and UK who feature silent and live auctions that raise significant amounts of money by auctioning trips to places such as Virgin Gorda. St. Mary’s School plans to offer  “St Mary’s Dream Vacations” to these charities in return for them agreeing to share 50% of the proceeds from their auctions with St. Mary’s School. Anyone who can donate a vacation package to “St Mary’s Dream Vacations” is encouraged to contact Ajit George by e-mail at [email protected]. Mr. George said that donations of these types of acation packages will enable St. Mary’s School to keep its tuition at a easonable level and continue to make the school accessible.