Mission & History


Mission and History

Antilles School is committed to the pursuit of educational excellence and a purposeful life. We foster a sense of community, embrace diversity and creativity, seek to develop the whole child, and prepare students for success in college and beyond.

At Antilles we value the school's small size and the commitment of its faculty and staff to the individual student. We are a school where Excellence, Diversity and Community are more than words on a masthead: they are concepts that guide us every day.

At Antilles, we define excellence as the quality of our performance as educators. Our aim is to achieve pedagogical excellence, and to assure that every student who comes to us will find a model of excellence in instruction and in citizenship. Our purpose is to help all Antilles students realize their full potential, develop strong values, and ultimately, discover how they will contribute to the community in their own unique ways.

Antilles is a wonderfully diverse school, but the true measure of diversity is whether the members of the community respect and value each other for the different talents, backgrounds and perspectives that they bring to the school. We work hard to foster this sort of school community.

We are also part of the larger Virgin Islands community, and are inspired by our distinct place in Caribbean culture. The community offers us unique resources and we, in turn, are committed to enriching the lives of all Virgin Islanders by our presence and programs, and through the contributions of our students and graduates to civic life.

Belief Statements

  • Modeling ethical, compassionate actions to lead the way for children as they gain self-confidence, a positive attitude, flexibility, self-regulation, and mutual respect
  • Creating joyful classroom experiences to nourish each child’s sense of wonder, imagination, creativity, intrinsic curiosity, discernment, cultural competency, and motivation to pursue lifelong learning, leadership, and service
  • Pursuing comprehensive, challenging student life programs with a strong commitment to the Advanced Placement Program of the College Entrance Examination Board and providing information, assistance and support to each student that enables her/him to set appropriate educational and career goals
  • Establishing a learning community where dynamic teaching and learning teams exist for academic, physical, and social excellence
  • Providing time and opportunities for experiential education and social interaction to encourage a set of universal values that include: adaptability, cooperation, compromise, courage, goal-setting, friendship, honesty, humor, integrity, open-mindedness, optimism, perseverance, responsibility, tolerance, trustworthiness, and a sense of justice
  • Providing time and opportunities for leadership and service to others that encourages the broadening of one’s perspective, problem solving, and initiative
  • Continuing to support programs that enhance cultural diversity and outreach in our community


Antilles School opened its doors on October 4, 1950 in Villa Santana overlooking Charlotte Amalie harbor.

Good fortune came early to the Antilles School when the small group of founding parents turned to Deborah Finch in 1950 to be the School’s first Head of School and to chart its course forward.  “Miss Finch” is fondly and accurately remembered as a woman fiercely dedicated to both academic excellence and the education of the “whole child.” She was a woman of great energy who expected both discipline and effort from all in the small community that formed the Antilles School at its beginning. Today, Antilles School continues Miss Finch’s vision embracing each child’s academic, creative, and physical development, along with their emotional and social growth.

Antilles’ initial enrollment was 13 students (representing 10 families, a number that grew to 36 students in PreK through ninth grade the next year. Staff included the Ms. Finch, four full-time teachers, three part-timers and a secretary/bookkeeper. Students came primarily from St. Thomas, with a few boarding students from neighboring islands.

By 1955, the school had outgrown its original campus, and Ms. Finch oversaw the move to a four-acre site above the West Indian Company docks in Havensight. Students of that era recall tiny open-air classrooms, assemblies on the terrace with its panoramic harbor view, and driving to a field in Long Bay for sports. Eventually a high school was added, with the first class graduating in 1967.

The school remained at Havensight until 1971, when it moved to its present 27-acre campus in Frenchman’s Bay. The new site provided purpose-built facilities, playing fields, and room for the school to grow.

Under the leadership of Mark Marin, Head of School from 1979 to 2001, the student population grew in size and diversity. The school started a financial aid program, which today provides $1.2 million annually to expand families’ access to an Antilles School education.

A successful capital campaign, begun under Mr. Marin’s leadership, allowed the school to add an athletic complex, a two-story library, and a performance and visual arts venue. The athletic complex (the Mark C. Marin Center or the MCM Center) and the performance space (Prior Jollek Hall) have quickly become resources used by the wider St. Thomas community.

While much has changed over the years, Ms. Finch’s commitment to educating the “whole child” remains the foundation of the Antilles educational experience.

Ms. Finch’s commitment, values, and philosophy are the benchmarks by which Antilles School is measured today.