I sat drinking my coffee yesterday morning, watching as the sun rose over the Caribbean Sea; a chill ran down my spine. I couldn’t tell if it was the breeze coming off the water or the excitement of the day ahead of me. Alex Perkins and I were to serve as Caciques for the day, the only time in the semester when faculty have that role. Cacique, the Lucayan word for “chief,” is what we call our daily student leaders. Spring 2010 students would be arriving throughout the day and the campus was buzzing: Island School faculty finishing up last minute logistics, the Flats Ecology team heading out to seine some bonefish, and the facilities crew making sure the campus was ready to welcome 48 students to their new home.
Mickey M. and Alex H. were the first to arrive. They were quick to jump in and volunteer with work on campus while they waited for the rest of the students to get to campus. Mickey helped out Joseph on our farm, turning compost and watering plants. Alex jumped on board the Mary Alice to help Cap, our mechanic, figure out why the boat wouldn’t accelerate.
Bernadette, Merle, Andy, Gabe and I went out to retrieve the rest of our students off the afternoon flights into Rock Sound. Five students arrived on the Twin Air flight. Just a few minutes later, 40 more students arrived on the Bahamas Air flight. While they waited to hand in their passports, travel documents, and cell phones, they looked around nervously at the new faces next to them. In just 100 days, they’ll remember this moment of feeling shy and uncomfortable, and they’ll laugh.
When we all returned to campus, faculty, staff and students gathered around the flagpole for our first dinner circle. As I looked around, I could feel the excitement and nerves in the air. It was clear that Spring 2010 had begun.