Eleuthera Explorers camp is in full swing with 17 youthful Explorers from various islands in the Bahamas and states in the USA. We have been keeping busy with morning exercise beginning at 7am each day. Some of their favorite activities so far have included bicycling to 4th hole beach, snorkeling at sunset beach, learning to kayak, spotting nurse sharks and handling a 6 foot boa constrictor! Yesterday we went on an exciting adventure to our artificial reef balls. There, Explorers observed a school of grey angelfish, blue tang and a great barracuda. We also went to Page Creek to observe nurse sharks with our nurse shark research team from the Cape Eleuthera Institute. One of our Explorers, Rose Marie, shared her love of snorkeling and bicycling with us, “The first time I came to the Island School I was unsure what we were going to do. At first I was a little bit scared to snorkel, but then Tiffany showed me how to snorkel better and I became less scared. Then I heard that we would be riding bikes and I was really up for it.” Other Explorers like Morgan, James and Alexander share a love of morning exercise, with games like Beach flags and run swims! There have been so many new people to meet, including researchers from around the world studying all sorts of wonderful things.
The following cacique update was written by Hana and Taylor describing their day as caciques, Tuesday, June 28:
“I eagerly looked down the path of what would be our four-mile run to High Rock and back. It was intimidating yet exciting as we stretched our limbs, getting ready for our challenging adventure. Following Jenny and Kit, we started to run at a quick pace, which little did we know would make us sweat like we never had before. As we slowly started to get closer to High Rock our fatigue began to set in. Finally we reached High Rock and a few people who didn’t mind chafing decided to jump into the water. We continued on our journey to the flagpole at The Island School. Overall, the run was challenging, but everyone felt great and accomplished afterwards.” -Taylor
“I hesitantly stared down at the water about to submerge myself into it. I grasped my mask and regulator in one hand over my face and my SPG in the other and fell backward into the waves. Orienting myself I quickly listened to David give clear instructions and then began to descend into the clear blue. As I looked above I realized I was doing the supposed impossible: breathing underwater. I was immersed in water and exposed to an environment I had never seen. Like many of my fellow Island School peers, it was my first day SCUBA diving.” –Hana
To become SCUBA certified we had to perform a series of skills. The divers who were certified used this as a refresher to remember the skills they had forgotten. The skills were things such as clearing a mask with water, breathing with your buddy’s alternative air source, and swimming without a mask. Many people were able to complete these tasks, and with a few more open water dives everyone will be SCUBA certified!
Feeling hungry but accomplished, we finished the day with a nice spaghetti meal. Finally we went to bed, looking forward to our sleep-in morning the next day, and preparing ourselves for more SCUBA adventures.
The following cacique update was written by Hope and Olivia describing their day as cacique, Monday, June 27:
My nervous toes tightly clutched the porous honeycomb limestone. The cliff hovered about 20 feet over the light reflecting crystal clear Bahamian water. I could see an area of white sand and several dark spots consisting of seaweed and coral. If I waited any longer to jump I’d fill my head with fears. Trusting the people around me I shut my eyes and leaped forward. Breaking the water feet first gave me a tingling sense of relief at the end of a wonderful high. This simple act of letting go of my fears and trusting others helped to teach me an important lesson. I can hear the fears and worries if I let them happen, but I have to just jump into things trustingly. I know I am in for an exciting adventure. The experiences we are all going to have at The Island School will definitely push our comforts. Each day, however, a new sense of confidence is being built within us. As we continue to try new things, we will strengthen our knowledge of Cape Eleuthera and how we have an impact in our communities. I look forward to which jump we’ll be taking tomorrow.
After our run to high rock and thrilling jump into the water, we headed back to the presentation room to start sharing our Who Am I? projects. From practicing the sport of Parkour to collecting baseball caps for cancer, we learned that each one of us has unique qualities. We spent the next couple of hours exploring different research topics including Flats Ecology, Aquaculture, Shark Conservation, Lionfish Exploration, and Conch Conservation. Everyone chose their favorite topic to research and was very excited to get into the field and start exploring.
The Lopez seminars followed this intro to research and focused on using collaborative thinking to understand and connect the text to our world. We discovered what a querencia meant, our special place in nature to relax out mind and feel connected to the earth. We all started thinking about our own querencia on the island to call our own.
Arguably, the most relaxing time of the day was our free time from 4 to 6. We explored a designated area in which we chose to sign out too. The more ambitious chose to run, bike or swim. Others escaped to the Marina Store, which was disappointingly closed.
We ended the day with dinner circle where we took a moment of silence to reflect on the quote by Albert Einstein “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” The quote the defined our day and gave us all insight for the days to come.
Below are some highlights from our weekend of expeditions written by Henry, Molly, Corey and Julian, our first four caciques:
The weekend of adventures began bright and early at 6:30 am, June 25th. Bleary eyed and tired, we wandered down the stairs to the boathouse, drybags bursting with all manner of camping tools, tents, dromedaries, and a number of unnecessary objects we shouldn’t have brought – this was after all, the second full day of Island School life, and we were already on our way to the first ever kayak trip. Almost every single mosquito on the island collectively decided to launch a full blown assault on the group of hapless Island School students, so we quickly packed up the kayaks and left. The two student leaders of the day (Henry and Corey) helped to keep the group in formation as the kayakers traveled around Powell Point and towards the planned final destination of Plum Creek, a few miles away. The group prepared well for their excursion, but as faculty member John Schatz puts it: “You are always at the mercy of the elements.” Strong winds a few miles past 4th hole beach created heavy chop and swells – difficult weather to kayak in even for expert kayakers, so the group wisely decided to turn back, and camp at 4th hole beach instead of trying to battle the weather and reach Plum Creek. The first Island School campout began with the kayaks running up onto shore, and the students promptly running into the water and snorkeling. The group then made its first ever trip to High Rock. Henry and Corey diligently passed the duty of Cacique to Molly and Julian. After a cookout and some delicious roasted marshmallows, the whole group enjoyed a sleep-in to 7 am.
1….2…3… SERT! 1…2…3…SERT! After an early morning exercise (a half mile swim) the group packed up their bags, and began on the first ever South Eleuthera Road Trip! (SERT) The trip began with an investigation to an abandoned airstrip, the Rock Sound caves, and Ocean Hole; where the group reenacted some Colonial Bahamian history. After a quick lunch we visited Coco Plums, where the famous Bahamian chef prepared us his legendary Conch Salad, and then headed out for another local Bahamian treat at Victoria’s and Henry’s refreshment shop complete with tamarind and passion fruit ice cups, and Goombay Punch the Bahamas only “official” carbonated beverage. We headed back to Island School campus where the other half of the group was returning their kayaks underneath the boathouse, and we all worked on cleaning out the sleeping tents, and drybags that we used the prior night. When everything was put away and the tents were hung up to dry, we had about an hour of exploration time that mostly everyone spent running off the dock and treading water talking about our first ever real Island School experience.
Island School Summer Term 2011 is off to a great start. All 24 students have arrived safely, and we are already exploring the question of what it means to live well in a place.
Below are a few photos of our first morning exercise snorkeling the wreck just off our campus:
As we explored,we saw a nurse shark, a spotted eagle ray, and a variety of reef fish. We discussed the role of oatmeal algae and the human ecology of conch.
Every time I start a new term with students, I am drawn back to one of my favorite quotations by David Orr in his essay “A Sense of Wonder”:
“D.H. Lawrence once said that “Water is H2O, hydrogen two parts, oxygen one, but there is also a third thing that makes it water and nobody knows what it is.” It is magic, the kind that can only be found in nature, life, and human possibilities once we are open to them. The kind of education I have in mind takes young people out of the classroom to encounter the mystery of the third thing. In that encounter they discover what Rachel Carson once called the “sense of wonder.” And that is the start of a real education.”
The education of Summer Term 2011 is well under way.
First thing tomorrow morning half of the students will head off kayaking while the other half does our first ever one day South Eleuthera Road Trip (SERT!). We will all camp together on the beach and then swap. There is no better way for us to orient students to place than to get out and explore. Look forward to more updates early next week once we are back on campus and have some time to share our experiences.
At DCMS’s graduation, valedictorian Aleice Goodman spoke to her classmates:
“Three years ago, I embarked on a journey that would prove to be one of the most exhilarating experiences of my brief lifetime. After completing my education at Tarpum Bay Primary School, I was afforded the opportunity to attend Deep Creek Middle school where I would attain my junior school education. From Seventh to Ninth grade Deep Creek Middle School has challenged me to think at a more sophisticated level, to challenge myself beyond the regular standards that I had originally set for myself, and to be dedicated to everything that I put my mind to both in and outside of the classroom. Whether it was solving difficult south Eleuthera community problems in Community Outreach class, or finding a more eco-friendly fertilizer that local farmers can use in science class. Now that this chapter of my life has come to a close, I am very thankful that I have acquired these traits which I can now carry on into my high school education. Continue reading
A final Cacique Update from the perspectives of the Semester Caciques of Spring 2011:
by Georgiana Anderson and Aldis Gamble
I remember the Monday before we left The Island School, shuffling through the chaotic DOL schedule. I remember listening to my classmates and being fascinated by their stories and excited about their experiences. I remember Lindsey Spring’s story of conquering her fear of the dark or James Curland’s realization that sustainability makes the most sense to him in terms of economics. I remember jumping off the lip of triangle cut after JP Ferro’s DOL and learning that education doesn’t mean grades on a transcript for Izza Drury. And I remember crying as I watched Jessica Resnick and Emma Beecher perform their Demonstrations of Learning, but I couldn’t figure out why. I didn’t feel sad, as I knew I was going to stay in close contact with both Emma and Jessica and would see all my other classmates soon after our time on Eleuthera. And I knew I wasn’t crying tears of joy, so what was it? Continue reading
The Flats Ecology team is wrapping up an amazing spring semester and preparing for an exciting summer session. This semester the flats team worked with The Island School students to study bonefish distribution and growth rates. The students would go out in the field, fly fish and seine, then tag and measure bonefish. Hoping to find interesting correlations between movement patterns and growth rate, the students had a unique experience working out in the field and grasping a better understanding of the scientific process. Continue reading
After a project at the beginning of the S.11 semester where a single piece of advice was collected from every member of The Island School, Facilities, Cape Eleuthera Institute and Deep Creek Middle School for the incoming semester of students, students at the end of the semester had an idea. After having spent one hundred days looking to our collective wisdom for advice, they decided to get together and leave their own words for the upcoming F.11 group of Island Schoolers. So, in the eternally cyclical spirit of The Island School experience, things have come full circle. I am delighted to bring to you the very thoughtful words of the S.11 semester:
“I’ll miss you in this place.” –Gigi “Life is a game of inches.” –Lizzie “Live each day as it comes. Enjoy every bit of the experience and leave with no regrets.” –True “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” (Dr Seuss) –Kelly D. “Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Sam Essig “There are so many things I wanted still to do so many things to say to you remember that I did not fear it was just leaving you that was so hard to face we cannot see beyond but this I know I love you so, it was heaven here with you” (Isla Paschal Richardson.) – Eliza H. “Laugh always, even if it is buggy.” –Katie Continue reading
On June 10th, CEI researchers Annabelle Oronti and Edd Brooks tied the knot in England with potcakes Friendly and Biscuit as their witnesses. The ceremony took place at a church in Edd’s home village where his parents also got married. Several former IS and CEI faculty and staff were in attendance. Congratulations to Edd and Annabelle!
Edd and Annabelle celebrate with former staff members Ben and Laura Dougherty and Karen McNamee