Steve Murray, Headmaster at University School in Hunting Valley, OH, recently returned from a trip to The Island School where he was visiting his son James (F11) during Parents Weekend. In addressing the University School community in his Thanksgiving Assembly Comments last week, he reflected on his time on Eleuthera, reminding us all that we have much to be thankful for. You can read the entire address here.
by Caciques Anna and Tessa
Today marked the second day of a groundbreaking weekend in our semester. After all of their dedication, all thirty-two swimmers completed the super swim. Sitting in our support boats, we finally realized just how extensive of a feat it was. One by one students hit the turn around boat with a smile on their face, motivated to keep going. Even with current and fatigue in their way, everyone managed to finish in less than four hours. We were so proud to see everyone achieve what seemed impossible.
by Caciques Jack and Lincoln
Today was the last for a lot of things; it was the last exercise before our half-marathon or super swim, the last field day for research and the last day before the half-marathon. In Aquaculture, we decided that our last field day would be best spent diving–a rare thing because, in ACULT, we never go diving. For our dive, we went to the Aquaculture cage and the buddy pairs were Emily and Jamie, William and Elliot, and Brian and I (Jack). As we got into the water we heard Marie shout, “HOLY FISH!”
Confused we looked under the waves to see what deserved this exclamation, what Marie had seen was a school of about 200 yellow tail snappers. The dive itself was uneventful except for two sightings of different grouper that were easily over 300 pounds. On the way back to campus, the weather turned on us and we rode back on eight-foot waves. All in all it was a great day.
by Caciques Connor and Charlie
Thanksgiving at Island School is different than a Thanksgiving nearly anywhere else. While we know that our friends and family back home are playing backyard football, sipping apple cider, eating turkey, or watching the Lions’ game, we have spent the day swimming and running in preparation for our super-swim and half-marathon this weekend, making positive changes to the Island School community with work done in our Human Ecology final projects, and seeing manta rays while SCUBA-diving to a wreck of an airplane near the Exuma Sound Wall. However, the Thanksgiving spirit was honored during dinnertime when our community came together to enjoy a delicious meal of pork, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, pie, and other traditional dishes. It was very exciting to have Teschna (the Marine Ecology Fellow from New Zealand) join us in her first Thanksgiving ever as well. When we were writing our pass-offs to the new caciques, we wanted to do something special for thanksgiving. Volunteers from girls dorm gratefully decorated the dining hall, and we came up with the idea for everyone to say something they were thankful for during dinner circle. So when dinner circle came, we stood around the flagpole and said what we were thankful for; a common theme among the answers made it clear that we are very thankful to be here.
This weekend, the Fall 2011 students and faculty participated in either the Half Marathon on Saturday or the Super Swim today. Congratulations to all for their successful finishes!
By Caciques Ian and Harrison (an authentically articulated synopses of the day)
At the first cock’s crow, we had the splendor of an eight AM sleep in; the first light was exceptionally phlegmatic. Subsequent to a palatable cuisine of granola, we basked in the eminence of Human Ecology Class. Some of us notable scholars conducted surveys among residents of the lovely settlement of Rock Sound, while other dignitaries inhaled compressed oxygen from a self-contained breathing apparatus up to 60 feet beneath the surface of an appealing Caribbean sea. The dawn was prodigious.
Henceforth we partook in a ravishing fodder of Tomato soup, grilled cheese, and macaroni. The diving squad jackanapes were significantly tardy. After all pupils received a sufficient amount of nutriment, half the student body rushed off to midday lessons, while a fraction received the privilege of two hour exploration. Ian for instance, studied the complexities of math and literature, while Harrison had the privilege to accompany the staggeringly statuesque Caleb upon a pursuit of Caribbean Spiny Lobster. The two wrangled up an adequate supper and returned back before Harrison’s presence was requested in class. Whereat the Marine Ecology group went on a breathtaking excursion examining the ruins of a downed airplane, near 80 feet below sea level.
All and all, the day of the 23rd was nonpareil. Come nightfall, all a hungry child was looking forward to the day of thanks and feasting next morrow.
by Caciques James and John
We met at circle at 6:30, not sure what we were about to get ourselves into. The schedule said that rather than morning exercise, we would be a part of a pig slaughter. Nobody knew what to expect as we made our way towards the farm. When we got there all we saw was a massive barrel of water sitting over a fire pit. It was a quiet, eerie feeling, as people whispered to each other about what was to come. Joseph led the pig into a separate kennel and shot it in the head. Everybody was given an opportunity to participate in cleaning and preparing the pig for our Thanksgiving feast. John and I took part in skinning the pig to get it ready for butchering. It was a powerful experience for everybody. This event really put into perspective where our food comes from and helped us understand the effort that goes into getting meat on our plates. I have a greater respect for my food now that I have witnessed this moving event.
by Caciques Griffin and Elliot
After eight weeks of Community Outreach, we’ve already found ourselves at the end of our experience with the Deep Creek Middle Schoolers. The 7th Grade had prepared presentations for the community on mangroves. We gathered at “Seaside”–the Deep Creek faculty apartments– and had a wonderful time with our buddies. We had cookies and milk boxes, so everybody was happy.
We all piled back into the vans to head back to the DCMS campus for a basketball jamboree. Arriving at campus, we heard the groovy beats of the local Bahamian DJ. We walked around to the back of the library, to the basketball courts, and saw tables and tables of incredible food: pizza, conch fritters, brownies, cakes, mac ‘n’ cheese. With full bellies, we made our ways to the court to find our teams for the basketball tournament. Teams were separated by gender and comprised of Island School students, DCMS buddies, and faculty.
Boys played full court 5 on 5 and girls played half court 3 on 3. Everyone played fabulous basketball, there was a lot of fun and enthusiasm the entire time! We played all afternoon until the sun was setting. It was a great last day with our buddies and we will all miss them so much after bonding and making new friendships over the course of 8 weeks. It was hard to say goodbye to them and it made all of us realize how our time is winding down with each other and that it is going to be so hard to say goodbye in two and a half weeks from now.
by Caciques Ihna and Brendan
Parents are gone! It was a rollercoaster of both events and emotions while there were here. I think the community made quite the impression on them between everyone’s research presentations, the jump off high rock, and personally, my extensive knowledge of Eleuthera that I shared during one-day Down Island with my parents. Today, all of the students and some faculty went on a community beach day. By boat, we travelled to Schooner Cays. The collection of small islands that we could usually see out on the horizon actually had trees on them, which took me by surprise. After getting off the boat, we waded through the crystal clear waist deep water before the beach. It was a fun day filled with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, snorkeling, beach combing, reading, and reconnecting with everyone after Parents’ Weekend. We all were a little sunburned by the end!
The Geronimo, an experiential education vessel operated by St. George’s School from Newport, Rhode Island, under the direction of Captain Stephen Connett, conducted shark research cruises from the early 1970′s through to the mid 1990′s throughout the western Atlantic. From autumn 1979 through to spring 1981, regular seasonal surveys were conducted in Bahamian waters focusing on a shallow bank known as “the bridge” that connects the southern tip of Eleuthera to the northern tip of Cat Island. The data resulting from these surveys, representing a snapshot of Bahamian shark abundance from over 30 years ago, have never been rigorously analyzed or published. Edd Brooks, manager of the Shark Research and Conservation Program at CEI, is collaborating with Stephen Connett and Jeff Stein (University of Illinois) to recreate these surveys over the next two years, with the goal of identifying potential shifts in the diversity, abundance and demographic population structure of sharks in the North East Exuma Sound over the last 30 years. The first field season took place earlier this month and Edd, Jeff, and Stephen successfully completed surveys of the bridge with the assistance of two Bahamas Environmental Stewards Scholars, Ann Marie Carroll and Brandon Jennings, Stephanie Liss (former CEI shark program intern and graduate student at University of Illinois) and Christopher Koch. Christopher, an experienced captain and diver, has supported the Shark Research and Conservation Program since his daughters, Hanna and Melanie, studied at The Island School in Fall 2006 and Fall 2008, and offered to return to Eleuthera once again to help on this exciting expedition. Just goes to show that IS alumni aren’t the only ones that can come back to The Island School and CEI–parents can, too!