Student Update September 21, 2012

Happy Friday once again!! Today is the last day that I get to write for the blog; we switch every two weeks. I really love writing for the blog, but I’m sure the next writer will have some really great experiences and insights about the Island School to share with you all back home.

Yesterday was an absolutely incredible day. It was one of those surreal days that really make you consider how lucky you are. In the morning, I had a three hour long Marine Ecology block. Sounds kind of tedious doesn’t it? Wrong. We didn’t spend a second of it in the classroom. Er… not in the traditional sense of the word “classroom” anyway. We went straight to the boathouse to set up our scuba gear, and then all piled onto the boat to go out to Tunnel Rock, one of the reefs in the area. We were each given a dive slate – like an underwater piece of paper – and descended 35 feet to the sea floor. Each buddy pair chose a spot along the reef to sit and observe for 30 minutes. Our assignment: write an underwater essay answering the prompt “Why (or why not) is there so much life at my area of reef?” Let’s back track for a second here, this is class. It’s schoolwork. How insane is that?? Imagine having an underwater classroom. Imagine having the sea floor as your chair and desk, the reef and the fish as your teachers, and a boat as your school bus.  Unreal.

The second half of the day, we met up with our research groups for a long afternoon of field work. My group sat and discussed a reading we did about the projected impacts of climate change on marine life, and then proceeded to go out to one of the nearby mangrove creeks to fish for schoolmaster snapper to use in our research. Instead of using the netting techniques that we used to catch the bonefish, we fished with hand-lines. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was just another one of those moments where I felt totally overwhelmed with a sense of appreciation for the experiences I’m getting as a part of my education. I spent the afternoon shoulder-deep in the cool waters at the mouth of a mangrove creek fishing for brilliant little yellow and silver fish alongside my fellow researchers. And all of this is for school! We were talking, laughing, and enjoying the natural beauty of Caribbean waters, while collecting specimens for a research project whose findings will wind up being included in real life scientific publications.

I guess it was just one of those days that I think most everyone here at the Island School experiences; one of those days where you find yourself thinking “How many other high-school students get experiences like this?” It was one of those days that truly made me appreciate the Island School and how lucky we all are to be here. So thank you Island School, for showing me things that I will never, ever forget.