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Student Update November 5, 2012

Dinner circle on Saturday night was full of energy as all of our DCMS buddies were with us for the haunted house! After eating dinner with our buddies, the pres. room was full of flour, and fake blood made out of cornstarch, food coloring and water, preparing for the haunted house.  From zombies to rag dolls, we were excited to give our buddies a good scare.  [slideshow] I walked through the haunted house with a group of DCMS students, lead by Lexi, Lauren C. and Connor. Shortly after arriving at the farm, Connor was dragged into a pile of leaves, and instead of proceeding to walk and be chased by zombies as intended, the DCMS kids stayed back to try to save Connor, and some of them were so scared they started to cry. The rest of the walk through the farm wasn’t too scary until we arrived to the end of the farm where we were greeted with the image of Jake eating Chris’s guts, what were really bananas.  We continued to walk to the boathouse.  Continue reading

Student Update November 3, 2012

Hello, I’m Cate, and I’ll be writing the blog for the next couple weeks.  I’m from Boston and go to Nobles, just outside the city.  Recently, I and many other students have been missing fall, but it was great to get a feel for that these past few days.  The temperatures dropped after the hurricane, and a lot of leaves were lost, so we are getting our “fall” down here at The Island School.  To add to the feeling, we celebrated Halloween on Thursday night with a costume contest.  Some of my favorites were teacher impersonations, the Island School “pets”, as well as a throwback to my favorite childhood TV show, Rocket Power.  Thursday night was also the first we were all back together after the hurricane.  K3 returned from Down Island, and K4 from kayak; it is great to be reunited and together again for the rest of the semester! For the students on academic rotations, Thursday was our all-day Research day.  Most groups did not go out in the morning, but we were all able to go out by the afternoon.  My research group, Climate Change, went out with the Bonefish group and after what seemed to be an unsuccessful afternoon, we were able to catch about fifteen bonefish right before we were about to leave!  Friday was our day off, and we spent some time preparing for the haunted house we are putting on for our DCMS buddies tonight.  Everyone is excited for the haunted house, and hope we can pull everything off and live up to last year’s!

Student Update November 1, 2012

For the first time today, since the hurricane, everybody will be back on campus. It is the last day of academic rotations, as K4 will return from their down island trip and K4 will return from their kayak. Finally, even through hurricane Sandy, we made it through our kayak and academic rotations. Today is also Island School Halloween. Usually, we would have set up a haunted house around campus for the Deep Creek Middle School kids, but because of the hurricane school was closed for a period of time and we had to move it to this Saturday. I am even more excited about having it later because that means that we will be able to do it with all of campus instead of doing it with just our academic rotation. The theme this year is supposed to be similar to the Walking Dead, a HBO TV series, which means the entire student body will be dressed as zombies and chase the middle school-ers around for the night. Needless to say we are all excited.

Morning exercise today was big surprise. Today was scheduled to be a run-swim, but turned about to have a Halloween twist. [slideshow] We were given flag belts at the start and told “wear these so that we can see you in the water.” As I swam across the first cut, I could see a few bodies lying on the ground just in front of the tree line, but had no idea what was going on. Continue reading

Student Update October 29, 2012

Campus has begun to quiet down again, as K2 and K3 have left again to finish the remainder of their wilderness trips. Run and swim track begin again today, training for our super swims and half marathons. The twenty four of us who are still on campus have continued with our academic rotation and are now nearing the end. It was an interesting experience to have classes with just so few of us. Yet, the lack of people was made up for by even more exciting classes. Today I experienced my second to last Human Ecology rotation. Meaning that every other morning block so far has been an elongated human ecology class. Each of these stud different topics, such as Permaculture, Aquaculture, Aquaponics, and energy. I was luck enough to have Aquaponics on the day where there was a Tilapia harvest. I spent a large portion of the morning about shoulder deep in the Tilapia tank, which has about 300 fish, catching as many as I could with a net. It turned out to be one of the best mornings I have had here so far, especially after we got to fillet the fish and make some pre-lunch fish tacos.

Some of us have been going the smallest bit stir crazy, as we were not allowed to leave campus for several days because of the high winds, waves, and storms. Our biggest excitement was going to high rock that week, one place we were allowed to go with a faculty member. Driving up everything seemed average, but after walking out from behind a turn onto to rocky coast everything was wild. [slideshow]Huge waves surged out in the sound, some of them surging into the rocks of high rock and creating a fifteen foot high wave of water that splashed everywhere. That combined with the powerful wind made for an incredible experience. Continue reading

Student Update October 28, 2012

The past two days on campus have been eventful to say the least. Hurricane Sandy decided to make a visit to our campus this past Wednesday and Thursday. The kayak trips were brought in due to the weather and are now going to be going out in a few days once the storm has passed. Many of us watched the weather radar as the big globs of red and yellow slowly inched closer to us, unsure of what would really happen when the storm finally reached us. The days leading up to the storm were spent preparing campus. I spent the day helping to board up the windows of Boys dorm, as well as clearing the porches so that none of our clothing would turn into flying debris.

Once the storm was upon us, we spent the majority of the day in boys dorm, watching as much TV and movies as we could before having to return back to school, whenever that would be. It was almost and eerie night, the windows blacked our because of the boards and the only sound being the wind pounding against the roof, windows, and doors of the dorm. Nonetheless, it seemed not to phase our afternoon. We all were enjoying so much needed downtime and had no complaints about being told that the remainder of the day would be spent in our beds. Continue reading

Student Update (finally…) October 28, 2012

Our post-Sandy internet on campus has been limited. And, the days leading up to the hurricane were a busy rush of preparation and planning. Our apologies that this has prevented regular Student Updates from being posted. So now, please enjoy one update written early last week by our new blog writer for the remainder of kayak rotations: Reilly Simmons. And, later today, look forward to a post-Sandy update written by Reilly yesterday.

I’m Reilly Simmons and I will be writing the blog during this academic rotation. Having returned from our kayak and down island trips, K1 and K2 are now back on campus. We were excited to see all of our friends who were in the opposite rotations as us (K3 and K4) and we happy to see them after the eleven days we spent outside of campus. My fellow K2-ers were pleased to be back in our dorm yesterday night, feeling as if our rooms were five start hotels compared to our previous nights on kayak. Only ten days earlier, leaving from campus, we paddled around to the leeward side of the island, stopping at various white sand beaches to camp for the night. Most of us were lucky enough to go spearfishing on our kayaking on our trips to gain a local perspective on where our food comes from. At some point, I even found myself breaking the surface of the Caribbean sea, spear pole and fresh lobster at hand. Eventually paddling all the way around the cape of the island to reach lighthouse beach, the site where we would all do our solos.

Spanning the beach, all twelve of us were confined to our own personal slice of the beach to reflect for the following forty-eight hours. Continue reading

Down Island Magic

I tend to be sentimental, but I would not consider myself overly-fantastic or dreamy. I am a reasonable thinker, I think. So, I do not usually find myself using terms like “magical.” But, waist deep in an inland salt lake, surrounded by more seahorses than students, it was the single word that kept running through my mind. I first heard it described that way by our Marine Ecology teacher Peter Zdrojewski. He told students about a magical pond full of seahorses that they would encounter on their Down Island Trips. Having lived and traveled in a number of Caribbean countries, and having studied and engaged in a variety of regional ecosystems, Peter is familiar with local organisms and not one to overly-idealize experiences here. So, as we first stepped into the pond, to wash the Hatchet Bay Cave mud off of ourselves, and as we strapped our masks to our faces, in anticipation of underwater magic, we were admittedly a little disappointed when at first, we didn’t see anything. Silty bottom. Algae. “I was imagining a small pond and a lot of seahorses,” admitted James Boyce, adding that the apparent “pond to seahorse ratio was a little disappointing.” But, then we looked more closely, just as Peter had instructed. Taking careful steps to ensure we did not step on the algae patches, just as Peter had instructed. And then… the underwater enchantment began. The tiny curly seahorse bodies appeared, from the slimy green underwater clouds, just like magic.


Student Update October 19, 2012

It has been yet another week of craziness here at The Island School! In preparation for the second rotation of Kayak and Down Island Trips, the academics have picked up and our schedules are busier than ever. This week has included everything from our first night dive and all-day research classes to 8-mile runs and triathlons. As always, this week we were introduced to a new and unfamiliar activity: legacy work. In the days prior to the 4 hour block on which the schedule read ‘legacy work’, the only clues our teachers would give as to what this mysterious task could be were the words ‘you’ll see!’ Even when we gathered at the flagpole in our familiar community circle to begin, none of us had any idea what was going on. After a brief explanation, we all came to the realization that, as the name clearly states, that 4 hours was a time for us as a semester to contribute to the physical campus and leave our own legacy for future generations of Island School students.

The project I was working on was clearing the area just outside of the dining hall of plants and vines which have woven their way all across campus. The ultimate goal is to create a long dining table between two palm trees, which will hopefully be finished by parents weekend so we can all enjoy dinners with our families that are a little less crowded. Continue reading

Fall in Love with Marine Ecology

In order to demonstrate their newly discovered knowledge of marine species (the good, the bad, and the attractive…) Marine Ecology students have been creating original “” profiles for local marine life.  Check out these hot new profiles and ask yourself: who would you rather spend an evening with? The generous and independent Encrusting Fan Leaf Algea, the fancy dancing Pederson Cleaner Shrimp, or the overbearing Lionfish?

Encrusting Fan Leaf Algae Profile by Hope Logan:

Don’t be deceived by my phylum, a very attractive algae. I have large, round leaves a little  smaller than your hand. My pad is awesome, I live on coral reefs so there’s a ton of sunlight because I need it to live. But thats just about the only thing I need, I’m not a needy organism at all. In fact, I’m very self sufficient. So I don’t need to rely on anyone to bring home the bacon, I got it. Just gimme some some sunlight to photosynthesize with and I’m good, because I’m an autotroph. I provide well for myself, but, I’m a sensitive guy and I also like to give back to the whole community around me.  By fixing carbon into oxygen, I produce not only enough food for me, but also oxygen and nutrients for all the organisms on the reef around me. Because of this, they call me a Primary Producer, you see, I’m an important guy on the reef. I feed a lot of juveniles, beautiful fish, and everyone else who needs to be fed. I’m so generous I even feed those ugly Fuzzy Chitons. I make the reef a better place, and without me, the reef would not have the biodiversity that it has. I know my place and have found my niche. I fulfill my role on the reef and am confident in it. Continue reading

Student Update October 13, 2012

This morning marks about a week since we have begun doing chores before exercise, given the fact that it is still almost pitch-black dark at 6:30am when we all sleepily shuffle down to morning circle. It seems that this change in daylight is the only indicator of a changing season and the nearing of what would be winter months at home in Massachusetts. Here on Eleuthera, though it does remain darker in the morning, the days still seem to be summer and we continue to sport shorts, t shirts, and bathing suits…in the middle of October! Anyway, yesterday was a long and very full day, which is to be expected of every day on The Island School campus. A constant stream of activity, human ecology, history, math, Wemyss Bight Walkathon etc. made for a happy group of students who all flopped on their bed at check-in with that always welcome “tired in a good way” feeling. Continue reading