Friends, Family, and Alumni,
The Fall 2016 semester is flying by. Because we’ve been so busy, it feels like only a few short weeks ago that we were unpacking our things and circling around the flag pole for the first time, but it only takes me realizing all that we’ve explored and accomplished over these past 70 days to realize just how long we’ve been here.
Time is definitely a challenging concept here. We often say, “Every day feels like a month and every month feels like a day,” simply because of how fast everything moves, but also acknowledging all that happens in one day. The way that I’ve learned to define time here is by the friendships and incredible connections that grow on a daily basis. The Island School is a really special place in that you are constantly surrounded by interesting, kind, and extremely supportive individuals that care so much about your own personal success. The friendships that I have created here with my peers are indescribable and so cherished, but my valued relationships aren’t limited to students. I find myself having a new, thoughtful conversation with a new member of faculty, a member of CEI, or a hardworking individual from the farm just as often as I do with my close peers. Both types of relationships are easily attainable and immensely valued by all of the students here. The community and connections that I have established here are two of the main reasons that I have become so attached to this place I now call home.
These wonderful connections only deepened and expanded over our three-week Expedition period. As we were split up into four different Kayak or Sail groups, people were worried about leaving their beloved routine and friends for three weeks, but little did we know all that was ahead of us. I embarked on a 9-Day Kayak trip the first week of Expeditions and was really excited about the bonding of my group, the friendships I’d be able to deepen, the solo experience, and all of the adventures we had ahead. I knew it was going to be both a challenging and rewarding week, but what I didn’t understand was how happy I would be when I’d return nine days later.
Solo fell towards the beginning of my kayak trip and I couldn’t be happier that it had. The exciting 48-hour experience that all Island School students think about when they apply had finally arrived and it was more emotional than I’d anticipated. While leaving one of my best friends at the very beginning, we both broke down into tears, not from sadness, but from feeling so much excitement and anticipation all at once. Once I had settled into my spot and looked out at the beautiful beach and ocean in front of me, the tears immediately ceased. Where I was and the incredible opportunity that was lying in front of me instantly made me so appreciative. During my solo, I was forced to live in the moment, taking the experience minute by minute. I was so content for the duration of my solo as I was able to reflect, write several pages in my placebook, and recharge. Coming back together with my group afterwards was one of the happiest moments I’ve felt here and it enabled us to have finish our last 5 days on a really high note.
As we kayaked back to campus the morning of Day 9, many of the faculty and students were out on the jetty cheering us on as we finished our final stretch. Seeing campus and the community we had missed so much filled our boats and bodies with pure excitement. As we reunited with the rest of the groups, the dorms and dining hall were full of nothing but stories and happy spirit. This energy carried over onto our Down Island Trip that followed. Exploring the island as a unit as we discovered the several impacts of tourism on this country was really interesting, eye-opening and our group was just overall excited to be back together for another 5 days.
All 50 of us are back on campus now, finding ourselves back into a pretty steady academic routine. As well as coming back together as a community, it’s crunch time for our research classes, we’re preparing for our art show, and our respective run and swim tracks are reaching our max-workouts before the 4-mile swim and half marathon. Campus is buzzing as we begin to prepare for Parents Weekend. We’re all very excited to welcome our parents to campus and share all that we’ve learned in just a few short days.
Thursday October 6, 6pm
Fresh air! Students got to fill their lungs with the breezy air this afternoon after two days in what has been labeled “The Fortress.” They visibly perked up after a few minutes standing on the CSD balcony.
Last night and this morning brought strong winds and more rain to campus. There were a few minor leaks that were quickly cleaned up in CSD with blankets and team work. Winds are now dying down and skies are brightening as the center of the storm moves north.
Today included more team building exercises, classes, games, and music in The Fortress. Spirits remain high and creativity strong. Our students never seem to tire of creating new things to pass the time.
Our current plan is to remain in our respective shelters until Friday morning. Classes and schedules should return to normal shortly thereafter (with some inevitable cleanup around campus).
We will continue to keep a close eye on the storm and its trajectory as the path progresses. We pass on the well wishes and good energy from our campus to folks in Florida and other areas in the U.S. that are predicted to be hit by Matthew in the coming days.
Wednesday October 5, 7pm
Good Evening Family and Friends,
Wednesday October 5th, 11am
Good Morning Parents and Friends,
Students visit the Island School’s facilities, including the aquaponics farm, to learn about sustainable living.
Hi! I’m Elodie Marran. To tell you a few things about myself: I’m a rising senior in high school, I live in London, England, and I was nominated as Cacique last night along with Matthew.
Yesterday marked the beginning of classes for the Island School summer term students. The people in the tourism and development class embarked on an adventure down the island for three nights for the class and their 24-hour solo. I started my sustainable systems class, which I’m super excited about, and we began by discussing what sustainability means to us and how to best achieve your goals of sustainability in a place. In the afternoon my class went over to the center for sustainable development where we learned about solar energy and actually constructed our own grid-tied and off-grid solar systems that powered lights and fans. After dinner we had an evening class where we watched Food Inc. I have already learned a lot in my sustainable systems class and, even after the first day, I found some new topics of interest that I want to explore more in depth.
Anne, one of the summer term instructors, answers students’ questions regarding the way that the Island School and Cape Eleuthera Institute operate.
On Thursday morning, the Island School summer term students had a community run-swim along with the resources team and the South Eleuthera Boy’s Camp. The run-swim was one with high spirits and motivation in everyone. From people helping others up the wall, which is a part of the route on these run-swims, to cheering everyone right to the end with high-fives and smiles once someone reached the flagpole. The reward of the tough run-swim was french toast and sausage for breakfast.
With everyone settling into their own daily routine at the Island School, the evenings have started to become quieter with everyone concentrating on their work or tired out after a full day of classes. It can be an exhausting day but we always get the most as one can possibly get out of a day.
Hey there! I’m Matthew, and I am a student in the Island School’s summer term! A little background; I will be an incoming junior next school year, and I live in Brooklyn, New York. I go to the New York Harbor School, a technical New York City public high school with a marine-based focus. I study marine biology as my focus, so I guess it was appropriate that I decided to attend the Island School! Ok, enough about me, more about what amazing things my classmates and I have done throughout their first week!
At this point, most of the students have received their SCUBA Diving certification from PADI. Very exciting! This process was a tough one, especially for me. In order for you to receive your certification, you must complete a list of skills underwater, some of which include breathing without your regulator, clearing water out of your mask, using a compass, taking off all of your gear and putting it back on, and many, many more skills. One skill in particular that I had trouble mastering was putting water in my mask and trying to clear the water. After the first dive, I asked Liz if I could sit out of SCUBA, and what did she say? OF COURSE NOT! As an Island School student, you must learn to persevere through challenging moments. Every student will have a moment they will struggle with, but here you will have to learn to cope with your struggles and overcome them. I think a lot of the culture of this school is determination and perseverance. So the next morning was a sleep-in morning, but the teachers noticed I was having some trouble, so they proposed the day before that I should come in early to try to master the skills I was struggling with. I agreed. I was freaking out, thinking about all of the worst possibilities that night, but when I got there, I lived in the moment and nailed it. In a couple of days, I was a certified PADI SCUBA Diver!
Sophie, a SCUBA instructor on campus, works with a student to help them clear their mask.
I strongly believe that part of the reason I was able to master the skills I had not already completed, was because of the great community and my classmates who supported me the whole way through. On the morning of the day that I mastered my skills, Adaam led a guided meditation. As I stepped on the edge of the dock, getting ready to jump into the water, I hear chants of my name. “Matthew you can do it!” “You got it, Matthew!” “I believe in you, Matthew!” I look to my right, and see all of my friends cheering me on, giving me so much confidence. I truly believe that because of that motivation, I was able to master my skills. The Island School community is such a special one.
Students jump from High Rock during morning exercise.
The island of Eluthera is full of wonders. Yesterday, we were given the opportunity to explore this adventurous place. Many people got up early to meditate at seven in the morning, while most enjoyed the rare opportunity to sleep in. The hundreds of beaches around the island attracted many of the Island School students during their time off. Going to the beach, finishing laundry and completing an essay were some of the many things juggled on the day off. In our free day we relaxed, discovered new things and prepared for the upcoming academic schedule.
Students visit Fourth Hole Beach to snorkel and relax on the sand.
Owen’s Day (cacique number 1):
Like many others, I tried to take advantage of the opportunity to sleep in, but of course that did not go as planned. The students who either woke up to say goodbye to Nathan (a student who had to leave early in the morning), or woke up to go to meditation made enough noise to prevent me from sleeping, which worked out in the end considering how quickly the day went by. After relaxing with some friends outside the dorm, we made our way to the marina store to enjoy some air conditioning and to do some laundry. After returning to school for lunch, I hung out with new friends and listened to some good music while writing a personal essay about our newfound connection to the land here on Eleuthera. After dinner it was off to night classes and then into our dorms until bedtime. I look forward to exploring the island more with the free days that we will be given in the weeks to come.
The Island School provides bikes to students to facilitate in our discovery of the island.
Mary Margaret’s Day (cacique number 2):
The girl’s dorm was up and about at around 6:50. Many girls ran to meditation in the morning while others took advantage of the sleep-in day. Later on, many students biked off to the various beaches while others stayed on campus to complete the essay that was assigned. Because everyone’s day was different, I will take this time to explain mine. First order of the day was the essay. Once completed, I went to Sunset Beach (a beach near the Marina). After swimming for a while, we decided to move on to a more adventurous destination. We went to Fourth Hole Beach. It is a secluded beach that looks incredibly close to a dream-like vacation destination. It was amazing. Despite my sunburned face, this day was easily one of my favorite Island School memories yet. Yesterday Island School students biked around the island of Eleuthera creating only one of the many amazing memories yet to come.
Dear Island School families,
We on Eleuthera have been following the reporting on the Zika virus in the news and want to update you on our response and address some concerns that have been raised. We are aware of the spread of the Zika virus throughout South America and the Caribbean, and are monitoring the CDC, PAHO/WHO, the US Embassy in Nassau, and local media and public health reporting in The Bahamas for updates. The CDC does not currently list The Bahamas as having any reported cases of Zika virus infection. Because the spread of Zika and other viruses to all countries where Aedes aegypti are endemic is predicted, we are applying our standing mosquito protection protocols for our community as usual.
The spread of these viral diseases is difficult to monitor properly – as the article mentions, infections of a specific type can only be verified in a laboratory test. We encourage prevention of mosquito bites – some students bring personal no-see-um mesh camping type nets for their beds, and bug-net pants and tops. We also promote use of DEET and encourage covering up with long socks and long pants and long sleeves.
We also monitor the CDC for general medical issues:
and the US State Department for safety, travel, and security:
We recommend you read the information in the above links and be familiar with the local issues.
The health of our students and communication with families have always been top priorities. Please reach out if you have any questions.