The idea of a Gap Year is to take a step back to view the big picture. To take a step back to look at where you’ve come from, where you’ve gone and see where you’d like to go. To take a step back so you can take the right steps forward.
The program here came to an end last week, culminating in the students Demonstration of Learning and Graduation ceremony. Over the past nine weeks Eryn, Ryan and Jordan have made profound change in their own lives and of those surrounding them.
All of the things that were accomplished by these amazing individuals are difficult to quantify with words, however a list of all the things we delved into over the program might suffice:
- Taking marine ecology classes
- Teaching an environmental issue class of their own
- Taking a human ecology class
- Community service projects
- Down Island camping trip, experiencing a sense of place on Eleuthera
- Community outreach at the Deep Creek Middle School
- Conducting the Fall 2013 shallow water conch surveys
- Adventuring on 5 day Kayak expedition
- Being part of a research team as an intern for three weeks
- Getting both Open Water and Advanced Scuba certified
- Presenting their learning to the wider community
They have each proved themselves in both a personal and professional setting, being part of the community family and involved with the research facility. During the student’s demonstration of learning it was clear how much they are taking from the program. The diverse learnings of each student are a testament to each of their personal challenges and growth.
We would like to wish the Gap Year Team of Fall 2013 all the luck in the world as they move onto other endeavors and experiences, we hope you take what you learned here and build upon it. You are the game changers.
If you’re interested in joining the Gap Year Team of Spring 2014 or learning more about the Gap Year program in general, you can find out more on our website; http://www.ceibahamas.org/gap-year.aspx.
A group of 17 high school student visited DCMS for the first ever DCMS-Round Square Plastics Seminar in early October. Round Square is a world-wide association of schools that works to develop young people and their approach to life through experiential learning. Visitors were paired with DCMS Eco Club members to share perspectives on plastics pollution and have some fun.
“My buddy goes to boarding school in Massachusetts, but she’s originally from China,” said Eco Club member Marinique Leary, grade 8. “She is going to make posters for beaches and spread the word about preventing plastics pollution back in Massachusetts.”
Students got to know one another through ice breakers and games. “Mingling with the students was a nice experience because we got to teach them some of our customs and show them some of the activities we do at school when we have free time,” said Eco-Club member Patrick Johnson, grade 9.
The seminar was an opportunity for round table discussions on plastic pollution and how it is affecting the environment and our bodies. Students spent the afternoon at Wemyss Bight beach conducting plastic surveys for researcher Kristal Ambrose’s ongoing comparative research project on South Eleuthera’s beaches.
“It was great to have different ideas about how to handle plastic pollution. I think it was really fun to show the Round Square students a native beach and how clean it looks, but then show them how dirty it actually is,” said Eco Club president Zachary Carey, grade 9.
During their four days on island, Round Square students also spent time with researchers at CEI assisting with experiments, such as lionfish dissections with the lionfish crew. Students and educators alike are hopeful about the possibility of the seminar becoming an annual event.
Cape Eleuthera Institute and The Island School welcomed 18 South Eleutheran kids to campus this summer. Students participated in and were exposed to some of Cape Eleuthera Institute’s various research projects. Students took on the role of citizen scientists doing a conch survey at Wemyss Bight beach for CEI’s conch research program. They also contributed to research on bonefish and the flats ecosystem by seining at Broad Creek. Students learned about the invasive lionfish and its effects on Caribbean reefs by partaking in a class discussion, as well as a lionfish dissection. A Bahamian geology lesson on the sandbar was a great way to kick off the 40th anniversary of The Bahamas’ independence! Students snorkeled the sand areas around the sandbar where they discovered lots of critters—sea stars, sea cucumbers, sand dollars, heart urchins, milk conch, juvenile queen conch, sea biscuits, and lots more! For their last day, they headed to Rock Sound to explore the caves and the ocean hole.
The whole week was filled with many educational opportunities about the natural resources that the campers encounter in their daily lives living on the island. We hope that the kids will take these life-long lessons in water conservation and sustainability back home and incorporate them into their lifestyles.
Earlier this month The Island School was proud to host our 15th annual Teacher’s Conference! Each year, this conference attracts teachers who are interested in collaboratively exploring best practices in place-based experiential learning. This year, we welcomed 17 passionate teachers from the USA, Bahamas and Canada. Together, we pushed ourselves to feel like students again–often letting go of old fears as we dove, snorkeled, researched sharks & conchs, ran, jumped and committed to navy showers and other challenges of sustainable dorm living! By the end of the week, everyone felt like they had stretched as educators, expanded their network of peer professionals, and grown as individuals.
As CJ Bell shared, “This conference was one of the most meaningful professional development opportunities that I have experienced. Living in and learning about place based educational experiences and discussing different components of experiential education was enlightening and I cannot wait to take new ideas back to the classroom!”
Teacher Conference 2013 Alumni: CJ Bell & Annie Johnson of The Brookwood School (MA), Katisha Forbes of The Deep Creek School (Andros), Scott Moorehead of the Goodwillie Environmental School (MI), Maggie Karlin of Columbia Grammar & Prep School (NYC), Susan Morris of Berwick Academy (ME), Cheryl Ingram of Preston Albury High School (Eleuthera), Erin Mellow & Eric Russman of Kimble Union Academy (NH), Jaclyn Jones of Deep Creek Middle School (Eleuthera), Michele Werlin of the Farmland School (MD), David Ardley of Southern Illinois University (IL) and John Paul Brennan of Kipp Houston HS (TX), David Koning of Grand Rapids Christian (MI), Todd Loffredo of The Hun School (NJ), Desi Pena of the Spence School (NYC) and Megan McNutt of Trinity College School (Ontario).
The Island School is especially grateful to the schools who invested in professional development with us as well as to our supporters who so generously sponsored about 25% of the teachers in attendance!
Last week Justin Lewis, from Grand Bahama, Zack Jud, from Florida International University and Tiffany Gray, from Cape Eleuthera Institute, worked with Cassandra Abraham at Friends of the Environment in Marsh Harbour, Abaco on a flats program with local students from Abaco. This flats program was like a shorter version, just 3 days, of our 7 day sleep over Flats Week summer program at Cape Eleuthera Institute. It gives students a chance to not only learn the basics of flyfishing, but also immerse themselves into the ecology and conservation of the flats ecosystem. We had 5 students, all Bahamians, participating in the course.
The program started out on Tuesday, August 13th, with an informational presentation on bonefish and flats ecology. Zach and Justin also spent a bit of time that first day teaching students the basics on flyfishing where they had the chance to practice casting, some of them for the first time! That afternoon we headed over to Great Cistern to do an introduction on methodology and how to use the seine net. We saw lots of turtles, a shark and caught some shad (mojarra), crabs, shrimp, and other fun stuff in the seine net.
The second day we tagged 20 bonefish around Crossing Rocks, about 12 miles south of the Marls. Clint Kemp from Black Fly Lodge in Schooner Bay took us out with two of their flats boats for a Continue reading
Cape Eleuthera Institute said goodbye this week to SeaTrek, a group of students aboard a sailing, scuba, and marine biology expedition. They kept a very detailed blog during their time at CEI–check it out here!
The sun is shining, the water is glistening, and the gappers are getting antsy because we just finished our last full week here at CEI. This week saw the culmination of our intensive programs, and we all worked hard to finish out our independent work strongly. While a few of us spent time in the wet lab finishing up experiments or dissections, others worked hard to make their marks on campus through various projects. We also spent time working on our final human ecology papers, in which we all chose an environmental issue to research and discuss. Along with our papers, we began to plan our Demonstrations of Learning (DoLs), which we will be presenting to the greater community in a few days. It means a lot that we will get to explain what we’ve taken away from this island to those who are also lucky to call it home
Although our time on Eleuthera is coming to an end and we’re preparing to go our separate ways, we will carry the knowledge that we have acquired in the past super-awesome-cool eight weeks with us wherever we may end up.
What a busy week! This final week of February brought the midpoint of our intensives (see the previous post for background info), the much-anticipated Monster Run-Swim, and various other excitements!
Intensives continued for the gappers – for me that meant continuing on with the shark team, the highlight of which was discovering we sharking gappers are not bad luck (aka we finally got to help with a shark!!!). After a long morning setting up and then watching our line in the marina, tempting a number of sharks with fresh bait from fishermen down the dock, we finally had one large nurse shark bite! Jack, Shaper and I got to help Brendan and Ian take the necessary samples and measurements, plus tag the shark before releasing it again. This was the second-to-last nurse shark needed for the longline physiology study – wahoo!
On Tuesday night, various members of the CEI/IS community gathered for a Coffeehouse. Among a cluster of various talents from baking to putting chickens into tonic immobility (more commonly used – at least here – with sharks), Shaper performed an excerpt from the Vagina Monologues written by her friend, Sasek a poem by the spoken-word poet Andrea Gibson, and Jack sang Neil Young’s Heart of Gold with two of the interns. All around a fun, talent-filled evening!
Wednesday was Foundation Day, celebrated with participation in various activities (I went lobstering, which turned into Shaper and I practicing hauling ourselves into the boat – just getting buff), meetings with our “extended advisories” that we will be a part of (briefly) while the IS students are here, and a barbeque and bonfire on Sunset Beach! Continue reading
It’s week five of our time here on Eleuthera, and we started off the past seven days by diving head first into each of our intensive projects. Just a little background before I continue: for the rest of our time here at CEI, each of us gets to help out on various projects going on at the institute. Each gap year student will be doing something different for their last three weeks, depending on what projects interest them the most.
I spent the week working with the wonderful shark team here at CEI. Currently, they are doing a longline behavioral study, seeing how sharks act once they are hooked on a longline, and how this affects their blood counts. Two other gappers, along with myself, got to go out and help set and check the longline for sharks. As of now, we have yet to see a shark, and we are slowly becoming convinced that we have cursed the entire team. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this coming week will bring new results!
Other than intensives, we completed two more dives Continue reading
This Tuesday nine of us embarked upon a sea kayaking trip – destination: Lighthouse Beach for our 48-hour solo experience. With choppy waters, we paddled a whopping mile from campus before having to beach the boats and camp out for the night. Day two, we try again: only to encounter more sea-sickening waves and exerting far too much effort for the distance traveled. We stop for lunch and a nap on the beach, then out on the water again. Alas, we make it one-third of the way to our destination before resulting to hitching a ride the rest of the way to Lighthouse. Along the way, some lovely conversations, bonding over games of Wizard, and the best campfire pizza bliss. Valentine’s Day dawned upon us and we spent the holiday alone — in the most literal sense. Thursday marked the beginning of our48-hour solo. Seven of us scattered along the shore of Lighthouse Beach with nothing but pink sand, our thoughts, and the horizon of each new day before us.
Solo: a time for self reflection, awareness, acceptance. Ye of little faith who may be wondering, “What in the world do you plan on doing with your life?” Well, I took some time during my solo to contemplate this question and let me affirm your doubts by responding–I still have no idea. “But,” you say, “weren’t you supposed to Continue reading