Category Archives: Island School



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.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0480.Lead by a SCUBA instructor, students participate in one of their first dives.

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!DCIM100GOPROGOPR0417.

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.

You completed us!

5 years ago, we set out with an eye on July 1, 2016. We dreamed big. You believed in us. The Sharing Solutions fundraising campaign was launched with a Big, Audacious Goal and a belief that a small dedicated group of people can change the world. You did it!

What did you accomplish in the last 5 years? Since July 2011 Island School turned 15 years old, graduated its 1,500th leader, and Deep Creek Middle School graduated its 150th. You helped us finish building our science research campus and Cape Eleuthera Institute turned 10 years old. We’ve hosted thousands of students on short courses and internships – some of whom kept coming back up to 10 different times! You helped us save for a rainy day. You made sure that a third of families in each semester had the financial aid support to make their experience possible. You helped us start an Early Learning Center on campus and our engineering and communications teachers got a home and space to do their work. You helped us upgrade our boat and van fleet. You more than tripled our endowment to $6 million. You helped us invest in people and businesses here in South Eleuthera, and launch teachers and staff off into new careers. You met the overall goal of $15 million to make all of this possible – and surpassed it by over 30% through commitments in place for the next 5 years. Many of you through Sharing Solutions have invested and pledged to secure 10 full years of financial aid, professional development, and great educational experiences – over more than half of the life of our young endeavor.

Each gift helped – over 5,000 different times you made a choice in the last 5 years to make sure we thrive and grow and achieve all that you believed we could do.

Your legacy is profound. We are honored and tremendously grateful. Please come see what you’ve done – and help us celebrate in the coming year!

From Chris and Pam and the extended Island School family,
Thank you!

Alumni Spotlight: Maddie Hawk (SP ’10)

Maddie Hawk from the Spring 2010 Island School recently graduated from DePauw University with a double major in English (literature) and film studies. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Moarter Board and spent a semester abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark followed by a summer at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea as a research intern. She has also taught English and American culture skills to refugee immigrants in the Indianapolis area as an intern for Exodus Refugee Immigration.

Most notably however, Maddie has received word that she is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and will spend the 2016-2017 academic year in South Korea teaching English. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and established in 1946, the Fulbright U.S. Student Program competition aims to increase mutual understanding nations through educational and cultural exchange while serving as a catalyst for long-term leadership development.

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When asked to reflect on her time at The Island School, Maddie responded with:

“The Island School prepared me to immerse in any culture I might find myself in, which is imperative to being a cultural ambassador. Through community outreach programs, I knew how to engage with younger children and work with them in an extracurricular setting.  I remember Island School and my time there fondly. Just the other day, I was talking to my friends about SCUBA diving and reflecting on night diving and how amazing it was. I think that Island School prepared me for Fulbright in a number of ways. I’ve studied abroad three times, and Island School was the catalyst for it all. I never would have gone to South Korea or Denmark on my own without believing in myself. I can’t put into words how my time at Island School affected me, changed me. It prepared me to be an adult, taught me independence, self-sustainability, and gave me the confidence to tackle everything that is thrown at me. I don’t think I would have applied for a Fulbright without the Island School behind me. I approach the world differently, more openly. I remember one time, walking through the Eleuthera community, being completely un-phased by the many men carrying machetes. One family stopped a group of friends and me, offering to let us watch them skin a dead pig. I didn’t hesitate to say yes. I approached the situation openly, watching with rapt curiosity at a way of life so contrasting my own. The Island School granted me a confidence and security in myself, something that developed my comfort at approaching the world differently and seeing things through different perspectives. This mentality aligns perfectly with the mentality of a Fulbright scholar, someone who believes in the exchange of cultures and ideals with an open demeanor. Thank you always, Island School.”

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After her Fulbright experience, Maddie plans to continue her studies and pursue a Ph.D. in Film and Cultural Criticism. “My goal is to study how film interacts with culture, but also to explore the Korean film industry deeper as it is something that fascinates me. After my studies, I aspire to be a professor of film, and to begin a Korean cinema studies program at the university I teach.”

Congratulations Maddie! The Island School cannot wait to hear about your adventures in Seoul and beyond!

Summer Expeditionary Program ready to set sail!


We at the Island School are pleased to announce, in partnership with Hurricane Island Outward Bound, the first Expeditionary Summer Term. The program takes the form of a 19-day sailing trip, which includes time camping, conducting research and a traditional Island School solo experience. The expedition will depart from The Island School campus with experienced HIOBS guides and will spend 19 days navigating across the Exuma sound where the boat itself will serve as a floating, living classroom. Students will spend their time developing their sailing abilities as well as learning to understand weather, tidal and navigational skills.


The Island School is just finishing up its second semester of 8-day sailing expeditions with all students returning to campus tomorrow (May 7th). Campus will be filled with exciting stories of what they saw and experienced on the boat, in the Exumas, and during their solos aboard the Avelinda and Eliza Sue. The Island School and Hurricane Island Outward Bound are excited to begin the Expeditionary Summer Term and look forward to welcoming the first group of students in just over a month!


Welcome directors!

Departing faculty members Emma Alexander and Peter Zdrojewski  standing with 10 year veterans Merlene Munnings, Chris Maxey, Elidieu Joseph, and Christian Henry
Departing faculty members Emma Alexander and Peter Zdrojewski standing with 10 year veterans Merlene Munnings, Chris Maxey, Elidieu Joseph, and Christian Henry

Our board of directors leadership team gathered on Eleuthera this weekend to see the programs in action, and honor the contributions of faculty, board members, and alumni. Thank you to all of the directors who help us stay on track and growing – our shared success and future rests with you! Congratulations to all of the award recipients – we are honored to display your names in Hallig House.  

Alum Peter Meijer recently was awarded the Maxey Cacique Alumni Award, joining fellow board members Greg Henkes and Francesca Forrestal
Alum Peter Meijer recently was awarded the Maxey Cacique Alumni Award, joining fellow board members Greg Henkes and Francesca Forrestal

IS BESS students talk ponds at conferences

Christian McIntosh, a BESS scholar and a Fall 15 Inland Ponds Research Class student, recently presented the group’s work at the Abaco Science Alliance Conference.  This conference is a biannual event hosted by Friends of the Environment, where Christian is currently interning.  The conference invites scientists to present their work and findings to fellow scientists, as well as the local community and school groups.  Christian talked with passion about the unique life he found in the ponds of Eleuthera during his research class.

Christian McIntosh presenting at the Abaco Science Alliance Conference

Exciting news just in – last week Andrieka Burrows, fellow BESS scholar and Fall 15 Island School student, had her abstract accepted to present more ponds research at the Bahamas Natural History Conference this March. The goal of the conference is to inspire new avenues of research and cooperation across disciplines while highlighting the benefits of research of the environment, economy and human society of The Bahamas.  We are sure Andrieka will do an excellent job and create more interest and support for the conservation of these understudied and fragile systems.

Andrieka Burrows at work collecting data on inland ponds

We are very proud of our young scientists, Christian and Andrieka, and hope this is the start of not only the protection of anchialine systems, but the beginning of long careers in the conservation of The Bahamas’ natural resources.

If you would like to find out more about the Island School research, check out the posters published online by the Fisheries Conservation Foundation.

Island School students in the field assessing a pond and the life within

Board Leadership in Action

blogDrew Fink (F’05) gets pinned by Chris and Pam Maxey during the evening celebrations hosted by longtime supporters Les and Wendy Morris

In January, the Board of Directors for The Island School gathered in West Palm Beach, Florida for one of their three annual meetings. The purpose of the gathering was to celebrate transitions and alumni energy as well as share ideas on the direction and focus of the school as we head into 2016. Alumnus Drew Fink (F’05) was pinned with the starfish as he was welcomed into the ranks of the Board during this, his first meeting. Alums have consistently shown strong leadership and passion for The Island School and its mission of Leadership Effecting Change by volunteering for the Board. Drew was welcomed by returning Island School alums on the Board:

Francesca Forrestal (F’99), Thatcher Spring (F’99), Meg Bunn (F’01), Johann Scheidt (S’02), Nick DelVecchio (F’02), Greg Henkes (S’03) and Peter Meijer (S’05)

20160115_195304Chris Maxey talks with Board members Ande Frost (Parent F’04, S’09, S’13) and Greg Henkes (S’03)

Do you want to be part of the The Island School’s Board and play a significant role in the vision, direction and execution of the future of the school? We are reaching out to all Island School, Cape Eleuthera Institute, and Deep Creek Middle School alumni who are at least two years removed from college and would like to submit an application to the nomination committee. If you would like to be considered, and you are passionate about what we do, please write to with a resume and cover letter describing your interest. The basic requirements for membership are as follows:

  • Minimum of two years of experience in the work force.
  • Demonstrated service to the organization after your semester/summer term.
  • Skill set or demonstrated interest relevant to the work of the Board.
  • Consistent participation in CONCHtribution, the annual alumni giving campaign.
  • Accepting of financial obligations surrounding travel to meetings and other board engagements.

If you are interested, we can send you the Board’s handbook for you to learn more about what the expectations for a potential two year commitment entail. The two primary expectations that are held of all Board members are attendance of all three annual meetings (Boston, MA in October, Nassau, Bahamas in January and Eleuthera itself in April) at your own expense, and that The Island School is within your top 3 philanthropic commitments. If you have any questions or simply want to know more, please do not hesitate to reach out to and we will respond as soon as possible.




Local Students partner with Island School kitchen staff

The kitchen staff at the Island School recently hosted two classes of high school students from Preston H Albury High School.  During their time here, the students worked with Sophia and her team to prepare and serve lunch to our staff and visitors. The visits were in coordination with an elective consumer science course at the local high school.

The 10th and 11th grade students were on campus for a half day to help prepare and serve lunch, and to prep breakfast for the following day. They worked in small teams to tackle different parts of the meals such as the salad bar, hot dishes, sandwich ingredients, and creating condiments from scratch.

Preston H Albury High School is located in Rock Sound and is the only high school in the southern part of the island of Eleuthera. Students in the consumer science course focus on topics such as family economics and relations, nutrition, and culinary arts. Ms. Tamika Rahming teaches the course. Sophia Louis, our very own Kitchen Manager, says the partnership between Island School and Preston H is in the works and they are hoping to get a more regular schedule implemented for high school students.

Thanks to our kitchen staff for bringing the classroom into the kitchen!