Category Archives: Student Update

Student Update: Fishing

Research fun day: a highly anticipated day by all groups, everyone trying to out do the other. Our schedule was set, leave at 1:15 and stay out on the water until 7:15, fishing and trawling with a little snorkeling mixed in. With dinner and snack in abundance, bait and lures, and life jackets for all we set out into the Sound for a day of fishing and fun. The fist highlight of the day came when 5 minutes out of the dock an eagle ray jumped out of the water right in front of our boat. This set the tone for the next 6 hours- complete and utter awesomeness. Another hour of trolling with no luck was quickly forgotten when 2 pilot whales were sighted off the right side of the boat. The chase was on, but soon it wasn’t us being chased, both whales turned right at the boat and in moments were 10 feet away. Spirits high we set out and soon after the whale episode two Mahi hit the line simultaneously and Jeremy and Delphine landed them both. Cooler stocked we continued toward the evening sun at 7 knots, and feasted on sandwiches, GORP and cassava chips. More pilot whales appeared in front of us, and then a few behind us, and another to the left, and soon all around the boat was a school of 20 pilot whales feeding. The moment was short lived however because the sought after sound of the line being pulled whizzed by and a 4ft silky shark soon joined us on the boat, before we let it go. A patch of seaweed ripe for snorkeling appeared and a few of our team took the opportunity for a dip, only to get the opportunity to see a 5 ft Galapagos shark. Quickly back on the boat and a nice sunset ride home close what was a particularly memorable Island School evening.

-Ethan Pierce

Dakota, Ali and Ethan on the boat.
Dakota, Ali and Ethan on the boat.

Student Update: Kayak

Arielle and Nelle dressed and ready for K4.
Arielle and Nelle dressed and ready for K4.

After seeing the first two kayak groups return from their 8-day kayak adventure a different skin tone and their hair a couple shades blonder, I was hopeful for the day I would come back, looking as beautiful as they did. However, on the third day of kayak, K4 quickly realized that we would not have the same, sunny experience.

The day started out daunting with our leaders of the day informing the group that we had a long, twelve-mile paddle ahead of us. We needed to get so far because the following day’s forecast was not as good for kayaking.   So we put on our life jackets and spray skirts and launched our kayaks. The weather was dark, but fine until the last mile of paddling. Out of no where, the rain fell like a sheet.

As we pushed through the water and weather, we kept a tight pod and chanted a tribal song that then turned into yelling, then screaming. It was hilarious, magical, and miserable all at the same time. I noticed a huge grin across my face, as well as maybe a few tears.

When we finally made it to the beach, we were so ready to relax from our hard day of kayaking. The beach in front of us awed us. It looked like a different island, something more tropical and mountainous. Once we hauled up our kayaks, we all ran into the massive turquoise waves and body surfed in the rain. I couldn’t believe where I was, the warmth of the waves that surrounded me, and the amazing friends that tumbled with me through the water. It was crazy and exhilarating and an experience I will remember forever.

-Nelle Cabot

Khalil paddles into the rain.
Khalil paddles into the rain.

Student Update: IS Hunger Games

Delphine and Patrick show off their impressive Hunger Games costumes.
Delphine and Patrick show off their impressive Hunger Games costumes.

It’s 6:00am. Usually, we sleep until 6:20, but this morning is different. Today we are playing The Hunger Games for morning exercise. Girls Dorm is filled with palpable energy as everyone scrambles to find their costumes and prepare for the ultimate morning. The 53 of us arrive early to 6:30 circle, eager to commence.  We have prepared extensively for this day—mastermind planning, strategizing, making alliances, enemies…

The words “may the odds be ever in your favor” are spoken and before I have time to react to what is going on, everyone around me sprints to the cornucopia filled with precious weapons consisting of wet socks and water guns. This is where the weak are killed off and the remaining are left to find shelter…

Never take your eyes off the playing field. Do you play offense and attack? Or defense and hide? You are never safe. Be aggressive, but don’t make yourself too vulnerable. Trust your allies, but never take your eyes off of them—never give them your weapons. This is a selfish game…. don’t forget that. Ever.

When the final round comes around and there are only a few teams left, you know it is time to attack. If you are going to die, you need to go down fighting your hardest. Leave everything on the playing field and, may the odds be ever in your favor…

-Ali Boutros

Student Update: The Saddle

The Saddle, a snorkeling spot near campus, is a popular destination for exploration time. Here’s a report from student Crawford Patton about his recent visits.

Crawford takes a photo of himself at The Saddle.
Crawford takes a photo of himself at The Saddle.

This week I was trying to stay focused on getting in the water every day during exploration for the hopes I might see something really cool. I figured if I spent enough time in one place I was bound to see something awesome. So I went to the saddle every day for about an hour. I was doing my normal round and just happened to look over my back shoulder and saw a large nurse shark cruising right next to me. I was ecstatic, but it was almost as if he could sense my energy and took off, but not before I could get a picture with him.

-Crawford Patton

Student Update: The Barge

Students relaxing on the Cobia on the way out to The Barge.
Students relaxing on the Cobia on the way out to The Barge.

Last Sunday, for the first time since scuba rotations, K3 and K4 went on a fun dive! We took the Cobia out to a site called the barge. Half of the group sat on the roof, with the sun warming us almost to sleep. When we finally arrived at our dive site, called the Barge, we went through our buddy checks, and then my group took the plunge. With the Cobia rearing up and down next to us, we slowly kicked our way to the mooring line, gave a thumbs-down/descend symbol to our buddies, and sank beneath the waves. The first sight of the barge was awe-inspiring. It looked like someone had just dropped a giant grey rectangle in the middle of the ocean and left it there for the reef to claim. Throughout the entire dive, though, the coolest thing that I saw wasn’t on the boat, but under it. When Peter gestured to the crevice under the barge, I initially had no idea what he was pointing at. But as my eyes slowly adjusted, the shape of a triangle head sporting an open mouth filled with jagged teeth came into focus. The eel stayed in the shadows, but I couldn’t help slowly drifting away from it.

The descent to The Barge.
The descent to The Barge.

I spent the rest of the dive peering into portholes that led only to blackness, looking at lionfish discretely blending into the surrounding coral, and watching the countless colorful fish always surrounding these reefs darting in and around each other. When we finally ascended into the rough water above, I didn’t want to leave. But with much calmer weather on the ride back, it felt so good to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

-Maddie Nystrom

Student Update: Spontaneous Moments

Snorkeling in the deep blue.
Snorkeling in the deep blue.

Every Island School student looks forward to 4:15 during the school week. Until 6 you are free to do whatever you want. The typical Exploration Time during the school week is a quick stop at the Marina store to get whatever you have been craving during the day and then off to Sunset Beach. This past Exploration Time, as me and two of my friends were getting ready to go the Marina Store and Sunset; we were stopped by Peter and asked if we wanted to go out on the Mary Alice and snorkel. In that quick moment, we jumped to the offer and ran back up to girl’s dorm to get our snorkel gear and GoPros. We then ran to the faculty office to sign out and then quickly ran and jumped on the boat. Once we were all set and ready on the boat us three along with three other kids and three teachers took the Mary Alice out into the open ocean. After going fast for a little bit, we came to our location: the cage. We all jumped into the flat blue ocean and looked below us where an abandoned cage sat. Some people spotted an unidentifiable shark sitting on the bottom, but I was unable to see it. After spending some time free diving and looking from the surface at the cage, we all got back on the boat and drove out a little bit more. Once we were stopped again we all kept jumping off the boat. Once we had enough of jumping and spending time in the water, we drove back. This was by far one of the most fun explorations I have had this semester and I wouldn’t have gone if Peter didn’t stop us while we were on our way out to the Marina store.

-Sophie Moore


Of all the experiences I have been fortunate enough to have here, free-diving has definitely been one of the most satisfactory so far. It has been an area where I have achieved vast improvement since my start, as well as let me see so much more of the Bahamian waters and marine wildlife.

Every Wednesday and Sunday morning, if possible, I get up early to go free-diving instead of sleeping. On Wednesday that means waking up at six twenty rather than seven fifty. If it was not worth it, I would never forsake that much sleep, but it is. One of the benefits of free-diving is that many animals, such as sharks, do not like the noise that SCUBA equipment makes underwater. But in free-diving, you have no equipment, so some animals might not be as repelled as they would have if you were SCUBA diving. Whether because of this, or just out of sheer luck, I have been able to see as well swim with many amazing underwater creatures. Some of the more extraordinary examples include: a ten-foot Hammerhead Shark, an eight-foot wide Spotted Eagle Ray, a Hawksbill Sea Turtle, a Reef Shark, and much more. These amazing creatures have sparked a love of not just free-diving, but also marine life and the ocean that was not nearly as strong as before coming to the Island School.

Secondly, since my beginning of free-diving, I have been able to quickly notice my improvement. When I started, we were going out to Tunnel Rock Reef, where the water was about 35 feet deep. The first time I couldn’t even get to the bottom, then the next time I reached the bottom. After that I reached the bottom many times and was able to “chill” at the bottom for a time. Finally, after that I was able to do a swim through. While we were going to Tunnel Rock, we also went to Cathedral Reef every now and then. Cathedral is about 55 feet deep, much deeper and harder than Tunnel Rock, with an extremely long swim through. After working at it for a while, I can now reach the bottom and wait at Cathedral as well as Tunnel Rock. This large increase in my free-diving abilities has come through help of the instructors as well as pushing my limits. It feels great to be able to see yourself grow, and this theme is present in many parts of the Island School, but for me it is greatest in Free-Diving.

I am extremely grateful to have this experience, and it has been made even better with all of the work and fun of Free-Diving.

Nick Brittain


Last Sunday I had the opportunity to showcase my talents along with Island School kids and individuals from Deep Creek community. My friends Triston, Gus, Jeremy, Ian, Khalil and I traveled to Deep Creek along with Pat as our overseer. After arriving we shot around the court for a little while then played a warm in game to twenty-one before we picked teams ans played 4-4 basketball. In the first game the team was Pat, Ian, Michael and I against Gus, Triston, Khalil, and Jeremy. My team and I started the game out playing good basketball and we developed a good chemistry moving forward. We jumped out ahead with a big lead and then starting playing lazy which resulting in the opposing team gaining some points. However, we closed them out pretty easy once we decided play time was over.

The sun smiled its rays down on us as sweat gently dripped from our exhausted bodies. The next team to step on the court was a challenge, but I love challenges because they give you and opportunity to become better and make others better in the process. We were up against Darrel, Rachael, Cammy, and Brendan. “Screech, screech” was the sound our exotic shoes made sliding across the rouch cemented court. The game began with Darrel’s team jumping out ahead taking advantage of mismatches and leaks that they saw in our team. It was to my surprise that Rachael could play so well, she completely took advantage of my comrade Ian as Darrel bullied Michael in the post. It was time for me to stop taking a back seat, I demanding the ball and went to work scoring multiple baskets in a row. An intense game went on and no team would break first with the scored being tied 20-20 in the long run. It was our ball and the moment was bright what will I do, pass to my partners or take it the hoop and do what I do best score? I crossed over Brendan and drove to the rim as a diversion knowing in my mind that Darrel would switch over to help because he had a point to prove that he was this superstar player and wanted to advertise it to the world. Knowing that I could still try and make the shot I gave it it to an open teamate for the shot in which they missed resulting in the opposing team grabbing the rebound and claiming possession of the ball. I played defence to the best of my ability and in the corner of my eye I could see Darrel posting up Michael and asking for the ball while he was in the post up position. The thought in the back of my head flickered that Darrel would score if he got the ball and if I left Rachel to help on defence she would automatically receive the ball and it was a high percentage she would hit the shot. Therefore, I decided to stay on my opponent desperately hoping Michael would protect our basket in which he was unsuccessful in doing and resulting in our defeat. We lost that game 20-22 and yeah it was heartbreaking but I am a great competitor and use experiences to make me a better person and basketball player in life. I shook hands with everyone and exclaimed good game for I knew I would have a next opportunity in the near future to showcase my talents and this time I’ll lead my team to victory.

Danaldo Pinder

Student Update: Turtle Research

Research classes are in full gear as students put together the results sections of their projects and start to assemble their final posters. Here’s what student Lane Kearney had to say about her Turtle project.

One by one we toss our fins and snorkels onto the Scute, a small, single engine motorboat. We all pile in and position ourselves so all 8 of our eyes are on the water. The search now begins. Green turtles are hard to spot in this creek. Underneath the still aqua water, sits an array of coral blocks. While the boat is moving, it is easy to mistake these stationary objects as sea turtles. We all keep our eyes transfixed on the oceans surface until one of us shouts, “Turtle!!” This is when the excitement begins. I double check to make sure my fins are securely on my feet. I grab my mask, and speedily put it on my face. I fling my legs over the side of the tiny boat, and wait for Annabelle’s voice. “Go!!” I use my hands to propel myself into the warm waters. As soon as I hit, my arms and legs start moving as fast as I can. There is one thing on my mind, “catch the turtle.” My arms pierce through the water as I power myself towards the turtle. The turtle is using all its might to get as far away from me as it can; I won’t give up.

He finally dips down into the water and then starts to make his way to the surface for a breath, this is my chance. I reach my arms out, and grab under his front flippers, the turtle’s strongest joint. I have him in my hands. He fusses and moves his flippers around in all directions. As he is squirming frantically in my hands, the Scute makes its way through the water to help me. Annabelle relieves me from the stressful moment by grabbing the green sea turtle out of my hands. We place him on the boat, and transfer him to the lap of another member of the research group. We ensure the turtle’s comfort by placing him gently on an orange life jacket, keeping steady hands on the front flippers. We take the measurements that we need to gather for our study. It is then time to put the little guy back where he belongs: the clear sparkling water. We all watch as he is slipped back into his environment. He happily paddles away. Another successful day in the life of the Juvenile Green Sea Turtle research group.

-Lane Kearney

A student holds a turtle in preparation of data collection.

Student Update: Deep Clean and Kayak

The first kayak group finishes their 8-day today. As we prepare for their return to campus, student Jessa VanderWeide took a moment to reflect on the moment she learned which kayak group she was in.

At about 5:00pm on Thursday afternoon on the Island School campus, the girls’ dorm was in the midst of our 2nd deep clean. As clothes were being thrown across the room, and brooms were gliding across the floor, a high pitch scream came from Girls Dorm North. Although you may think this is bizarre, it’s truly not: just your average day. Music was blaring from the common room as we continued to clean and clean and clean (oh, and clean). Our usual song was playing-Stolen Dance by Milky Chance- as we continued to prance around, removing all existence of dirt, sand, and hair that builds up as the weeks go by. Quite possibly, this deep clean was needed.

All of the sudden the whole dorm erupted in a loud scream. Girls were running around like maniacs- also not unusual. But something was different this time. A second later a loud voice echoed through our humble abode: “KAYAK GROUPS ARE UP!” This was a moment we all had waited for. Several girls threw their mops down and sprinted out the door, only to be brought back a minute later by the news that we had to finish our deep clean BEFORE we saw the groups. At this news, we completely changed into beast mode. The floor was being swept in half the time, and mops were flying around the dorm like they were magic- and everyone was lending a hand. The fact that we would soon find out our kayak groups excited us so much that we then worked as a well-oiled machine to finish the remainder of the deep clean. Teamwork like never before. As the last beds were made and towels hung, we all sprinted out the doors, down the stairs, and to the dining hall. Once again, screams were heard, and excitement was more than present for the kayak trips and next 50 days of this Island School adventure.

-Jessa VanderWeide

Students Jessa, Maddie, Noelle, Lucy and Maya clean their dorm.
Students Jessa, Maddie, Noelle, Lucy and Maya clean the south side of the dorm.