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The Olympics by Lily Kaye

As the we eagerly set up stations in the dining hall, the sounds emanating from the 44 other students stationed around the flag increased. About an hour earlier, the 4 other caciques and I posted the 11 teams and declared that extra points would be given to the teams with the most spirit, creativity, and, of course, the best costumes. In the final moments before the official Saturday Night Activity began, the 4 other Caciques and I went out to the flag pole, triumphantly observing all of our peers dressed up in extravagant costumes ranging from wetsuits to cowgirls to USA-themed and even to people dressed up as other members of their team.


Last Saturday’s evening activity was The Olympics. Essentially, there were various stations and competitions set up around the dining hall that each team competed in. There were prizes awarded to the every team, but the team with the most points got to choose which prize they wanted, as there was a wide range of awards from a dawn dive with hot chocolate or lunch with Maxey to a day with endless ice or a high-five workshop with Tom.

The evening started with a short briefing in the prez room and then the students were set loose to come up with a jingle/cheer/performance of sorts to represent their team. These were then presented and points were awarded for the best one—a team decked out in safari hats and PFGs took the win for this category with a hilarious dance/skit about Steve Irwin. Following these performances, each team chose a representative to complete the first challenge: thawing a thoroughly frozen t-shirt, untying the numerous knots, and finally putting this t-shirt on. I was later informed that teachers all the way at CEI were able to hear the excited cheers from the dining hall, showing how enthusiastic everyone was! As the night went on, teams traveled from a plank contest—where the Island School plank record was set by Charlie Widing—to apple bobbing, to “mystery cup,” and a few others.

The evening ended with birthday cake for Baker Casagrande’s 17th birthday and an announcement of the winners. It was an incredibly energetic, action-packed night that students and teachers alike enjoyed.

Half Way There by Lizzy Feldmann-DeMello

Lizzy and Meg before departing on their 8-day sailing trip on Thursday
Lizzy and Meg before departing on their 8-day sailing trip on Thursday

Hey guys! We’re almost half way there. So many things are happening this week and in the weeks to come. Thursday of this week we had our midterm demonstration of learning (DOL) presentations. DOL’s are basically when students talk about a specific event at The Island School and talk about how that has changed or accentuated his or her perspective. The next day we had kayak relays for morning exercise. This is where four teams – the four 3-day kayak groups – compete against each other by doing a run swim with added exercises and kayaking. Spirits were high and the sense of competition and teamwork scented the air. Although there was a set order to who finished first, there were other opportunities to gain points; it could not be determined who won from who finished first so the points were tallied and the winning team was announced at dinner that night. On top of that, Monday, we began our three-week rotations. For approximately 8 days a group of students will be kayaking or sailing, another will be on campus attending classes and the last group will be on the down island for a Histories tourism unit. After the 8 days are over, the groups will all rotate. During the kayak or sail trips students will have the famous 48-hour solos. During this time the students will only have a tarp, gorp, water, and certain necessities (excluding a watch, flashlight, books, etc.). It will be interesting to see how this 8-day tip will differ from the 3-day at the beginning of the trimester.

2016 Maxey Cacique Alumni Award


Every year, The Island School is proud to present the Maxey Cacique Alumni Award to honor one alum who has lived our mission to make a difference in the world.  Our alumni community includes over 1,500 individuals who have achieved outstanding accomplishments since transitioning back home from The Island School.

This year, we honor Peter Meijer from the Spring 2005 Island School semester. Peter was chosen by his peers and the faculty to be the final class Cacique in celebration of his leadership and commitment to the community.  Peter was always looking out for that individual who might feel left out; he would reach out and bring them into the circle, Maxey remembers. After returning home from his semester at The Island School, Peter graduated from East Grand Rapids High School and received an appointment to the US Military Academy at West Point. He later transferred to Columbia University and continued to serve his country enlisting in the US Army Reserves. Peter deployed to serve on Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn from the summer of 2010 to the summer of 2011. He spent his time in Iraq embedded with the Iraqi Army as a combat advisor at Joint Security Stations in the Baghdad area. Upon returning home from his tour of duty, Peter rejoined the student body at Columbia and graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and Political Science. Currently, Peter is studying for his MBA at New York University’s Stern School of Business where he is scheduled to graduate in 2017.


Peter’s transition back from the military to civilian/college life led him to join the Student Veterans of America (SVA) organization where he was recently appointed Vice -Chair of the Board. The mission of SVA is to provide veterans with the resources, support, and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and beyond. As a leader at SVA, Peter helps other young veterans by serving as a mentor as they return to civilian life. The organization also helps with the social and emotional issues many veterans have when returning home.

Peter also volunteers for Team Rubicon, a nonprofit disaster response and humanitarian aid organization that organizes military veterans to respond to crises. With Team Rubicon, Peter was part of front line volunteer disaster response team providing critically needed aid in South Sudan, the Philippines, Moore, Oklahoma and in New York City following Hurricane Sandy. Peter sums up his main mission at Team Rubicon as to help people — restore a sense of normalcy, he says, but there’s this beautiful silver lining. It also helps the vets, who often struggle with suicide, mental health issues, PTSD, issues of unemployment, how to integrate. All these difficult issues. When you try to work on them directly, you don’t make much progress. But when you’re working with other vets at a disaster, all those really difficult emotional bridges to get across fall away on their own. It’s the most gratifying thing.


Much of Peter’s inspiration for his volunteerism and willingness to help people came from his late Grandfather Fred Meijer. Fred was known for short quotes or “Fredisms” that Peter has carried with him always. One that immediately comes to mind as inspiring to Peter is:  “No matter where you are and what position you have; you can always try to do good.” Peter took his Grandfather’s wisdom to heart and is living it every single day. For that reason, we at The Island School are honored to recognize Peter Meijer as the 2016  Maxey Cacique Alumni Award recipient.

Congratulations, Peter, from all of us here at The Island School! We cannot wait to hear more about the good work that you do out in the world.


“What Do You Do Everyday at The Island School?” By Ellie Fredrickson

A question I am asked constantly. There are so many different things we do everyday it’s hard to believe that some things that happened 12 hours apart were even in the same day. When I was a potential student, I remember wanting to know what a daily schedule is here, coming from another student. And the secret is, we never do the same thing everyday. Every single day is a new adventure.

At 6:15am, Girl’s North Dorm wakes up blasting music to get the day going. Its early, but its so exciting waking up because the day is full of adventures and opportunities.

At 6:30am we head to circle, and the caciques (student leaders of the week) and faculty make some announcements and then we head off to our designated track: run or swim. I’m a runner, and our typical track is about 4 miles daily, but the courses are always different. Some days instead of our tracks we do psychos, bizarros, or run swims (all things you will learn the meaning of at The Island School). On Saturdays we get the option of yoga or a team sport (ultimate frisbee, soccer, water polo, etc) and it’s an awesome start to the weekend.

7:30am we have chores, a group of about 3-5 of us in our designated spots for the semester playing music and making the campus spotless.

At 7:50am we have personal space, and basically we just make our beds and put away clothes. You’d be surprised how messy Girls Dorm can get in 24 hours.

8:15am is finally breakfast! We get so much done before 8AM, but it’s so cool because we still have the whole day ahead of us. Personally, my favorite day is Oatmeal Friday’s. Don’t miss it.

9:15am classes start-we have two 90 minute blocks but they go by fast.

Lunch is at 12:15pm, and typically at meals it only takes 20 minutes to eat, so I usually go back upstairs and hammock or start my homework for the next day.

At 1:15pm we have more classes, usually 90 minute blocks again but it varies. On Mondays and Wednesdays we have research class and that goes until dinner. But occasionally we have things like beach clean up, World Cup, or gym class with the Deep Creek Middle School. These are always the best days.

On days we don’t have research, 4:15pm is exploration time. Usually that would be Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (because we still have school on Saturdays!!) Explo is my favorite part of the day because it gives you a chance to explore outside of the Island School bubble. One piece of advice: never EVER do homework during explo. My motto is “we didn’t come to Island School to do homework all the time.”

6:00pm is circle again, where we regroup and start to settle down for the night. We have dinner at 6:15pm, and then after we typically have the whole night to relax and do homework. The workload here isn’t too bad but you should know how to manage your time well.

10:00pm is check-in, where everyone has to be upstairs but can still be doing homework. At 10:30pm all the lights are out. Although 10:30 seems early, the day is so exhausting it’s almost too late. I haven’t even seen 11:00pm.

This is our daily schedule from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday we get the entire day to ourselves until 6:00pm with an optional freedive in the morning. Of course this isn’t what the entire 100 days looks like though, because there is only a short snippet of time that we have a structured schedule. Like I said before, The Island School is 100 days of continuous adventures, and like snowflakes, there are no two days alike.

Mornings throughout the Week by Quentin Andersen

6:10 - Wake up time! North side alarm goes off.

6:15 - I get up out of bed to turn on the lights.

6:21 - The rest of the dorm starts to get out of bed.

6:26 - Most boys are up and out of bed, getting ready for their respective morning exercise.

6:30 - The time that we are supposed to be out for circle. Unfortunately, that does not happen every morning, but it’s not always the fault of the boys.

6:40 - Morning exercise begins.



Mondays are usually days for regular run/swim tracks. Run track is different most days where students will do a variety of different running workouts. I personally am in run track and we have quite a few different routines. Our runs usually range from a minimum of two miles and we’ve maxed out at about six to seven miles thus far. Other workouts consist of timed sprints with slow jogs in between each sprint. The end goal for run track is a half marathon. Swim track has their own workouts to prepare them for a four-mile swim at the end of the year.



Tuesday is our once-a-week long track. Run track runs down the Queens highway for a certain amount of time and turns around to run back once that time is up. Last week, we ran twenty-five minutes down the highway and then ran back. Swim track also has long track, and they swam to a pole toward the marina. Their swim was a total of about one mile.



Wednesday mornings are special because we can sleep-in. Usually, we have circle at 6:30 in the morning. Wednesdays, first circle isn’t until 8:00 AM, however, there is an optional free-dive available to students who would like to participate. Free diving is simply diving without a SCUBA kit. Usually, we travel to Tunnel Rock dive site on Wednesdays. Tunnel Rock is the shallower of the two free diving sites that we habituate. It is a massive coral head that is full of holes and tunnels. Its deepest point is about thirty-five feet and the top of the coral head is no deeper than fifteen feet below the surface.



Thursday’s morning exercise is normal run and swim tracks. Each group does their respective exercises just like a Monday run and swim track routine.



Fridays are either a regular exercise day or, as I call it, a “Special Exercise Day.” We could either have a “psycho”, a timed run/swim or regular track practice. A psycho is a combination of exercises and running. We start at the flagpole and start to follow a staff member as they run to a location. Once we arrive at said location we will participate in some sort of exercise for 1-4 minutes on average. We might do push-ups, wall-sits, leg-lifts, other abs workouts, squats (etc.). This pattern continues for about forty-five minutes until it’s time for chores.



I love Saturday morning exercise. Almost every Saturday, I would rather wake up early to exercise than to sleep in. So far, we have had the option of yoga or ultimate Frisbee at the marina. There was one day when we played soccer, also. Ultimate Frisbee is one of my favorite activities to play at home and having an opportunity to do it here is awesome for me. I love watching the sunrise over the ocean as a white disc flies effortlessly through the air (depending on who threw it). Ultimate is a great way to exercise but to have fun at the same time.



There is no official morning exercise on Sundays, but there is a free dive at 10:00 to the “cathedral” dive site. I love cathedral because it is different than Tunnel Rock, which gives me an opportunity to explore a dive site separate from the one we use for our Marine Ecology dives. One Sunday morning, I woke up at about 8:00 and used the “Flintstone” gym with Justin. The Flintstone gym is a pile of barbells with molded concrete on each end and a few sets of differently weighted, concrete dumbbells. One might be surprise how much one can do with such limited resources.

RUN / SWIM! by Ellie Storey

It is 6:30 in the morning, and the Spring 2016 students are already up and ready for morning exercise. We had dragged ourselves out of bed and threw our exercise clothes on. Still half asleep, we listen to the morning announcements and sing the national anthem. Everyone moseys down to the water in no rush, knowing that in three minutes we will be diving into the ocean to begin the infamous Run/Swim! We split up into dorm groups, dreading the words, “Alright, everyone in the water!” Getting in the cold water is the hardest part, especially when there is still a chill in the air. We take a minute to appreciate the beautiful sunrise over the ocean and mentally prepare for the tough twenty minutes ahead. Then one by one, each dorm starts their time and are off to the races.

During the first swim, arms and legs are flailing everywhere and it is hard to pull away from the pack. The first swim feels easy after a full night of rest, but the next few continuously feel harder and harder. We climb out onto the rocky shore and begin our first run. Then, we run until we meet the next bay and then dive into the water again. We repeat this pattern three more times until we reach the wall. The wall is about eight feet tall and definitely one of the hardest parts of the Run/Swim. Students approach the wall, regain their breath, and then use every ounce of their strength to pull themselves up and over the cement ledge. Sometimes with a little help from a faculty member or peer, everyone eventually defeats the wall and is off running again. We run through a big field and down the road a little ways until we reach the rock ledge. This is hands down the most exciting part of the Run/Swim for many of the participants. Everyone encourages and cheers on those who are nervous to make the intimidating jump. As our tired legs leap of the ground and plunge into the water, we get a second burst of energy. We continue the pattern of swimming and running four more times, but this time they feel ten times harder. Turning around the corner and seeing The Island School campus is one of the best feelings in the world. We push ourselves on the final swim, knowing that in a minute we will be sitting on a bench feeling proud and accomplished. We pull ourselves onto shore and sprint to the finish line. Those who have already finished cheer everyone on as they make the final leap to touch the flagpole. You can’t help but to smile after this accomplishment. We wait for everyone to finish, then gather around the flagpole for a final cheer. When we are allowed to leave, everyone rushes to the dorms to claim a shower. It feels as though we have been up for hours, but really the long day has just begun.

You can go as far on a trike as you can on a bike by Azam Janmohamed

My first full day as an Island School student was a whirlwind, and to begin it all was the introduction to my bike. Touted as the “key to your Island School freedom” I was anxious to begin my 100-day journey with the blue bike. However, I quickly learned that as a kid who never took his training wheels off, it was going to be a challenge.

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This challenge was no different than the ones we face everyday; riding a bike is just as mental as it is physical. The same way running a half marathon, or beating your personal best in a run-swim will push you to your limits, biking has pushed me to mine. It started with a couple of bumps and bruises, and admittedly a bit fear. My very first day on a bike consisted of pedaling for a grand total of 2 seconds before eating the gravel and dirt. I spent most of SCUBA week sitting in the bus while everyone else rode their bikes, but that’s where Jason gave me the idea to ride a trike!

With my huge training wheels in hand, I began riding the massive trike around campus and the inner loop. I realized that the comparison between our wheeled vehicles and freedom was not hyperbole, as I have been able to discover numerous parts of Cape Eleuthera which were previously mysteries. There have been difficulties with riding a trike, as it’s significantly bigger and slower, making some areas difficult to reach. In addition, they’re valuable for many different tasks on campus, making them difficult to find. Like any of the challenges we have faced at the Island School, we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations and are forced to make a change or continue to struggle.

In that faith I returned to my noble steed, with the intention of conquering the many nuances that come with two-wheeled cycling. I began pedaling on the Queen’s highway, and couldn’t make it any further than I previously had. It was in this moment that I was approached by Cooper. Andrew and Charlie. They were heading out on exploration, and they stopped and stayed with we for the majority of the next hour. We tried many different methods, and they stayed patient through my irritation and frustration. After a few more bumps and bruises, and the invaluable help of my friends, I was able to pedal three times in a row!

Despite the difficulties associated with my road to becoming a biker, I know challenges are aplenty at the Island School. We have all been physically and mentally pushed in a variety of different situations, beginning from our first night in Eleuthera. However, a constant among these challenges and difficulties has been the camaraderie and support fostered among our students and faculty. Throughout my difficulties with biking, I’ve received support from friends and teachers, all of whom seem genuinely invested in my successful transition from a trike to a bike. I will learn how to ride a bike, but I will never forget that you can go just as far on a trike, as you can on a bike.

Wednesday Morning Freedives by Meg Manning

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0150.When was the last time you free dived? Never? Me either. Until coming to The Island School, I never thought I could hold my breath for more than 10 seconds at a time. Hearing the crazy stories of Maxey sitting on the bottom of Cathedral, which is a giant rock that goes down 40 feet, felt like an unreal lie and heightened my self consciousness of breath holding, preventing me from ever trying. However, one morning when we were offered the option instead of sleep-in, a bold choice I know, I decided to take a leap of faith. Every morning here is an early morning, but there is something truly magical about being on a boat at 6:30 in the morning watching the sunrise over the water. All sleepy thoughts and foggy heads instantly fade once the golden beams break the horizon. I never truly understood the beauty of a sunrise until getting here. In the wise words of Peter, “the sunrise tells you all you need to know.” Getting into the water is the hardest part, but once your snorkel, fins and mask is on, the urge to jump in is unbearable. As a newcomer, you’re pretty much the worst free diver there, but with firsthand knowledge, that is not an issue whatsoever. Swimming over the massive rock, fish, coral, and sometimes turtles if you’re lucky, fill the reef with vibrant colors and movement. The first dive is always the hardest. Equalizing is awkward the first time and as much as you don’t want to accept it, patience is key. Diving deep into the blue abyss, suddenly a fire burns in your chest like no other pain you’ve felt before and swimming upward is the only escape. Breaking the surface, your lungs fill with air and the sensation is gone. But, then something comes over you and you have to do it again. This is the same feeling that makes you wake up every Wednesday morning to get into the water again. Until before you know it, you’ve broken the 10 seconds and can hold your breath for 20.

Check out Meg’s time lapse video of the other morning here: GOPR0128!

Confronting Challenges by Ruby Spitz, Sp’16


It’s seven in the morning and I’m laying in a hammock on the deck of girls dorm writing this blog and listening to Jack Johnson. I’m not wearing my glasses or contacts so I cant really see what I’m writing but hey—I like to live on the edge. That’s why I’m here, right? When I came here I had no idea how much of a challenge it would be in ways that I didn’t even imagine. I thought that jumping off cliffs and waking up early to exercise were going to be what pushed me. In fact it has not been those things, however six thirty run track is nothing to be scoffed at.

What really pushes me here is the combination of everything. I didn’t think I was coming to circus camp but I’m certainly learning how to juggle. It’s the five-hour research blocks, coupled with hour-and-a-half long classes. It’s getting up early and staying up late (ten thirty now feels like staying up late.) It’s being constantly around people and always on the go. However, this exhaustion is rewarding in its way. When I go to bed at night I am constantly amazed about everything that I have accomplished during the day. And when I wake up I find myself surprised that I have energy in the morning, yet everyday I wake up excited to face the next challenge, and there have been quite a few in the short month that we’ve been here.

During our ten-day orientation we had three days of SCUBA diving and three days of kayak. SCUBA diving was what challenged me the most between those two. I absolutely hated SCUBA diving at first, it seemed preposterous and stupid and ridiculous to try to breathe under water and my SCUBA diving instructor is determined to adapt and become a fish (Hi Pat!). Anyway, it was something that I feared and absolutely did not want to do twice a day. But that was what I signed up for so I did it twice a day for three days. I was particularly struggling with one of the drills that we had to do in order to get certified. Doing this drill involved taking my mask off underwater and then putting it back on. Every single time I took my mask off I would freak out and demand to go to the surface. However, on my last dive during the three day period, I was able to take my mask off, put it back on, and clear it. I felt an absolute rush of success. The dive that we did after was the most fun dive I’ve done so far—it was so beautiful and we took fins off and jumped around and I felt like I was flying. Something I feared turned into something that I loved.

Right after SCUBA came kayak. I loved kayak because I have been kayaking my whole life and was no afraid of it. I had never ocean kayaked before and we faced some nasty waves and currents. There were a few times when I would see a wave approach me and think: well, this is it. Those waves never ended up being the end, but it was nice when we were on calmer waters. Kayak was a beautiful experience. The water is so clear and blue and this island is a magnificent sight to see. Having a campfire under the stars on the beach surrounded by weirdos that become your best friends is one of the best things ever.

Now we’re in academic weeks that go by in the blink of an eye. Everyday is a new challenge, a new piece of homework I don’t think I have time to do, another long run on a hot morning. Yet everyday I am able to overcome those challenges, I do the things that I never thought I would be able to do and that is the beauty of The Island School, you discover that you can do so much more than you ever thought you could.