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!

Summer Term 2016: Cacique Update #3

Hello from sunny South Eleuthera! This is Robert and Silvie, your caciques for today, signing on. First off: a big thank you to Aadam and Zoe for handing off the cacique responsibilities to us. We are very excited to be the leaders of this fine day.

imageHammers practice their SCUBA skills

Now down to what we all want to hear about….Yesterday: Thursday, June 30. We started the day off right with some stellar Bahama style french toast doused in honey (as a substitute for maple syrup, as a Vermonter this was strange for me to wrap my head around, but it was actually super tasty!) Then, the Hammers suited up and got in the water to continue our scuba learning. My group finished up a few lessons in the morning and then in the afternoon we went to “Something to see” and did our first open water dive. The current was pretty strong and we were all getting tossed around a bunch and we didn’t actually see much at “Something to see” but we all had a blast anyways. Then we all ate a hefty dinner and parted ways for our evening lessons. Hammers had our first night MarEco (Marine Eco) class where we learned about what we will be doing these next few weeks (it’s exciting so stay tuned!). After that a bunch of us hung around outside to admire the stars (which are amazing out here) and play with the kittens! On campus there are three kittens (and counting) plus a big skinny cat and a big, big, BIG, fat cat — Fritter. We all love them, unfortunately it’s not mutual.

imageStudents explore the Rock Sound caves on their SERT

Yesterday the day started off early with a guided meditation led by our previous cacique, Aadam. The Tigers 2, which I am a proud member of, embarked on the SERT (South Eleuthera Road Trip). During our trip we headed down island and passed through the local settlement, Deep Creek. While in Deep Creek we visited a local grocery store and scoped out the most local item, which were fiery Eleuthera Hot Peppers. Also, we were able to find the item from farthest away: seaweed imported all the way from South Korea. After visiting the local shop we headed to a large and beautiful banyan tree, where we all reflected on the Danger of the Single Story in our place books. Next on our trip we visited a blue hole. If you’re wondering what blue holes actually are, they are massive craters filled with salt water that can stretch hundreds of fee† deep. While at the blue hole we were given an amazing opportunity to snorkel and explore the area. After we finished up swimming and exploring in the crater, we all sat at a nearby gazebo and ate some of the most amazing sandwiches around. Next on our trip we we visited deep caves and encountered some amazing wild life, including a few large banana spiders and bats that were resting above our heads.

imageThe shade of a Banyan tree offers students space to reflect on their roots

We cannot wait for the adventures that tomorrow holds—diving, classes, and a tour of the sustainable systems of The Island School, CEI, and CSD. Thanks for reading! This is Silvie and Robert, your caciques, signing off.

Summer Term 2016: Cacique Update #2

Hello everyone! This is Zoe and Aadam, the second round of caciques for the summer term, signing on. As mentioned in the last blog post, our large family was split into two smaller communities: Tigers and Hammers. Conveniently, we are each in separate groups. The Tigers are first spending their time this week learning more about Eleuthera and how to explore, while the hammers are spending their time in the water learning to assemble their kits and start their first dives, safely.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 7.25.12 PMAn advisory checking out “The Loop”

On June 24th the Tiger 2s went on a “learn to explore” trip around the cape of South Eleuthera. We all took our bikes out and rode through the run-down mazes of the abandoned resort. We took a pit stop in a shrubby clearing, after seeing the only live mahogany tree on the island, to write in our place books. While looking around the jungle we listened while Anne, a teacher, read poetry. A rainstorm began and Jane, Alex, Mirelle, Roxy, Tilly, Teja and I(Zoe) played out in the raindrops. After the rain, we headed to the beach and snorkeled. We ate sandwiches and cassava chips (yum) by the ocean. We floated down the current cut (a kind of lazy river) two times and had an amazing time watching the sharks at the marina. The funniest moment was when Trewin, Alex, Roxy, Jane and I made a chain along the current. The current was too strong and pulled some of us past the bridge into the lagoon. After Nathan saved us, we all headed back to our bikes and rode on to the Island School campus. It was an amazing day and I hear all the other students raving about how the days seem so long and full. I love how active and motivated this place makes us feel. The rush and speed of each day is definitely life changing.

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 5.40.22 PMLearning to Explore!

On the 24th of June the Hammers went scuba diving. In the morning we learned how to set up our BCDs and our regulators. Later on, in the afternoon, some of us went on our first dives, while others, who already knew how to dive, helped the beginners. We went to the saddle for our first confined dives. My group got through all five of our confined water dives, so that we would be able to go on our first open water dives the following day. One of my favorite funny moments of the day was when my bike broke before even making it out of the shed. It was nice to see how other students would help each other when their bikes broke down on their way to the saddle by fixing their chains. It was also nice to see how other fellow students would offer to carry other people’s gear because some bikes don’t have baskets. On our exploration time, some students discovered their candy limits at the marina store, while others stayed on campus and listened to music or went to the current cut to watch nurse sharks and other aquatic life.

27384683644_c185f8eec5_zStudents Silvie and Shelton feeling the SCUBA love

We are both very thankful for receiving this opportunity and responsibility. Thank you Shelton and Mireille for choosing us as caciques. Best wishes to the future leaders of the Island School Summer Term 2016. Adam and Zoe, signing off.

Summer Term 2016: Cacique Update #1

Hello everybody! This is Mireille and Shelton. Yesterday we were chosen as the first caciques of the term which is such an honor for us. Hearing the word cacique may first bring up an image of quiche as it did for some of us, but a cacique is actually another word for leader. Many centuries ago, before Columbus arrived in the Americas, there were the Lucayans who migrated from South America. Their communities functioned well under the wings of their cacique, a wise and humble tribe member who put others before themself.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 8.54.50 AMSummer Term 2016 group shot!

We have all arrived safe and happy at the Island School. We can’t begin to tell you the amount of joy and anticipation that was felt when we learned of all the things we would do on the first days. Orientation was filled with amazing adventure: we woke up at 6:30 AM and went snorkeling at a wreck site where we learned of Cat’s (one of our teachers) fondness for donkey dungs AKA Sea Cucumbers. On the second day we got a taste of Bahamian weather with awesome thunderstorms and rain. Following the storm we went to a sand bar where we learned about oodic sand, how it is formed, and how exfoliating it can be. another highlight was defiantly doing dishes while rocking out to great music.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 8.45.10 AMRockin’ out on dishcrew

Now we have split up into two groups, Tigers and Hammers, and we’ll be working on getting our Scuba certification as well as exploring more of the island on South Eleuthera road trips. Tigers, who are doing the South Eleuthera road trip, started their morning with the first run swim, a great experience in which everyone cheered on their buddies. Hammers started their morning today with going to the boat house to get ready for their scuba learning. Everyone is ready to start this week with a bang and we are all so excited to be here.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 8.55.57 AMSummer Term 2016 Teachers

We are Mireille and Shelton, your caciques, signing off.


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!

Chris and Pam visit the African Leadership Academy in South Africa

Ben and Nirina under the  Madagascar Flag
Ben and Nirina under the Madagascar Flag

Last week, Chris and Pam Maxey visited the African Leadership Academy (ALA) in South Africa. They met with founder Chris Bradford and faculty leaders to share ideas for how The Island School can work together with ALA in the future to help define great school leadership. ALA and The Island School are excited to model creative assessments that celebrate mastery and community work that makes a difference.

Narina, Ben and Chris Maxey with the ALA crest
Narina, Ben and Chris Maxey with the ALA crest

Pam and Chris also reunited with Nirina, Summer Term ’15 and Ben who arrives this week to join Summer Term ’16. Nirina is graduating and taking a GAP year to build a commercial scale aquaponics system back in his home country of Madagascar. Ben is motivated to learn more about our waste to energy systems this summer and how he can bring similar ideas to fruition back home in Gabon.

After a great tour of campus, Nirina shared his senior thesis presentation. During the presentation he asked the audience to practice yoga with him in order to explain his journey at ALA in a unique way. He discussed the importance of balance and learning how to lean on one another and how this was especially true at The Island School.

Nirina and Chris lean on one another in a yoga pose
Nirina and Chris lean on one another in a yoga pose

The Island School aims to be a truly global base camp where young leaders can lean on one another, where they can learn to better understand the opportunities and challenges faced by their generation. Our work with ALA is a strong step forward towards achieving this goal.

Simeon Bethel (DCMS ’16) at Sea Youth Rise Up Campaign!

DCMS Students watching the live-stream of the Sea Youth Rise Up call-to-action campaign!
DCMS Students watching the live-stream of the Sea Youth Rise Up call-to-action campaign!

DCMS ninth grader, Simeon Bethel, represented The Bahamas today at the Sea Youth Rise Up campaign. This campaign brought seven youth leaders to New York City and Washington, D.C. to present a call-to-action for ocean conservation. Thousands of students across the world, including DCMS seventh, eighth and ninth graders, watched Simeon and his peers streamed live.

Positive Psychology at Forest Hills Central

This spring, Island School alumna Paityn Wedder (F’15) produced a video project for her high school’s Diversity Week. It focuses on tenants of Positive Psychology, gratitude and its impact on happiness. Watch her classmates’ reactions when she tells them they have had a positive impact on her life.

The project was also covered in an article by a local news source, check it out here! Great work, Paityn.