Island School connections are everywhere! We recently heard from Fall 2005 IS alumna Katie Romanov and Spring 2010 alumna Emma Payne who are working together on an incredible project–to bring a nonverbal boy a voice!
Emma recently began working for VocaliDwhich is a start-up that creates personalized synthetic voices for people who can’t speak, so they don’t have to rely on the same limited set of generic, robotic-sounding voices. It’s very common that kids who rely on communication devices to talk often end up having around 5 other kids in their class using the same exact voice as them– it’s not only confusing, but communicating with such a generic, robotic voice hides a huge part of one’s identity.
Katie emailed the central VocaliD email account, which Emma is in charge of answering, and her story about her student Simon, a nonverbal 5th grade boy from San Francisco immediately made Emma want to do whatever she could to join Katie in helping Simon get his own communication device, communication software, and his own voice. Katie and Emma exchanged many, many emails as they brainstormed how to set up Simon’s Indiegogo Life fundraising campaign, and when Katie connected with VocaliD’s page on Facebook, Emma noticed that they had a mutual friend–The Island School–and they soon we realized that we were both IS alumnae, 5 years apart!
To learn more about Simon and his journey to get a voice, visit Katie’s Indiegogo page and watch this video of Simon in action!
Congratulations to Spring 2009 alumnus Carter Brown on his impressive finish at The Seneca7 Relay Race this past weekend in Geneva, NY. He and his other 6 teammates, team “Fish Out of Water”, were just one team among 223 that entered the relay race. They had hoped to finish in the top 100 but ended up surprising and impressing themselves by finishing in 19th place overall and 8th place in the mixed team category! It took the team almost 10 hours to complete the race. Congratulations, Carter!
Fall 2010 Island School alumna, Hunter Foote, is launching her own media company called Laurel and wanted the opportunity to share her endeavor with The Island School alumni community.
Laurel was born out of a time of tricky transition for its founder, Hunter Foote. As someone who was about to step out of a university setting and into the “real world,” she felt lost about what to do with her life and who to go to for advice. Through Laurel, Hunter sets out to fix this for other young women like her.
Laurel is a multimedia platform. It is online now, soon-to-be in print, and will be social and mobile as well. Additionally, Laurel will have events like an annual Laurel Women’s Conference, dinners, and social gatherings to bring the Laurel community together. Laurel also hopes to provide a network of mentorship. They want a community of readers who are willing to mentor and be mentored. Readers will be able to connect with women in their field, in their stage of life, or with whom they have a kindred spirit at these events and social platforms.
While many women’s lifestyle magazines give great advice for this Friday night, Laurel is in it for the long haul – for the seasonal periods of transition. Laurel will be an outlet for mentorship for this hard time of transition and will provide relevant information to young women.
Laurel will talk about the real stuff that help young women in their 20s live a full life in transition from career advice to how to cook when you step out into the world, where to travel to enjoy this time of freedom, and, most importantly, they feature Real Women–Laurel women who have made it through these times of transition.
If you are interested in learning more about Laurel, visit their website or Kickstarter page! Best of luck to you, Hunter! We can’t wait to hear about the future of Laurel and all of your other successes!
Earlier this week, Chicago Blackhawk players, staff and members of the greater Illinois hockey community gathered together at the 28th Annual High School Scholarship Awards Luncheon to honor the three high school recipients of the Keith Magnuson Blackhawk Alumni Scholarship Award – one of which was Summer Term 2013 Island School alumna, Margot Werner! Margot, a long-time hockey player and Chicago native, shared her acceptance speech at the luncheon on Monday.
Congratulations, Margot! We wish you the best of luck finishing up your senior year at Latin School of Chicago and can’t wait to see what great things you accomplish next!
“Just over three years ago I was rumbling along in a van on my way from Rock Sound to The Island School, clutching my backpack tightly and wondering what I had gotten myself into. I had no idea that the next three and a half months would be the most challenging, rewarding and enlightening time of my life.
I attended The Island School as a student in the fall of my junior year in 2011 and I’m lucky to be back this spring as an intern with the Sea Turtle Research and Conservation team. It’s truly amazing to be back at a place that had such an impact on my education and overall growth as an individual. No matter where I walk on campus I’m flooded with memorable experiences, lessons I learned, and friends I made while at The Island School. The reason my Island School experience was so memorable is the same reason I found myself applying to be an intern for this spring. The unique nature of this place fosters an exceptional learning and professional environment that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the world. Not to mention the ability to learn and experience rich Bahamian culture through the organization’s efforts to connect with the greater community. It was especially cool to arrive on campus and see how the organization has already grown over the past few years to include Hallig House, CSD, and the new intern housing under construction. I’m excited to see what the next several months will bring.” -James Murray
Francis Joyce attended The Island School in Fall 2007 and went on to continue his studies at Bowdoin College, graduating in May 2013. Since then, he has been working in Doug McCauley’s lab at UC Santa Barbara. Part of his work has entailed helping with and co-authoring this paper on marine defaunation, which is animal loss in the world’s oceans. It was published in Science Magazine a few days ago and was also featured in a popular New York Times article. This paper has even stimulated international news regarding concern over significant degradation of the oceans.
It is incredible to see our alumni like Francis making a difference world-wide, beyond the shores of Eleuthera. Congratulations, Francis! We can’t wait to hear about the work you do next!
Krissy Taft, a Spring 2009 Island School alumna, is in her final semester at Middlebury College and has been very focused on senior thesis, which concerns the efficient use of the solar panels located in Middlebury’s own solar panel field. We got in touch with Krissy to hear more about her impressive project and how she is truly being a leader effecting change.
“I am a physics major, and I’ve added my own focus in environmental studies. One of my favorite physics professors has been in charge of getting our field of solar panels working. I’m really interested in renewable energy, so I asked him if I could work with him this fall. One of the biggest issues with solar panels, second to their high cost, is that they are not very efficient at converting solar energy into electricity, so my professor and past students have been working to make our panels as efficient as possible.
Our system has a capacity of 140kW and consists of 34 solar trackers located in a field right behind our science center. Solar trackers can pivot around their posts, as well as adjust the angle of the solar panel. This allows us to point the panels exactly where we want to. On really sunny days, our computer system tells the panels to point directly where the sun is because that alignment allows them convert solar radiation into electricity most efficiently. Past physics theses have focused on this task of alignment on really sunny days. My project is actually looking at how our solar panels perform on cloudy days. When it is cloudy, light from the sun is scattered everywhere instead of coming down in direct rays. Our panels still point to where the sun is on cloudy days, but this might not be the most efficient alignment due to the fact that almost all the light coming from the sun is scattered at different angles.
My goal is to use data we’ve been collecting over the past two years to figure out how we should align our panels on cloudy days so that they operate with the highest efficiency. Hopefully whatever I find can be incorporated into the algorithms that tell our panels what to do every day!”
Congratulations to Krissy on her final semester at Middlebury and best of luck completing your senior thesis!
If you have an alumni spotlight story to share with The Island School, email email@example.com.
About a year ago, The Lawrenceville Island School Club set out to fundraise enough money to purchase a solar suitcase from We Care Solar. We Care Solar is a nonprofit organization that assembles and distributes suitcase-sized portable solar panels to be used as a source of electricity in schools, hospitals, libraries, and other buildings throughout areas of need in Africa. The cost to construct one solar suitcase is $1,000. When you send in the $1,000, We Care Solar mails you the parts included in a kit, you assemble the suitcase, and then send it directly the area of need, as determined by We Care Solar, to be installed. (To learn more, check out this blog post)
The Island School posed a challenge to alumni that if they raised $500 on their own, IS would match the remaining $500 to reach the $1,000 for a suitcase. Spring 2013 alumnus Danny Goldman helped The Lawrenceville Island School Club to raise the $500 through selling milkshakes (in compostable cups, of course) during lunch, as well as some handmade bracelets from Columbia that say “Lawrenceville”. Another alumna highly involved in the We Care Solar project at Lawrenceville was Anna Marsh (S’13).
Danny had the opportunity to go to Kibera, Nairobi to help install the solar suitcase that was assembled by the Island School alumni at Lawrenceville. He shares his amazing experience:
“We left New York on July 27th with six 70 pound bags jammed with Solar Suitcases and tools for their installation.The US State Department had issued warnings about travel to Kenya and in the days immediately prior to our departure the Peace Corp pulled out of Kenya due to terrorism in rural areas and the coastline. Our family debated whether we should go at all, but our commitment for Solar Suitcase placements had been made and people were waiting for the lights. We also knew that we had a great team of partners on the ground that we didn’t want to let down.
Our plan was to install in 3 locations: a community library and 2 schools in the Kibera slum. The Kibera slum is the largest urban slum in Africa with over 1 million residents who lack access to basic services including running water and electricity. An important piece of the project was to work with a local team on the ground, educating them about the We Share Solar Suitcase. Together, we would install the systems and train the end users on operation and maintenance.
As I entered Kibera, I noticed right away that it was basically built on trash with an open sewage system….garbage was everywhere. As I walked along I wondered how over one million people lived without basic sanitation, water and power.
We began by installing the Island School sponsored Solar Suitcase in the Egesa Childrens’ Center, which serves 250 students in 3 very small, dark classrooms that didn’t have electricity. Light from this suitcase will allow students to study later in the day and the community to gather at night for meetings and events. Upon seeing the 5 bright LED bulbs light up his school, Peter, the Principal of the school, said that light from the solar suitcase would open up opportunities for further education at the school.
Our largest installation was at the Shining Hope for Communities Library. We were informed that over 600 people come to this library every month, wanting to read. Without dependable electricity their opportunities are limited. We installed a larger Solar Suitcase unit here, powering 8 LED lights. When the switch was flipped on, the local people actually gasped….and immediately began reading.
At one of the schools I had the opportunity to talk to the students (all girls) about solar and the support of Lawrenceville and The Island School. They listened carefully and shared a bit about their lives and their love for their school. In the end, the girls gave me a big group hug and I hugged them right back.”
Alumnus Scott Voigt was so inspired by the active lifestyle he led during his Spring 2014 semester at The Island School that he signed up to participate in a Half Ironman in Princeton, NJ this weekend. Scott’s desire to stay in shape and continue exercising after he got home from Island School this past summer also convinced his older brother, Jack, to do the Half Ironman as well. What makes this feat even more impressive is that Scott and his brother are also raising money for STOMP the Monster which “provides financial and other support to cancer patients, their families, and caregivers when they need it most – during their fight with the disease.”
Read more about their training routine and inspiration to do the race here.
Fall 2013 alumna Krissy Truesdale had an impressive resume even before she attended The Island School this year, having started her own charity, Solar for Our Superheroes. Since returning home after her semester ended in December, Krissy has been keeping herself very busy and making huge strides with her growing non-profit. We heard from Krissy earlier this week who gave us a complete run-down on the project, from how it all began to where the project stands now:
The thinking began something like this: I felt responsible to do something, anything, about climate change, and began looking at the world with eyes on the prowl for ideas. During this “brainstorming” period, I went on a family vacation to Texas, and when flying home, I noticed each of the cookie cut homes below me extending for miles and miles. In each home I imagined my family; my sister playing XBox downstairs, my mom cooking in the kitchen, me reading a book in my room under the lamplight. I imagined a little puff of CO2 popping up over each home and forming a massive cloud engulfing the neighborhood. Being miles high in the sky, I played God, and pretended to plop solar panels on each home one by one, making the cloud grow smaller and smaller until there was just a gaping, growing hole in the expanse. The image stuck with me and the idea to get solar panels to people was born.
Deciding who to give solar panels to was pretty easy. I have always had profound respect for those who dedicate their lives to serving others. My Grampy was a big factor for this. He was a firefighter, the fire house cook, an electrician, plumber, and father. Saving lives didn’t pay very well, hence the other jobs he took on, but he still found a way and was an example of selflessness I hope to replicate. I also have many other family members in service, and my sister hopes to join a branch of the military when she gets older. Therefore I aimed the project at helping local “superheroes”, specifically veterans, teachers, firefighters, and police officers. The idea was to have neighbors recognize and get to know their heroes, save them some money, and promote renewable energy, which then would have myriad effects like promoting energy independence, cleaner communities, and of course, carbon reduction. Our community leaders could also be leaders in renewable energy. After running the idea by a number of people in the field, it turns out all kinds of people from different backgrounds were respected as leaders. For that reason, the decision was passed on to the communities. The areas that are the most active fundraising and spreading the word are also the neighborhoods who get to decide who to recognize. We still focus on the categories, but are no longer limited to them.
In the past few months, we have made a number of strides. We are officially incorporated in the state of Massachusetts under Honoring Our Mother Earth Inc., and Solar for Our Superheroes is our first project. We are nearly finished with the 501c3 paperwork to become an official charity, and we have had a lawyer helping us for free which as been a huge blessing. We’ve also set the goal at raising $10,000 by the end of the summer, and we are getting there through many means. Recently, by chocolate bar and lemonade stand sales, but we have a larger concert fundraiser in the works for the end of the summer. Our fundraisers are always looking for ways to get people involved and get to know each other, as a big part of what we do is recognizing our neighbors. We have hit roughly $200 of that goal so far so we still have a ways to go for sure, but I just got out of school and will be giving it my all this summer! We have been recruiting volunteers to help with various aspects on nonprofit work and have found a few people very committed to helping over the summer. We also just found help with some marketing and a logo designer. We have coverage with our local Coffee News, and will be having our own newsletter coming out this summer! Everything from the legal to the organizational to the actual raising money is just taking off and really gaining momentum. I look forward to the process! If you want to learn more about Solar For Our Superheroes and our fundraising efforts, visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/solar4heroes.
I also recently gave a TEDx talk at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, MA about starting a nonprofit. It was certainly the highlight of my spring! Public speaking gives me such a thrill! Between being the first to go on stage and being the only female (and teenage) at the event, I was nervous, but it went really well!
The future looks bright and I look forward to experimenting with fundraising and learning the best methods to Solar to our Superheroes. Personally, I look forward to learning, failing a few times, and getting closer to making my favorite corner of the world a cleaner, greener, and more friendly place.
Congratulations Krissy on all of your hard work and accomplishments! We cannot wait to hear of your future successes with Solar for Our Superheroes–and beyond!