Tag Archives: Island School

Summer Term: BANANAS about the swim test

As we headed into the first few days of Summer Term many of us weren’t sure what to expect. However, now that we have spent a bit of time here we have learned to expect the unexpected. Through many sessions of getting to know the island, the people, and what this overall experience will bring we students have started to settle in and become a community. Everyone here at the Island School comes from different places and backgrounds, but we all seem to have common connections and have already begun to build strong relationships with one another.

The first task we students had to complete individually and as a whole was our Swim Test at Triangle Cut right on campus. Not only is the Swim Test required for our Scuba Certification but also it is necessary if we want to explore the campus and the rest of the island. The test begun with Liz yelling “BANANAS!” which is synonymous here with “GO!”. We all hopped in (with a buddy of course) and began the test. Faculty lined the course cheering us on throughout the test keeping our spirits high and our heads above water. While some students finished what seemed like instantaneously others were slow and steady and at the end of the day everyone  passed! No matter where you were in the final lineup when you stepped out of the water you received an enthusiastic congratulations and a high five from each faculty member. Then came the second part of the test. We were to tread water for 10 minutes. Sounds simple enough, right? Little did we know we were to tread water inhabited by jellyfish for 10 minutes. 50 students kicking in water trying to keep our bodies afloat lead to pretty angry jellyfish who happened to be resting on the floor of Triangle Cut. The stings were mild yet constant and we all fought through them for the entirety of the test. Through getting to know one another, singing, dancing even, and most of all trying to get our minds off of the jellyfish we bonded as a whole. Don’t worry, we all made it out alive. Yes, with a few stings, but also closer as a community.

With each passing day our mental and physical limits are challenged, our smiles are brighter, and our hearts fuller. We know already, just in the few days we have been here, that this will be one unforgettable summer leaving us with friends and memories that will last a lifetime.


Your first Caciques,

Maggie and Matthew

Student Update: The Final Week

This morning all 53 students headed off on their way. Congratulations Spring 2015! Here are some reflections from the final week.

Conch Fest

Last night proved the saying “the party don’t start ‘till we walk in.” Arriving at conch fest around 4:35 we were the first ones to occupy the fair ground in Deep Creek. After a day of pouring rain, the grassy area sloshed under our feet. We decided to walk up the street for a little bit of puppy TLC. There is a house behind the local drug store Jemmaks that is home to seven or so puppies who have provided much enjoyment to Island School students over the past couple weeks. By the time we all finished loving on the little bundles of fur, Mooch (the famous) had set up her booth.

The interesting albeit ironic thing about conch fest is that the Island School and CEI profess strongly that conch should be given up in favor of a more sustainable fishery. Because of this, CEI had a booth dedicated to promoting lionfish consumption. Lionfish are highly invasive in this area and are both sustainable and delicious. In addition, one of the Community Outreach projects that was presenting at the festival was Destinee’s trashion show. The show featured Deep Creek Middle School students, Island School students, and faculty alike. I have to say, I was highly impressed by what Destinee was able to create with chip bags and Caprisun pouches. We left the festival early to prepare for the half marathon the next day. What a way to end the semester: trashion, fried food, and exercise.

-Locke Curtis

Human Ecology: Energy Track

I grew up hearing all about grown ups and work and the “real world.” It has all seemed so far off; but it wasn’t until I was sitting in a conference room with four of my peers, blankly looking at this project before us, that I realized “real life” was staring me right in the face. The task was to design a renewable solar energy system for the new Anderson-Cabot graduate hall. This design had to consist of an energy audit, schematic, financial analysis, step-by-step guide to what would be produced and how, all thoroughly explained and justified in the format of a professional written proposal.

Group dynamics were rough; with so much to do and no idea where to start, heads were butting and emotions were running high. It took awhile to get our ideas off the ground. But the reason there was so much frustration was because we were all so passionate about the project and truly wanted to do the best job we could. With 3 5-hour class blocks, we spent a total of at least 18 hours, not even including the hours put in outside of class. I realized that simply sitting down and getting it done would not be a possibility. It was a long two weeks of a lot of mistakes, a lot of compromises, and a lot of disappointment. But thankfully, we ended up with more successes than failures. Deadline day came and we turned in a completed 24-page proposal, followed by a 5-minute pitch to our peers, faculty, and even the family who donated the money for the building. Hard work doesn’t even begin to describe what we did, and accomplished doesn’t even begin to describe how we feel now. It goes to show that we truly are capable of anything we set our minds to- just one example of many showing how The Island School pushes you to be your best, and to explore the endless potential we didn’t know we had.

-Madeline Parker

Plastics Summit

On Thursday night we went to bed, just the 52 students and few teachers that live on campus. After a good night’s sleep, we awoke on Friday to find that there were suddenly over a hundred people in line at the dining hall. This semester, Island School had the honor of hosting a large youth summit on the issue of plastics on the weekend of June 5, or World Environment Day. The guest list included a number of Bahamian schools, members of the United Nations, Celine Cousteau-Jacques Cousteau’s granddaughter, 5 Gyres, Bahamas Plastic Movement, the Bahamian Minister of Education, and a few other organizations and important individuals dedicated to reducing plastic use. Oh, and there was this guy named Jack Johnson, whoever he is. Friday morning started with presentations from the preeminent scientists and researchers in the field of plastics and went on the ceremony where Jack Johnson was officially named a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Environmental Program. He went on to play a few songs…and wow. He sounded exactly like his recordings, and he did it all with a laid-back ease. The next event on Friday was the dedication of the new Anderson-Cabot Grad Hall, where Maxey, Aaron Schultz, and the Bahamian Minister of Education honored the Andersons and Giant, the architect of the actual grad hall. The grad hall will serve as housing for grad students, interns and researchers that come through CEI.

On Saturday, we had our culminating project for research, where we displayed all of our work in a way that would reach audiences from toddlers to scientists. My group presented our poster, but we also had a slideshow with photos and videos and we designed and constructed two games. Research has been incredibly fun, but it was a relief to finally be done with our projects.

Today, Sunday, the Plastics Summit came to an end with a bang. We all biked down to the marina for lunch, and were greeted by a local band called the Rum Runners. After we finished our meal, we got a special treat. Jack Johnson then performed for us, with the help of some of the crew of the Mystic, the ship he sailed in on, the Rum Runners, and even two Island School students (shoutout to Lily and Hal).

This whole weekend was pretty surreal. There were so many impressive individuals, from scientists to politicians to musicians to professional surfers (who just stopped by today to say hi and join Jack Johnson). I hope that this summit and the relationships that we built during this weekend will last on to further semesters.

-Douglas Vetter

Student Update: Time in the Kitchen

Cole, Derece, Ethan and Olivia.
Cole, Derece, Ethan and Olivia.

Last weekend, Peter Z pulled four of my fellow Boys Dorm residents and I aside. After breaking a rule earlier in the semester, we were due for a punishment. At the time this punishment seemed like the end of the world. I was terribly angry at my early-in-the-semester self for having broken a rule. In my mind I had lost 10 hours of my Island School Experience.

But The Island School is full of surprises; it finds a way to make punishment one of the outstanding experiences of the past week. On the Sunday after exploration there was a free afternoon, exploration from 1:15 until 6:00. It was the first of my three days of punishment. I can imagine the frown that must have been on my face as many of my friends rode past me on their bikes off campus.

Our first task was to move dozens of chairs from the dining hall across campus to CSD. After a few sweaty trips, we ran into facilities team member Arlington. Arlington lives in the nearby settlement of Rock Sound, and is recognizable by the tower of dreadlocks that he hides underneath a red, green, and yellow column of cloth and his warm demeanor. Immediately recognizing our struggle, Arlington offered to give us a helping hand. He made time in his day to  bring his flatbed truck around to the dining hall so we wouldn’t have to carry more chairs. This first task became a few truck rides, mixed in with conversations with Arlington about life and morality. For the next three or four hours, we were scheduled to help out the kitchen staff. For me, the first hour of this period was really hard. For all that time, I was hunched over scrubbing mold from a brick corner of the dishes area where faucets fill up dish buckets. As I worked up a bit of a sweat and got my elbows dirty, I had some time to really reflect on what I had done wrong.

After we were done with the dishes area, Mooch (our head chef) surprised us with some leftover corn fritters. We shifted our efforts to helping our beloved kitchen staff members Mooch and Derece to organize the walk in fridge and freezer. While we worked, everybody’s mood improved. Mooch and Derece started acting goofy, then we started acting goofy, then everybody started laughing and joking as we worked.

Although we see Mooch and Derece are around campus a fair amount, I felt like I hadn’t had the chance to really get to know them. During this punishment, I got to see a side of them that I had no idea was there and that I’m so glad I found. When we finished our work it was about 4:00- there was 2 hours to spare. Instead of going back to Boy’s Dorm, us five boys stayed in the kitchen. We lost track of time as we joked and gossiped with Mooch and Derece over leftover cheesecake and mangoes. I can honestly say it was one of the most hilarious hangouts I’ve had in a long time.

As the culprit, it can be tough to take a step back and appreciate disciplinary action. But The Island School managed to make punishment hard enough to provoke healthy reflection about my rule-breaking attitude while at the same time making it a meaningful experience. Losing Exploration Time for me was not the same as wasting time at The Island School, it was a time for me to further explore a part of The Island School that I had not yet grown to appreciate.

-Cole Triedman

Student Update: Marina Cut

Marina Cut, just adjacent to the Marina, was just opened up this week, meaning that Island School students are now permitted to jump off the low bridge and float down current cut (with facility supervision of course).

So, now that the cut is now open, I was so excited to take my turn floating down the lazy river. My advisor, Flora Weeks, was kind enough to supervise a group of girls who all wanted to jump off of the low bike bridge and swim in the current cut. As soon as classes ended at 4:15, I ran up to girls dorm to change into a bathing suit, then I jumped on my bike and peddled towards the marina.

Before hopping in, I decided to make a quick marina store stop and buy an ice cream. After, I walked towards the cut and dangled my feet over the crystal clear water while enjoying the cold ice cream in the heat. After I had watched three or four people jump off, I decided that it was my turn. So, I grab my mask and snorkel. Just before jumping off, looked over my toes which hung over the edge of the bride into the vibrant blue water. The hue of the water was incredible because as a man made cut, it is very deep in the middle but quickly gets shallower on the outskirts.

I counted down from three, held my breath and took one huge leap off the bridge. Submersed in water I opened my eyes, remembering I had a mask on. I left the strong current float me down the cut as I watched the wide array of life swimming past me. To my left, I saw a cluster of mangroves that provided habitat for many small and colorful fish. Looking down, I saw a large ray gently gliding along on the bottom of the floor. So, I decided to hold my breath and dive down to try to get a better view. It was so incredible to see a ray so close; I got so excited under the water that I had to come back up for air. Continuing on my way, a little further down, I saw a huge nurse shark swimming in my direction. At first, my heart jumped a beat at the sight of such a large shark, but I quickly remember that nurse sharks pose no real threats to humans. So, the shark and I swam along side each other for what seemed like hours. But suddenly, the nurse shark darted out in front of me and then turned around to face me. He started to rise up to my level in the water and as he swam closer, I realized I should probably get out of its way. So, I dove down and let the shark swim over me. After, as I looked back it its dorsal fin swimming away, I was in complete awe. Hopping out of the water and walking back to the bridge to do it again, I was so completely amazed at what just happened.

-Hanna Pierce


Staff Spotlight: Peter Zdrojewski


Name: Peter Zdrojewski

Where are you from?: The Paris of the Midwest, also known as Cleveland, Ohio

Where were you before this?: Teaching marine ecology to high school students in Belize

What brought you to The Island School? One of my students (who is now working here as an EP educator) in Belize told me about this place; she did a week-long EP program – from Branson in California

What is your favorite dining hall meal?: Chicken curry w/ coleslaw

Name one thing that not many people know about you: I hate ketchup

What is your favorite word?: croissant

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?: Knuckleball pitcher in the majors

What are your top three movies of all time? Field of Dreams; Bull Durham; The Natural

What songs and/or bands have you been listening to lately?: Billy Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald

Student Update: Swim Throughs

Ben, with a turtle in the background.
Ben freediving, with a turtle in the background.

This past Wednesday in the early morn I found somewhat of a nirvana. I was out free diving at tunnel rock with twenty or so of my classmates, a few interns, some scientists, and the fish man himself Chris Maxey. For those of you who have never been to tunnel rock it is a huge coral head about a hundred yards off the coast. And its name comes from the huge L shaped swim through that runs through the entirety of the reef. It is an amazing experience fighting your mind against time so you can stay underwater for another twenty seconds. I personally find it exhilarating.

This particular dive however was almost life altering. I decided I was going to go through the swim through for the first time. So I dove down, everyone was watching and I went down and down until I reached the opening and found my way through it.  I reached the other side and was reemerged into the expansive ocean all around me. When my eyes adjusted to the light I could not believe my eyes there was a over a hundred year old ginormous loggerhead turtle waiting for me at the mouth of the tunnel as if it had chosen me for some greater purpose. I was already under water for about a minute but the second I laid eyes on my new friend oxygen was no longer a necessity. It swam all the way up to me and almost smiled. Something inside me changed inside at that moment I think I realized how much of an impact this world can have on you and amazing it really is; you just have to try.

-Ben Skinner

Student Update: Night Dives

Exactly how it sounds, one of the sickest thing that has been done all semester. Meet at the boathouse at 7:30 and get on the boat. I was really excited and have been looking forward to this dive for a long time. When the sun was going down and we were on the water the adrenaline was kicking in. I buddied up with Whit for this dive and I could tell that he was real excited as well. As we sat on the boat anchored up over tunnel rock we waited for it to get real dark. Then we jumped in. When we started to descend there were jacks attracted to the light and would come inches away from running into us. When we got down there it was like nothing else, wherever I shined the light that’s all I could see, the rest was just pure darkness. We made our way down to the bottom and I saw this huge figure underneath some rock so I went a bit closer to take a closer look, it was a 5-6ft turtle sleeping underneath this coral. I immediately swam after Nick tapped him and did the awkward turtle and pointed to it and his eyes lit up along with everybody else who could actually see it. After looking at this turtle for 10 minutes we went out off the coral a bit. We shut off the all the lights and Nick took a handful of sand and threw it up but all I could see in this pitch black area was a bunch of these little green lights, it was something I had seen in movies and films on TV but I had never thought I would get the experience of actually seeing it with my own eyes and it was beautiful. I sat there throwing sand up in amazement looking at these bioluminescents. After this we went up for our safety stop and went up to the surface.

Once everybody surfaced everybody started freaking out cause they were so stoked off what they just experienced. Everybody was telling everybody what they had just seen. We got on the boat and got everybody else up and got ready to go back to campus. I sat there with my buds looking at the starts and looking at the bioluminescents lighting up the white water on the side of the boat. It was like something out of a movie and that is what The Island School is all about, experiences like those.

-JJ L’Archevesque

IS and CEI Hosting 2015 Youth Action Island Summit June 5-7

The Island School and Cape Eleuthera Institute, in partnership with 5Gyres, musician Jack Johnson and All At Once, are excited to host the Youth Action Island Summit on our Cape Eleuthera campus this June 5-7, 2015. We have invited Bahamian students from Eleuthera and neighboring islands to explore and generate solutions to plastic pollution for island nations around the world alongside activists, artists, scientists and educators.


Like many island nations, the once pristine blue-water beaches of The Bahamas have been overrun by plastic pollution. Found on the border of the North Atlantic gyres, The Bahamas are not just forced to deal with their own plastic waste, they also serve as a collection site for the worldwide plastic waste that has been carelessly washed away to sea. We aim to provide the students with tools that will empower them to find and give life to solutions for their islands and islands around the world.

To learn more about the weekend, visit our website here.


Name: Olivia Gell

Where are you from? New York

Where were you before this? I was studying at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

What brought you to The Island School? A passion for Literature and belief in the impact of experiential education. When I learned about this school I had an immediate desire to become a part of this community composed of individuals with a hunger to both inspire and be inspired by others, as well as grow, be adventurous and expand creativity.

What is your favorite dining hall meal? Soup!

Name one thing that not many people know about you: One of my biggest pet peeves is bad hugs

What is your favorite word? It is a Spanish word- we still need one to capture this moment in English: “Sobremesa”- That moment once a delicious meal shared by wonderful company is finished but the conversation is still flowing endlessly.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Editing is a somewhat similar field, but also Psychology.

What are your top three movies of all time? Caddy Shack, Good Will Hunting & The Kids Are Alright

What songs and/or bands have you been listening to lately? Nujabes, Miles Bonny, Susan Tedeschi, Maxwell– all over the spectrum, I know.

Student Update: Swim Track

This coming Sunday and Monday, students will put their training to the test and take on the half marathon and super swim. Student Ella Fishman took a moment to reflect on her upcoming swim:

Students dive into the water.
Students dive into the water.

Before coming to the Island School, I was a terrible swimmer. I didn’t really know how to do any strokes, and I was pretty sure I would drown in the super swim. Despite this, I chose to go with swim track. I knew I probably wouldn’t get another opportunity to work out in the ocean every morning, and also I wouldn’t get hot and sweaty in the water. After learning how to do freestyle, and the correct way to breathe, I began to enjoy swimming. The day when the current pushed against me so that I wasn’t moving at all was hard—but swimming back being carried by the current was great. Running to Triangle Cut is still challenging, but getting in the water and swimming a lap and realizing you had a shorter time than the last time makes up for it. So there are ups and downs. I’m still not a very good swimmer. But I’m actually kind of looking forward to the 4 mile swim—and I’m confident that I won’t drown now!

-Ella Fishman

Beth, Ellie and Lily are all smiles after a recent run swim.
Beth, Ellie and Lily are all smiles after a recent run swim.