Tag Archives: Spring 2014

Write An Article for Your Local Paper

Catherine Argyrople (S’14)

One of the best ways for alumni to help us spread the word about The Island School during their transition back home is to write an article on their experience and submit it to their local paper. Not only will it help attract the next round of Island School applicants and students, but it also can act as the perfect avenue for alumni to share their experience with others, without having to retell the same stories and answer the same questions over and over. It can be difficult for alumni to articulate how powerful and transformative their semester-long journey was once they return home. Putting it in writing and sharing it with the local community is a great way to help ease the transition home, while spreading  awareness about the program.

Spring 2014 alumna, Catherine Argyrople did just that. Her recent article on her experience was published her local newspaper in Weston, MA. You can read the article here!

Alumni Spotlight: Will Cembalest (S’14)!

It is a difficult decision to choose to stray from the typical high school path and attend The Island School for a semester. It is especially difficult when you are a top-performing athlete, like Will Cembalest (S’14). Will is a highly competitive squash player and although taking 4 months off of playing the sport may be seen by some as a disadvantage, Will would argue quite the opposite. In fact, he attributed his time at The Island School, and specifically training for the half marathon, to his recent success at a high-level squash tournament last week.

Will Cembalest, S'14 (right) and his coach (left)
Will Cembalest, S’14 (right) and his coach (left)

“I think that taking time off really helped me a lot because it improved my fitness and helped me become mentally tougher,” Cembalest said. “Training for that half marathon is hard work not only physically, but mentally as well. Ultimately, I feel that it’s the biggest reason why I’m playing so well right now.”

Before going to the Island School Will was generally ranked in the top 30-40 in his age group. After using the mental and physical skills he took away from The Island School, Will improved his training and his ability to focus during tough competitions. Will is now ranked #9 in the country for boys under 17–his highest ranking ever. 

Congratulations, Will! We’re rooting for you as you continue to climb to the top of the squash rankings!

Taking the Princeton, NJ Admissions Reception Outdoors!

On Sunday night, nearly 50 interested students and families gathered at the home of Pat Wynne and Lou Valente (Jake S’10 and Cole S’14) in Princeton, New Jersey. Although our conversations were around warm and sunny Eleuthera, we took advantage of a beautiful, brisk, fall night and gathered outside to hear from Chris Maxey and Peter Zdrojewski. Cole Valente and Mackenzie Howe (both from Spring 2014) also shared their own experiences about The Island School.

NJ Reception 2014

We would like to extend a huge thank you to the Valente family who opened their home to The Island School and all our alumni who were able to answer questions for interested families.

Maxey with Princeton-area alumni: Cole Valente (S'14), Mackenzie Howe (S'14), Maxey, Sophie Ochs (F'13), Duncan MacGregor (F'13), Nick Pibl (Su'14)
Maxey with Princeton-area alumni: Cole Valente (S’14), Mackenzie Howe (S’14), Maxey, Sophie Ochs (F’13), Duncan MacGregor (F’13), Nick Pibl (Su’14)

Our next reception will be in Hanover, NH on Monday, October 27th. Please email Taylor Hoffman,taylorhoffman@islandschool.org, if you will be able to make it!

Dr. Seuss Said It Best…

…when he said…

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes you can steer yourself any direction you choose Dr Seuss

The day has arrived.

It is June 12th which always seemed to be more of a reference to our departure that seemed way off in the distance, is now upon us.

As we sit here in our common room in Boys Dorm, with the clock pushing on 3 in the morning, there lies a thin line between reminiscing over memories and bursting into tears. Morning circle is in two hours, followed by loading up the bus and passing through South Eleuthera one last time. We decided as a dorm to stay awake the entire night; yet just like our 12 year old selves found out at sleepovers, it becomes much more difficult than previously expected.

Whether our eyes are red from sleep deprivation or tears—or maybe a combination of both—our time together is slowly diminishing. It’s sinking in that our semester is coming to a close; the final chapter of our Island School book is ending.

At the same time, it seemed like just yesterday we were only starting that book, with the first pages filled with more questions than anything else. 100 days ago we arrived here, not knowing what we were really getting ourselves into.

This journey was not an easy one.

Each day brought challenges that seemed harder to overcome than the day before. Each workout a little bit longer, each class becoming more in-depth and thought provoking.

All 48 of us have changed, and the best part of this whole experience was doing it together.

We lived, ate, learned, and slept near each other 24/7. At first thought this seems like a recipe for disaster, for that much time together would make us all sick of each other. Instead, the friendships that my peers and I have formed are ones that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

I made a blog post on April 10th named “Ferris Bueller said it best” in which I described where we stood in our semester, and how we would make the most out of the last 64 days that we had. Those 64 days went by faster than I could ever imagine, and I know my peers feel the same way.

This Island School experience has completely changed our way of living, and now we have to jump back into our previous worlds.

Wherever that may be, it will be without all the members of this community that made our time so special. I know that we will all remember this place forever, and not just through all the Instagram and Facebook posts from the 26 girls from our semester with the hashtag #takemeback.

The Island School has changed the way I view the world around me, as well as how to be a great friend, researcher, student, mentor, and member of a community.

Although the Island School won’t be on my mind all the time moving forward, I know I’ll have a place to thank for making me a better person.

Congrats to the other 47 students who have also experienced this once in a lifetime journey. I know that we will all go on to have amazing futures, as Island School was only the beginning. It is true that 100 days have past, but there are many many more to come.

As Dr. Seuss so famously wrote, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

by Zach McCloskey

Half Marathon & Super Swim FundRacer!

There’s no doubt that one highlight of an Island School semester is the half-marathon and super swim, which gives students and faculty the chance to push themselves to levels of physical extremity that seemed impossible just three months prior.

Scott, training for the Super Swim
Scott, training for the Super Swim

Our Human Ecology group’s idea was to fundraise for the Cape Eleuthera Foundation, and we decided that we could raise money by giving others a glimpse into the individual stories of 5 athletes training for their big event.

Our group project was aptly named “Fundracer.” A boy and a girl from both the swim and run tracks were selected, as well as a faculty member, who were filmed during exercise and interviewed. Although their experience and athletic abilities vary, it is clear that each athlete has been giving it their all—day in and day out.

Each of the 5 participants are representing a specific branch of the Cape Eleuthera Foundation, which are The Island School, Early Learning Center (ELC), Center for Sustainable Development (CSD), Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI), and the Deep Creek Middle School (DCMS). Whether alum or parent, it is easy to relate and become inspired by the stories of each athlete and the progress that has been made so far.

To donate each cause click here but make sure to specify which cause you’re supporting by leaving the following comment on the Give page: ‘FundRacer: Student/Faculty Name’

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 11.06.47 AM

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 11.12.50 AM

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 11.12.05 AM

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 11.11.31 AM

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 11.09.39 AM

Stay tuned in the near future for an update video before the big events. Your support keeps our community thriving; any donation is much appreciated. Thanks for reading & we hope you enjoy our videos!

Thank you from Baylor, Avery and Zach

Forget the Tank, Remember to Breathe

It’s a quiet 6:10 AM wakeup call in boys dorm.

View from Boys Dorm
View from Boys Dorm

It still looks like night outside, but a few pull themselves out of bed to go free-diving, careful not to wake the others who opt to sleep in. W e gather our masks, snorkels, and fins, and head to the boathouse, where Chris Maxey is already leading breathing exercises.


From there we take two boats out to a place called tunnel rock. One of the faculty, Mike, instructs me on how to drive the boat around the shallow rocks and sandbars that stretch out across the ocean. We get to tunnel rock and tie the boat to a buoy. I look down to see the huge rock formation covered in beautiful coral heads, with a long, partially covered tunnel leading through it that the dive sit is named after. Most of the rock is only ten or fifteen feet deep, and the sandy bottom surrounding it goes down to thirty.


Some dive to look at the corals and fish, others choose to push their boundaries, trying to touch the bottom or see how long they can stay under. As the sun rises over the open ocean, the twenty of us begin our dives.


I am warming up, doing a shallow fifteen foot dive, when I see someone far below me on the sandy bottom, taking off his fins. He proceeds to grab a rock and take a couple steps. He drops the rock and swims to the surface. On my next dive I see a lionfish, and I swim over to it in order to get a better look, keeping my distance, and when I look down I see someone slowly and calmly passing through the tunnel. He reaches the end and ascends calmly.


I find as the dive progresses that I can go further and further down, just by merit of practicing pushing my limits. I can stay down longer and longer, allowing me to stay more relaxed in the water, and to see more. I can’t get down very far, but that boundary is constantly being pushed, and my ability is constantly expanding.

13721282665_096d506aa5_b (1)

It’s like my whole experience at the Island School, really. I suffered on my first dive, barely making it ten feet down, splashing awkwardly, breathing in water, and flailing my arms the whole way, but I was thrilled and addicted. I’m still awkward, I still can’t stay down for very long, but the more that I immerse myself into the idea of getting deeper and deeper, the further I go.


Now , I can get down to forty feet, and I’m practicing for a swim- through of tunnel rock, and it hurts every time. At the Island School, the thing that I have learned every single day, over and over again, is how to push myself, and how to completely invest my body and my mind into what I’m doing. The focus and the struggle inherent in a free-dive is the perfect microcosm of the Island School experience.

by Hugo Wasserman

No Phone, No Problem

Before I came to The Island School, I didn’t know what it would be like to live without a phone or Internet; none of us did. Our generation has grown up with access to both. The Internet was always a part of our lives before coming to IS, never further than the smartphones in our hands. It was bittersweet to surrender our devices immediately after landing in Eleuthera to start our semester.

The first week was surely a change for us all. I constantly felt like I was missing a piece of me. I was always so accustomed to feeling the subtle weight and bulkiness of my phone in my pocket; it felt unorthodox to lose the sensation. As time progressed, we all became more and more acclimated to the lack of Internet. After being here for over a month, the loss of the web and my phone is the last thing on my mind. Instead, it has been refreshing to disconnect from those distractions and live our daily lives like all of our parents did when they grew up. Communicating with friends now means actually finding them and talking to them.

Doing papers means taking notes in class and talking to teachers; Wikipedia is no longer a last second option after a week of procrastination. Checking the weather app is no longer necessary, as our eyes are more accurate in sighting rain clouds off in the distance than any weather radar around. Life went on before the Internet existed, and it will certainly do the same for us here. It may be unrealistic to think we will all avoid the Internet and give up our phones when we return to our lives back home, but at the same time I hope this experience gives us all a new outlook on what really matters in our lives.

by Zach McCloskey

Ferris Bueller Said It Best…

…When he said…

That’s pretty much how we feel right about now.

How do you start a blog post about where we are in the semester? Days can be tallied, sure. It’s been 37 if anyone’s been counting. Those days have been filled with 6:15am wakeups, morning workouts, 3-day kayak trips, scuba diving, and so many other activities that make each one of these days so jam packed and busy.


It’s often said that the days feel like weeks and weeks feel like days. I would be baffled to find a single student or faculty member that didn’t agree. Each week seems to come and go faster than the bacon does at Sunday brunch, which is astounding in itself. We have less than 2 academic weeks left until the heavily anticipated 8-day kayak and down island trips. Rumors surrounding the 48-hour solo on the kayak trip have been floating around since Day 1, and the buzz has only increased as we get closer and closer.

Lighthouse Beach

As we move forward through the term, we have all noticed each day getting hotter and the ocean water getting warmer. The Bahamian winter–which is surely nothing to complain about–is behind us and spring weather is emerged. Looking at the bigger picture, the 3-week kayak and trip rotation will take us to the middle of May. That will soon be followed by parents weekend, which we’ve all looked forward to since the moment our planes left the runway. After research symposiums are presented, the semester starts tapering off and June 12th marks the day of return to our families and friends.

Although dismal to think about leaving this special place we now call home, it makes us cherish each and every second we have left. We all eagerly look forward to what the next 63 days will hold.

by Zach McCloskey

Junkanoo Jamboree

After settlement day we all gathered at my settlement, Tarpum Bay, behind the elementary school before walking over to the festival. We walked along the beach until we arrived at the festival.

Photo by Abby Gordan
Photo by Abby Gordon

The second we arrived everybody had the same idea, food, Food, FOOD! The four stands had long lines within seconds while everyone bought drinks, conch fritters, cupcakes, pigs feet and much more.

Abby, Julia, Abbe and Robin at the Tarpum Bay Homecoming!
Abby, Julia, Abbe and Robin at the Tarpum Bay Cultural Fair!

After most of us were satisfied we began to here the loud rum of Junkanoo music so we turned to see the brightly colored costumes. The elementary school had won a Junkanoo competition and was preforming for the festival.

Junkanoo Rush in Tarpum Bay
Junkanoo Rush in Tarpum Bay
Junkanoo costume!
Junkanoo costume!


Boys and girls dressed in bright costume and danced and played instruments through the streets of Tarpum bay
Boys and girls dressed in bright costume and danced and played instruments through the streets of Tarpum bay

All we could see was the radiant colors and lights moving around in a blur with the kids smiling and dancing their hearts out. After the amazing performance, other people went up and sang songs that we knew!

Everyone was laughing and dancing. One local girl, around the age of nine, decided all the girls needed to dance with a boy so she was setting up pairs left and right. After several of the boys learned how to spin and dip their partners, John S. called us all into a circle, we counted off, and left our second saturday night activity.

A Time to Reflect

As defined in our first Literature reading assignment of the semester, The Rediscovery of North America by Barry Lopez, querencia “refers to a place on the ground where one feels secure, a place from which one’s strength of character is drawn – a place in which we know exactly who we are.” Its importance is such that “our search for querencia is both a response to threat and a desire to find out who we are. And the discovery of querencia hinges on the perfection of a sense of place.”

Photo by Mackenzie Howe
Photo by Mackenzie Howe

The Island School strongly emphasizes the importance of having a sense of place for a specific area and having time to reflect on our personal doings and think about the meaning within the beautiful place we are living for these three months. By this idea we are encouraged to find our own querencia or place where we feel most at home. Island School students got their first exposure to what querencia really means when we chose our personal spots this past Thursday. We were given three hours for our first querencia time to find our spot and reflect upon three writing prompts exemplifying our natural history, personal narrative and descriptive writing.

Photo by Mackenzie Howe
Photo by Mackenzie Howe

Many of us were able to find our querencia spots rather quickly, but I on the other hand, had trouble finding the perfect place that I wanted to be connected to. I tried three spots before finally settling on a place on the white sand of No-Name Harbor where I was able to feel completely alone. I had never explored much of the island before, so when finding my spot, I tried to lose myself in the overgrown back-roads eventually leading me to the beach. After having ample time to decompress and reflect upon the past busy week, I started my journey back to campus which I found to be much more difficult than my bike ride there. I attempted taking a different route thinking that it would get me home quicker but got lost multiple times. Thankfully I eventually found myself at the entrance of campus again. After much thought, I realized the virtue of my spot being so remote; although I was lost in the woods, I could confide in the fact that my querencia spot was far away from anyone else where I could truly reflect by myself and work on my “perfection of a sense of place.”

By, Mackenzie Howe