Tag Archives: Student Update

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

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.

Student Update: The Saddle

The Saddle, a snorkeling spot near campus, is a popular destination for exploration time. Here’s a report from student Crawford Patton about his recent visits.

Crawford takes a photo of himself at The Saddle.
Crawford takes a photo of himself at The Saddle.

This week I was trying to stay focused on getting in the water every day during exploration for the hopes I might see something really cool. I figured if I spent enough time in one place I was bound to see something awesome. So I went to the saddle every day for about an hour. I was doing my normal round and just happened to look over my back shoulder and saw a large nurse shark cruising right next to me. I was ecstatic, but it was almost as if he could sense my energy and took off, but not before I could get a picture with him.

-Crawford Patton

Student Update: The Barge

Students relaxing on the Cobia on the way out to The Barge.
Students relaxing on the Cobia on the way out to The Barge.

Last Sunday, for the first time since scuba rotations, K3 and K4 went on a fun dive! We took the Cobia out to a site called the barge. Half of the group sat on the roof, with the sun warming us almost to sleep. When we finally arrived at our dive site, called the Barge, we went through our buddy checks, and then my group took the plunge. With the Cobia rearing up and down next to us, we slowly kicked our way to the mooring line, gave a thumbs-down/descend symbol to our buddies, and sank beneath the waves. The first sight of the barge was awe-inspiring. It looked like someone had just dropped a giant grey rectangle in the middle of the ocean and left it there for the reef to claim. Throughout the entire dive, though, the coolest thing that I saw wasn’t on the boat, but under it. When Peter gestured to the crevice under the barge, I initially had no idea what he was pointing at. But as my eyes slowly adjusted, the shape of a triangle head sporting an open mouth filled with jagged teeth came into focus. The eel stayed in the shadows, but I couldn’t help slowly drifting away from it.

The descent to The Barge.
The descent to The Barge.

I spent the rest of the dive peering into portholes that led only to blackness, looking at lionfish discretely blending into the surrounding coral, and watching the countless colorful fish always surrounding these reefs darting in and around each other. When we finally ascended into the rough water above, I didn’t want to leave. But with much calmer weather on the ride back, it felt so good to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

-Maddie Nystrom

Student Update: Spontaneous Moments

Snorkeling in the deep blue.
Snorkeling in the deep blue.

Every Island School student looks forward to 4:15 during the school week. Until 6 you are free to do whatever you want. The typical Exploration Time during the school week is a quick stop at the Marina store to get whatever you have been craving during the day and then off to Sunset Beach. This past Exploration Time, as me and two of my friends were getting ready to go the Marina Store and Sunset; we were stopped by Peter and asked if we wanted to go out on the Mary Alice and snorkel. In that quick moment, we jumped to the offer and ran back up to girl’s dorm to get our snorkel gear and GoPros. We then ran to the faculty office to sign out and then quickly ran and jumped on the boat. Once we were all set and ready on the boat us three along with three other kids and three teachers took the Mary Alice out into the open ocean. After going fast for a little bit, we came to our location: the cage. We all jumped into the flat blue ocean and looked below us where an abandoned cage sat. Some people spotted an unidentifiable shark sitting on the bottom, but I was unable to see it. After spending some time free diving and looking from the surface at the cage, we all got back on the boat and drove out a little bit more. Once we were stopped again we all kept jumping off the boat. Once we had enough of jumping and spending time in the water, we drove back. This was by far one of the most fun explorations I have had this semester and I wouldn’t have gone if Peter didn’t stop us while we were on our way out to the Marina store.

-Sophie Moore


Of all the experiences I have been fortunate enough to have here, free-diving has definitely been one of the most satisfactory so far. It has been an area where I have achieved vast improvement since my start, as well as let me see so much more of the Bahamian waters and marine wildlife.

Every Wednesday and Sunday morning, if possible, I get up early to go free-diving instead of sleeping. On Wednesday that means waking up at six twenty rather than seven fifty. If it was not worth it, I would never forsake that much sleep, but it is. One of the benefits of free-diving is that many animals, such as sharks, do not like the noise that SCUBA equipment makes underwater. But in free-diving, you have no equipment, so some animals might not be as repelled as they would have if you were SCUBA diving. Whether because of this, or just out of sheer luck, I have been able to see as well swim with many amazing underwater creatures. Some of the more extraordinary examples include: a ten-foot Hammerhead Shark, an eight-foot wide Spotted Eagle Ray, a Hawksbill Sea Turtle, a Reef Shark, and much more. These amazing creatures have sparked a love of not just free-diving, but also marine life and the ocean that was not nearly as strong as before coming to the Island School.

Secondly, since my beginning of free-diving, I have been able to quickly notice my improvement. When I started, we were going out to Tunnel Rock Reef, where the water was about 35 feet deep. The first time I couldn’t even get to the bottom, then the next time I reached the bottom. After that I reached the bottom many times and was able to “chill” at the bottom for a time. Finally, after that I was able to do a swim through. While we were going to Tunnel Rock, we also went to Cathedral Reef every now and then. Cathedral is about 55 feet deep, much deeper and harder than Tunnel Rock, with an extremely long swim through. After working at it for a while, I can now reach the bottom and wait at Cathedral as well as Tunnel Rock. This large increase in my free-diving abilities has come through help of the instructors as well as pushing my limits. It feels great to be able to see yourself grow, and this theme is present in many parts of the Island School, but for me it is greatest in Free-Diving.

I am extremely grateful to have this experience, and it has been made even better with all of the work and fun of Free-Diving.

Nick Brittain


Last Sunday I had the opportunity to showcase my talents along with Island School kids and individuals from Deep Creek community. My friends Triston, Gus, Jeremy, Ian, Khalil and I traveled to Deep Creek along with Pat as our overseer. After arriving we shot around the court for a little while then played a warm in game to twenty-one before we picked teams ans played 4-4 basketball. In the first game the team was Pat, Ian, Michael and I against Gus, Triston, Khalil, and Jeremy. My team and I started the game out playing good basketball and we developed a good chemistry moving forward. We jumped out ahead with a big lead and then starting playing lazy which resulting in the opposing team gaining some points. However, we closed them out pretty easy once we decided play time was over.

The sun smiled its rays down on us as sweat gently dripped from our exhausted bodies. The next team to step on the court was a challenge, but I love challenges because they give you and opportunity to become better and make others better in the process. We were up against Darrel, Rachael, Cammy, and Brendan. “Screech, screech” was the sound our exotic shoes made sliding across the rouch cemented court. The game began with Darrel’s team jumping out ahead taking advantage of mismatches and leaks that they saw in our team. It was to my surprise that Rachael could play so well, she completely took advantage of my comrade Ian as Darrel bullied Michael in the post. It was time for me to stop taking a back seat, I demanding the ball and went to work scoring multiple baskets in a row. An intense game went on and no team would break first with the scored being tied 20-20 in the long run. It was our ball and the moment was bright what will I do, pass to my partners or take it the hoop and do what I do best score? I crossed over Brendan and drove to the rim as a diversion knowing in my mind that Darrel would switch over to help because he had a point to prove that he was this superstar player and wanted to advertise it to the world. Knowing that I could still try and make the shot I gave it it to an open teamate for the shot in which they missed resulting in the opposing team grabbing the rebound and claiming possession of the ball. I played defence to the best of my ability and in the corner of my eye I could see Darrel posting up Michael and asking for the ball while he was in the post up position. The thought in the back of my head flickered that Darrel would score if he got the ball and if I left Rachel to help on defence she would automatically receive the ball and it was a high percentage she would hit the shot. Therefore, I decided to stay on my opponent desperately hoping Michael would protect our basket in which he was unsuccessful in doing and resulting in our defeat. We lost that game 20-22 and yeah it was heartbreaking but I am a great competitor and use experiences to make me a better person and basketball player in life. I shook hands with everyone and exclaimed good game for I knew I would have a next opportunity in the near future to showcase my talents and this time I’ll lead my team to victory.

Danaldo Pinder

Student Update: Turtle Research

Research classes are in full gear as students put together the results sections of their projects and start to assemble their final posters. Here’s what student Lane Kearney had to say about her Turtle project.

One by one we toss our fins and snorkels onto the Scute, a small, single engine motorboat. We all pile in and position ourselves so all 8 of our eyes are on the water. The search now begins. Green turtles are hard to spot in this creek. Underneath the still aqua water, sits an array of coral blocks. While the boat is moving, it is easy to mistake these stationary objects as sea turtles. We all keep our eyes transfixed on the oceans surface until one of us shouts, “Turtle!!” This is when the excitement begins. I double check to make sure my fins are securely on my feet. I grab my mask, and speedily put it on my face. I fling my legs over the side of the tiny boat, and wait for Annabelle’s voice. “Go!!” I use my hands to propel myself into the warm waters. As soon as I hit, my arms and legs start moving as fast as I can. There is one thing on my mind, “catch the turtle.” My arms pierce through the water as I power myself towards the turtle. The turtle is using all its might to get as far away from me as it can; I won’t give up.

He finally dips down into the water and then starts to make his way to the surface for a breath, this is my chance. I reach my arms out, and grab under his front flippers, the turtle’s strongest joint. I have him in my hands. He fusses and moves his flippers around in all directions. As he is squirming frantically in my hands, the Scute makes its way through the water to help me. Annabelle relieves me from the stressful moment by grabbing the green sea turtle out of my hands. We place him on the boat, and transfer him to the lap of another member of the research group. We ensure the turtle’s comfort by placing him gently on an orange life jacket, keeping steady hands on the front flippers. We take the measurements that we need to gather for our study. It is then time to put the little guy back where he belongs: the clear sparkling water. We all watch as he is slipped back into his environment. He happily paddles away. Another successful day in the life of the Juvenile Green Sea Turtle research group.

-Lane Kearney

A student holds a turtle in preparation of data collection.

Student Update: Deep Clean and Kayak

The first kayak group finishes their 8-day today. As we prepare for their return to campus, student Jessa VanderWeide took a moment to reflect on the moment she learned which kayak group she was in.

At about 5:00pm on Thursday afternoon on the Island School campus, the girls’ dorm was in the midst of our 2nd deep clean. As clothes were being thrown across the room, and brooms were gliding across the floor, a high pitch scream came from Girls Dorm North. Although you may think this is bizarre, it’s truly not: just your average day. Music was blaring from the common room as we continued to clean and clean and clean (oh, and clean). Our usual song was playing-Stolen Dance by Milky Chance- as we continued to prance around, removing all existence of dirt, sand, and hair that builds up as the weeks go by. Quite possibly, this deep clean was needed.

All of the sudden the whole dorm erupted in a loud scream. Girls were running around like maniacs- also not unusual. But something was different this time. A second later a loud voice echoed through our humble abode: “KAYAK GROUPS ARE UP!” This was a moment we all had waited for. Several girls threw their mops down and sprinted out the door, only to be brought back a minute later by the news that we had to finish our deep clean BEFORE we saw the groups. At this news, we completely changed into beast mode. The floor was being swept in half the time, and mops were flying around the dorm like they were magic- and everyone was lending a hand. The fact that we would soon find out our kayak groups excited us so much that we then worked as a well-oiled machine to finish the remainder of the deep clean. Teamwork like never before. As the last beds were made and towels hung, we all sprinted out the doors, down the stairs, and to the dining hall. Once again, screams were heard, and excitement was more than present for the kayak trips and next 50 days of this Island School adventure.

-Jessa VanderWeide

Students Jessa, Maddie, Noelle, Lucy and Maya clean their dorm.
Students Jessa, Maddie, Noelle, Lucy and Maya clean the south side of the dorm.

Student Update: Exploration

Several days a week, students have time dedicated in their schedule to “exploration” of the local area. Here are two takes on the value of that time.

A popular destination for exploration time is the coast near High Rock.
A popular destination for exploration time is the coast near High Rock.

The Island School is situated beside an area that was formerly a resort. The resort opened in 1972 and included cottages, a clubhouse, water towers, and a golf course. Sadly, the resort went bankrupt in 1984 and no longer exists, however the structures still do. Once you brave the 4:15 pm sign-out line in the faculty office, and push your way through the mob trying to get helmets, you are home free on your way to exploration. The classic exploration routine is to hop on your bike, get to the Marina Store as fast as possible, buy indulgence food, then head to sunset beach. While we all need that once in a while, exploration time is named such for a reason. My most memorable exploration times have consisted of exploring the abandoned area. Whether it be walking through the concrete ruins of the former resort, or sitting in the hammock at No Name beach looking for sharks, exploration time never disappoints. One of the best exploration times that I have had was a couple Sunday’s ago. A group of about 14 of my friends and I spent the day exploring the inner loop, snorkeling, and devoting time to new places. The day consisted of trying to get lost in the inner loop, exploring high rock, getting a communal snack, and then heading to sunset beach to play beach volleyball, swim, and lay in the sun. That is a typical exploration time for Island School students, a ‘tingum’ we will remember for the rest of our lives.

-Olivia Rask

A group of girls hang out at Sunset Beach during exploration. Back row: Sophie, Ali, Maya, Lane, Noelle, Olivia, Nelle. Front row: Madeline, Hanna
A group of girls hang out at Sunset Beach during exploration. Back row: Sophie, Ali, Maya, Lane, Noelle, Olivia, Nelle. Front row: Madeline, Hanna

Here at the Island School, we’re lucky enough to be the recipients of unfettered freedom. There aren’t many other places where, three times a week (or less if we have yet another deep clean), the adults responsible for your wellbeing tell you, “Have fun exploring the wilderness!” That allowance of our own time—truly doing what ever we want to do—is incredibly freeing. However, at the Island School, that freedom can sometime flicker and disappear like a mirage. Most of the time we are working hard, nose to the grindstone, with everyone stressing out about the workload that is put upon the student body. In our three study hours, there is always just enough time to finish everything to you to get done, but it’s always a constant struggle to get to that next paper or homework reading. Even though it’s hard, I think that our curriculum here is one of the most interesting things I’ve ever been a part of. Our full understanding of the place we live in is refreshing. Despite the fact that we are pressed into this hard schedule, and that’s why it feels so good to get time to unwind and explore.

-Hal Triedman