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!
As Summer Term is drawing to a close, here is a recap of a few activities that have been going on this past week! We are excited to have Summer Term families join us for Parents Weekend starting tomorrow!
Shortly after we met Chris Maxey for the first time earlier this week, he took us out on his boat to chase a sunset. The 26 of us (because a third of the community was on their Down Island Trip) all giddily climbed aboard and quickly got situated. Although we have been living here for the past month, many of us have actually not had a chance to fully experience a true Bahamian sunset. It was absolutely wonderful. The deep blue ocean went on forever. When you looked up at the sky, there were no limits. The sun just hung there in all its glory. There is no better feeling in the entire world than sitting on a boat with 25 people who you have only known for a short amount of time, but they are all your best friends.
As the sun went down, everything stopped. We all took in the moment differently, but I think we were all feeling same way. One girl started to cry and although no one else was, we all understood. She told me that because she lives in Houston, TX she never has the time to stop and look at her surroundings. But here, at The Island School, we have that time time and look at our surroundings and take it all in. Each day we see the ocean glistening in an endless manner, but it still always is able to captivate each and everyone of us.
The morning after our boat ride, during our preparation for the Monster Run Swim, a friend of mine and I were running the last section and we were about to turn into campus. We started talking about all the amazing experiences that we have had here. We started talking about the sunset and she turned to me and said “I now know what heaven is.”
After the amazing boat ride with almost all of the community, we all came together as the students and faculty on Down Island came back for the ultimate friendly competition yesterday: a World Cup soccer tournament! Things got intense…
The soccer matches involved all of the members of the Island School community, including some interns from CEI. Advisories played other advisories and things got competitive and heated! All of the students (and faculty!) got really into the games, as they cheered on their teams from the sidelines and on the field. Feet were moving fast up and down the field at the Marina as the soccer ball flew by faces, hit heads, and soared into the goals.
The final game was Scotty advisory vs. Rachel’s advisory. In the end, after Scotty’s team threw a good fight, Rachel’s team came out victorious with a score of 2-0. Everyone enjoyed the final game with excitement and the teams enjoyed a great afternoon with the whole community!
To be intimate with the land, to have a sense of place, is to enclose it in the same moral universe we occupy, to include it in the meaning of the word community. In Marine Ecology class, summer students do just that, but underwater! Through detailed observation and inquiry, students foster a deeper understanding of how tropical marine ecosystems are arranged into a self-organized and complex hierarchy of patterns and processes. What follows is an example of a student’s field note written underwater, demonstrating a balance between ecological truths and the beauty of natural history writing.
Standing in proud and weathered sentry, a giant sea fan coral demands the attention of every eye that alights on Dive Site 3. In a scan of the primary producer residents of the rock, it would be an insult to the size and prominenceof the sea fan not to take note of it before any other coral. More than a foot in height, the sea fan flaunts a hand-like display of five this blue veins. From these veins, innumerable smaller veins branch and criss-cross like winding tributanes, creeping upwards and outwards the way frost slowly encrusts a window.
But upon a closer look, the net-like continuity of the sea fan’s face is broken by a conspicuous interloper: a flamingo tongue, hugging the sea fan’s fourth finger with a kind of suctioned urgency. Pearly and smooth with rows of small brown dots, the flamingo tongue appears at first to be a decorative bead to complement the sea fan’s splendor. However, a glimpse of the blackened, dead trail shaking behind the flamingo tongue alludes to a slightly more sinister purpose. An immediate question comes to mind concerning the nature of the relationship between the sea fan and its trespasser: Is the flamingo tongue’s presence one or parasitism, in which is eats away the polyps of its host for no beneficial exchange? Or does the sea fan glean some hidden benefit as thanks for sustaining its bead-like guest?
The search for additional relationships between coral and other organisms brought me to a second sea fan. This one, a wide-mesh sea fan, lounged off the side of the rock like a pine branch laden with thick needles. Here, too, a flamingo tongue took up residence, interrupting the fuzz of 8 fingered polyps that distinguished this sea fan as an ahermatypic coral.
Next, my attention was drawn to a large, stoic-looking coral, which thrust up from the rock like a cactus. Strong and brittle, this coral twined like an intricate sculpture shaped from driftwood bleached on a beach shore. An absence of polyps made me suspect it to be a hard coral, which usually retracts polyps until night has fallen. A search through a coral field book revealed that this piece of drift wood art may have been a staghorn coral, part of the branching and pillar group.
In visual dialogue with the elegance of the staghorn, several sea plums lent their careless delicacy to the rock face. Drooping like weeping willow trees, the sea plums did not deign to display their polyps even to an inch-close examination. This absence made me wonder if the sea plume is a hermatypic coral, with polyps retracted during the day, or whether the polyps are simply too small or too inconspicuous for viewing.
Other corals, however, were not as shy about displaying their polyps. One particular sea-whip coral, straight and gray-stemmed, hosted a blossoming of white polyps that perfectly resembled dandelion seeds. The polyps dotted the sea-whip so abundantly that it look as though one could pluck the coral, blow on it, and scatter the seeds to make a wish come true.
A careful tour around the face of the rock revealed a continue plethora of biodiversity. Spiraling elegantly, a rose coral appeared a bizarre juxtaposition of the most delicate flower and the specimen of some neurology medical lab. The tenuous folds of a brain coral resembled a labyrinth maze. Plump spheres of great star coral beaded the rock’s surface, and elliptical coral carpeted many areas in a patch work of pink polyps. Clusters of cup corals rose like white popcorn, lush flowers in a landscape of green.
During the fifth day of each academic rotation for Human Ecology: Food Systems, students get the opportunity to participate in one of three CEI research projects: turtles, sharks, and bonefish. Here is an excerpt from our day on the field working with the turtle team on Friday!
It was a gloomy Friday morning in terms of weather, but The Island school kids were ready to go. Smiles, music, and gossip about turtle names drifts through the van on our way to Half Sound, an embayment 45 minutes north of school. Tagging turtles for research is not for the faint-hearted, and the Island School team showed up ready to get some catches. After a long ride to the creek we finally arrived, ready and waiting for the first turtle to cross our path. After a small talk about the movement of the tides and how it affects the destination of the turtles in the creek system, we quickly set up the net for the first capture. Turtle-ing requires patience and interaction with your peers. As we quietly form a line yards away, we face the net and walk back kicking and splashing as loud as we can. This may sound easy, but after a few hours and a mini lunch break in the water, we found ourselves worried that the turtles had outsmarted us. With our doubts we set up our net with a different technique. Instead of keeping the net in one location, making it easier for the turtle to escape, we moved the net around the people herding, hoping to get the turtle in the circle. After turtles made it out of the circle by jumping over the net and moving under the net, we made our first catch!
After the catch, we quickly proceeded to take care of business. Turtles are able to live outside of water, but we always wanted to make sure the turtle is not stressed through the process. We went on to tagging where we insert a tag on each of the turtle’s front fins so that if he or she was to show up in a new location and somebody found them, they would know who to contact and get an idea of growth rate. We also recorded the species, width, weight, and length of the turtle. The process was not lengthy and the turtle swam off unharmed and quickly. Although this green sea turtle was our only catch of the day, The Island School crew and the help of a few researchers from CEI put in the effort, making this a successful quest for turtles!
After a week exploring South Eleuthera above and below the water, the students are already taking on the academic portion of Summer Term! Again, the students are quite busy, so Summer Term faculty have filled in for this blog post! We, as faculty, are consistently asking them, “How can we live well in a place?” Exploring this question, students will rotate through week long intensives focusing on three different themes: Marine Ecology, Food Systems, and Tourism & Development.
Marine Ecology: In Marine Ecology, the classroom is not a room full of chairs or desks. Instead, the classroom is a small portion of a larger coral head, buzzing with fish of all sizes and coral of all kinds. As students learn about various components of the marine ecosystem, they have the opportunity to explore what they learn in class underwater by taking the time to observe a single section of a reef. Students return to the same spot every class, each day more aware of the complex interactions that make a functional ecosystem. Students also dive into the world of Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson and participate in discussions about ethics and conservation.
Food Systems: Understanding where our food comes from, how it gets to our table, and where our waste going after we are through are all essential in gaining a sense of place and grasping our term’s theme: living well in that place. During the Food Systems unit, students will visit farms (both on and off Island School’s campus) to learn about the challenges and techniques to growing food on Eleuthera. In addition, students will understand both our environmental and social impacts that accompany our production of waste products. After two and a half days of in and out of classroom learning about food systems and human ecology, students will take part in intensives that highlight important sustainable food systems here on the Cape. Students will break up into two groups, focusing on either the Aquaponics system at CEI or the Farm on Island School’s campus to further understand how to live well in a place with regards to the food we eat and the waste we produce.
Tourism & Development (Down Island Trip): Students explore the island of Eleuthera on a four day camping road trip. While visiting new settlements, such Governor’s Harbour, Harbour Island and Spanish Wells, student conduct interviews with local Bahamians. On the Down Island Trip, students also visit some of the natural attractions like ocean holes to swim in, or caves to climb through. Throughout the week, students conduct a variety of readings and have discussions about how tourism has shaped the development of Eleuthera. As they see the effects of failed tourism on the island, they began to discuss alternative forms of tourism and how it can be done so in a sustainable way for the island of Eleuthera. The class opens student’s eyes to how we can travel and understand a place we are visiting, as well as getting a chance to see all 100 miles of Eleuthera!
Our first Down Island Trip comes back to campus today and we are looking forward to having our whole community together this afternoon! Stay tuned for more updates from Summer Term 2013!
Greetings from the Island School’s 2013 Summer Term! This weekend, students enjoyed an evening off to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the independence of the Bahamas. We piled into the bus with high anticipation of enjoying some traditional Bahamian food and dance. The warm hour and half long ride to Governor’s Harbour ended with a cool breeze and the sweet smell of celebration. Almost immediately it seemed that the overwhelming smells of conch fritters and coconut drinks drew everyone into a line behind Shauna’s food stand. After chowing down on the food, the cool grooves of rake and scrape music coaxed us into the dancing field. Many of us took a break from twisting and shouting to cool off along the ocean side. Some of us couldn’t help but admire the locally made jewelry and baskets. Only the strong winds and rain could stop our moving feet. A small storm blew in, forcing us to pile back into the bus with our conch salads and high spirits. The drive back quickly lulled us to sleep under the beautiful South Eleutheran stars. It was a truly memorable night. Happy Birthday, Bahamas!
Thanks to Savannah and Chase for this Student Update! In addition to celebrating Independence day today, we are also preparing the campus for the wind and rain expected to arrive later this week. Students helped out on Island School’s campus and at CEI by assisting in storm prep! Everyone is ready to face the wind and rain head on!
The kayak trip was a great experience for all Island School students. We learned the basic kayak skills, such as what to do in a situation when the kayak tips over. The current was both with and against us at different points during the trip. We traveled from campus to Triangle Cut then through the Marina to Sunset Beach. At Sunset Beach, we began a lesson about the moon phases and how the position of the moon affects the tides. We enjoyed a short snorkel and swim at the beach. For lunch, we ate awesome PB&J tortilla wraps with great GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts) on the side.
After lunch, we got back in our kayaks and made our way to No Name Harbor, where we explored the mangroves while fighting the current which tried to push us to shore! The wind began pushing us back to campus as we started our travel in our kayaks. Although we were tired and sore by the time we got back, it was a great day on the water. We finished up our kayak day by washing the kayaks and lifting them back under the boat house and we were free to explore the Cape for exploration time!
In addition to kayaking on the surface of the water and exploring the island on vans on the South Eleuthera Road Trip (SERT) this week, we began to develop a sense of place for South Eleuthera through SCUBA diving!
We took our first breath underwater and plunged deeper and deeper into the ocean. In order to be certified divers, most of us had to develop skills such as buddy breathing, buoyancy, and other basic skills. In addition to these requirements for certification, we had a great time taking in our surroundings. A couple of ways that we made the dives fun were break dancing in the water and doing handstands. While underwater, we also had the opportunity to see some really cool marine life such as: sting rays, battle stars, and many colorful fish.
Even though our orientation week has been really busy, we are learning a lot about where we are and we even found time to unwind on the Fourth of July to celebrate America’s independence. We roasted marshmallows on the bonfire and we made s’mores (which for some of us was a first!) out on Boys Dorm Beach. We laughed and sang songs that reminded us of home. We realized how close we had become in only a few days! We lit sparklers and hung out all together. We are getting even more excited for the Bahamian Independence Day celebration tonight in Governor’s Harbour!
This summer, the Summer Term students will be writing blogs about their experience, but while they are busy in orientation, the summer term faculty will do their best to summarize the students’ daily life!
Hello from Eleuthera!
The students are quickly getting familiar with The Island School and all of the components of their Summer Term experience. This week, the students are busy orienting themselves with our kayak program, through a day-long kayak trip around the Cape, the SCUBA program, with three days of certification and training under the water, and our Down-Island program, with a daylong road trip around South Eleuthera.
Yesterday marked the first day of orientation and 11 students and three faculty headed north to Rock Sound for the term’s first South Eleuthera Road Trip – SERT – to experience the island aside from our campus. Later this summer, students will embark on a 4-day Down-Island journey, a vital part of The Island School experience. Through their trip up and down the island, students are introduced to the geography and culture of Eleuthera while understanding how much the those landscapes can teach the students about themselves and where they are. In addition, students will begin to understand the tourism industry on Eleuthera by visiting larger settlements to gain even more perspective of life on the island.
First stop on the SERT: the Banyan tree! Students had time to explore the area surrounding the Banyan tree before settling down for reflection, observation, and sketching what they saw. The group gathered to share ideas and drawings of the tree.At the Rock Sound Market nearby the Banyan tree, the SERT group searched the aisles for the most local and the more foreign foods they could find. After the 15-minute market hunt, they shared what they found and related their findings to the concept of local foods, waste, and the relationship between consuming food and the impact on the environment. For example, students were surprised that almost all the food on Eleuthera has to be shipped in from the United States. The students will Continue reading →