Tag Archives: the island school

IS Alumni Back on the Cape this Summer

We want to welcome back all of The Island School alumni who have returned to Cape Eleuthera and giving back this summer!



Griffin Hunt & Tori Suslovitch, Fall 2011
Griffin Hunt & Tori Suslovitch, Fall 2011

This summer, Griffin Hunt (F’11) is working as a Summer Term Alumni Mentor at The Island School. He is co–leading the Tourism and Development unit, a course which explores the history of Eleuthera and the underlying socio–economic factors that have impacted its development through two–night down–island trips and participation in relevant CEI research. Specifically, students will be exposed to political philosophy, ethnography, and tourism practices, along with two conservation–oriented field days with CEI researchers. In college, Griffin is pursuing a double major in Public Policy & Law and Philosophy. In addition to teaching the T&D unit, Griffin serves as an advisor to a group of students and an EMT and is co–head of the Boys Dorm. This is Griffin’s third summer at The Island School and he is psyched to spend the term with a remarkable faculty team and 50 passionate students.  

Summer Term alumni Maggie Winchester (Su'11) and Kristin Treat (Su'10)
Summer Term alumni Maggie Winchester (Su’11) and Kristin Treat (Su’10)

Kristin Treat (Su’10) is going to be a senior majoring in Marine Biology at Florida Institute of Technology. She is a shark conservation and research intern this summer at CEI. She is so excited to learn and get field experience during my time here.  Kristin loves traveling, scuba diving, and trying new things. Maggie Winchester (Su’11) is a shark intern from Vermont. She studied abroad in Morocco, and in the spring Maggie will be graduating from the University of New England. She is really excited to be back in Eleuthera and be working with sharks again. Christian Daniell (F’10) is back as an intern with the Shark Research and Conservation program at CEI. He mostly lives in the UK, and I is currently going into his fourth year at Connecticut College. This is Christian’s third time on the island, his first being in 2010 as a student, then in 2012 as an intern. Christian is looking forward to getting out there and tagging some fish and help out in any way he can. Chase Goldston (Su’13) is interning with the Flats team this summer. He is going into his sophomore year at Colby College. Chase is from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. He is a big Cleveland sports fan and loves dogs and being outdoors. Emilie Geissinger (S’08) is  a summer intern with the Flats Ecology Team.  She graduated from Bates College in 2014.  This past year she taught high school Biology at the Noble and Greenough School. She is very excited to be back in Eleuthera and participating in the awesome research going on here! Emilie plays  water polo with a team in Boston and participates in sprint triathlons for fun. Anna Jenkins (S’12) is in her third year at UC Berkeley and grew up in San Francisco. Anna is back at IS working with the Reef Ecology and Conservation research team and am very passionate about conservation regarding marine life and energy.  Anna’s hobbies include soccer, dance, and generally being outdoors. James Boyce (F’12) is back on Eleuthera and working as an intern in the Boathouse. He spent the first part of the summer on the 5 Gyres sailing expedition from Bermuda to the east coast of the US and is psyched to be back and helping out. Dana Biddle (S’13) is very excited to be back this summer. During her semester, she worked with Jocelyn on the lionfish and lobster research project. She is back working for Jocelyn on the Sustainable Fisheries team. Dana will be a sophomore at the University of Miami next year and is studying Marine Science. Dana Colihan (S’12) is a Reef Ecology and Conservation Research Intern this summer.  She was born and raised in New York City although Dana is currently attending Oberlin College in Ohio. She is an Environmental Studies major and a rising junior. Dana like bagels, fixing/riding bikes, and works at a Living Machine at Oberlin. She is super excited to be be back and to be doing work on sustainable fisheries this summer! 

A big crew of Fall 2010 alumni!
A big crew of Fall 2010 alumni!

Aly Boyce (F’10) is working with the Sea Turtle team for the summer. She is originally from Abaco- just one island north of Eleuthera! Currently, she is a rising senior at UC Berkeley double majoring in Political Science and Environmental Science. She is looking forward to getting to spend time with old friends and getting to meet many more! She also hopes to be able to explore Eleuthera and freedive as much as possible. Brandon Gell (F’10) is currently a rising senior at Middlebury College in Vermont. This summer he is working at CSD working on creating a the framework for a sustainable design competition to be held at The Island School. Brandon is psyched to be back here and is looking forward to catching up with old friends and making many new ones.

Fall 2012 alumni James Boyce and Ryan Schendel
Fall 2012 alumni James Boyce and Ryan Schendel

 Ryan Schendel (F’12) is working as a general systems intern at CSD. He is studying Sustainable Environmental Design at UC Berkeley. His project this summer is to connect the water cisterns underneath CSD with the pipe system throughout Island School Campus and CEI. Tamara Pletzer (S’12) is the aquaponics intern this summer. She is a second year at University of Edinburgh and is studying economics and math but originally hails from Colorado. Tamara loves scuba diving, swimming, among other activities and is looking forward to learning more about the aquaponics system as well as how to create the beds, grow tilapia and try growing different plants in the system! Whit Powel (S’09) is back for her third summer  teaching, advising, and shaping the young minds of Summer Term students.  This summer, she will be teaching the Sustainable Systems unit, advising, co-heading the Girls Dorm, and fulfilling the role of Dean of Students.  Her hometown is Shaker Heights, Ohio and she graduated this spring from Denison University. Catharine Pirie (F’10) will be returning for her second summer working as a Tourism and Development teacher, advisor, and co-head of Girls Dorm for the Summer Term students. She is from Hamilton, Massachusetts and is currently a senior at Hobart and William Smith colleges. Catharine is so excited for yet another amazing and exciting summer here! Tori Suslovitch (F’11) is a rising Senior at the University of Tampa where she studies Biology with minors in Chemistry and Education. This is her first time back on Eleuthera since her semester and she is excited to help teach Marine Ecology for the Summer TermMeaghan Kachadoorian (F’10) is from Connecticut and goes to school in North Carolina. She is really happy to be back and teaching Summer Term for the Tourism & Development and Sustainable Systems units. Katie Gougelet (S’08) is from Hanover, New Hampshire and a recent alumna of Dartmouth College. This is her first summer back to Eleuthera since Spring ’08 and she is excited to be here helping to teach and and get involved with all aspects of the students’ summer experience. Max Maloberti (S’10) is a Biology major and Junior at Dickinson College, PA. He is back teaching the Marine Ecology unit.  Ever since his semester, he has been wanting to come back so he is really excited for this summer.  Liam Macartney (F’13) is back and excited to be working with the Educational Programs team. George Giannos (F’10) is back for his 5th time since his semester working in CSD and helping oversee all of the interns at CEI and CSD this summer. Meagan Gary (F’07) is a Masters student at Florida Atlantic University and this summer/fall she will be comparing the home range and habitat use of different sized immature green turtles at CEI. After graduating from Colorado College where she majored in Biology, Meagan returned to CEI and was the sea turtle research assistant. Mike Cortina (F’02) has been working at CSD for 1.5 years as a Sustainability Teacher. Stanley Burnside (F’07) is a lead educator with CEI’s Educational Programs.

Island School Hosts an International Youth Summit with Musician, Jack Johnson and 5 Gyres

This past weekend The Island School hosted the SEA Change Youth Summit with musician, Jack Johnson and 5 Gyres to raise awareness about the impacts of plastic pollution in the ocean and to inspire young students to be advocates for change. 34 Students gathered from Abaco, Grand Bahama, New Providence and Eleuthera as well as a school group out of New York and another student from Jamaica.

Students, chaperones and facilitators of the summit gather before the beach clean up.

As part of the kick-off for the weekend on Friday June 5th, Jack Johnson took part in a designation ceremony to become a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The designation was timely as last Friday marked World Environment Day, a UN flagship event encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the environment, celebrated in over 100 countries.

Musician Jack Johnson plays a few songs at the UNEP Designation where he was recognized as a Goodwill Ambassador.

Included in the kickoff to the festivities hosted on The Island School’s campus were remarks from Chris Maxey, founder of The Cape Eleuthera Island School, Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen, founders of the 5 Gyres Institute and Celine Cousteau, film maker, environmentalist and daughter of ocean explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau and the granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau. Also in the line up was Kristal Ambrose, founder of Bahamas Plastic Movement and Minister of Education, Science and Technology, The Hon. Jerome Fitzgerald.

Summit attendees inspect some of the plastics found during the beach clean up.

The first day of the Summit centered around raising awareness on the issue of plastic pollution so that the students could create their own solutions based on the stories and information they’d received. In the afternoon students, facilitators, Jack Johnson and visiting UNEP representative, Naysan Sahba visited a local beach to do a clean-up lead by Kristal Ambrose. The day finished with a Junkanoo, cultural activity lead by Art teacher and Space to Create founder, Will Simmons in which Summit attendees, Island School students and Jack Johnson created original songs about plastic pollution to the Junkanoo beat provided by the visiting South Eleutheran students from Preston H. Albury High School.

Summit attendees, 5 Gyres, and Jack Johnson celebrate World Environment Day on June 5 and show off all of the beach plastic they gathered.

The second day began with a workshop on how to reduce single-use disposable plastics in the household. Students were given tips and tools on how to make their own toothpaste and steer away from buying highly packaged products and personal care products containing plastic micro-beads. After lunch, David Stover, co-founder of Bureo Skateboards told his story of making skateboards from fish netting found in the ocean and beaches of Chile. The students then sifted through their findings from Friday’s clean-up to create a symbolic SEA Change eye sculpture out of plastics with Dianna Cohen, founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition. The sculpture was then showcased at the Deep Creek Homecoming where Summit attendees enjoyed a plastic free event thanks to a donation by World Centric for all food packaging. Recover also pitched in with a donation of t-shirts for the homecoming made from recycled plastic bottles.

Students at the summit make all-natural toothpaste.

The last day of the Summit was spent teaching the students how to tell and share their own stories and to create their own solutions. Facilitators and visiting activists, scientists and artists participated in group discussions on how each student could make a change in their home, on their island and in their country. The day ended in a closing ceremony with music by local band, The Rum Runners, as well as Jack Johnson, who performed alongside local and visiting musicians and even played a tune with two Island School students.

Using the beach plastic the the students found during the beach clean up, they created a symbolic SEA Change eye sculpture with Dianna Cohen, founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition. The sculpture was then showcased at the Deep Creek Homecoming.

Summit organizer, The Island School’s Brittney Maxey, was blown away by the energy coming from the young students. “This is a historical event not only for us at The Island School and the island of Eleuthera, but also for The Bahamas and other island nations as a whole. We are sending these motivated young people back out into the world equipped with the tools to make a difference in their communities. The Island School’s mission is leadership affecting change and this weekend embodied this belief not only for the students but for the island of Eleuthera. We are a small place making big change.”

Thank you to event supporters: Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, AML Foods, Cape Eleuthera Resort & Marina, Recover, World Centric, From the Bow Seat, Bahamas Waste Limited, Cable Bahamas, One Eleuthera, The Muggia Family and Kim & Floyd Wilson.

Student Update: Kayak

Arielle and Nelle dressed and ready for K4.
Arielle and Nelle dressed and ready for K4.

After seeing the first two kayak groups return from their 8-day kayak adventure a different skin tone and their hair a couple shades blonder, I was hopeful for the day I would come back, looking as beautiful as they did. However, on the third day of kayak, K4 quickly realized that we would not have the same, sunny experience.

The day started out daunting with our leaders of the day informing the group that we had a long, twelve-mile paddle ahead of us. We needed to get so far because the following day’s forecast was not as good for kayaking.   So we put on our life jackets and spray skirts and launched our kayaks. The weather was dark, but fine until the last mile of paddling. Out of no where, the rain fell like a sheet.

As we pushed through the water and weather, we kept a tight pod and chanted a tribal song that then turned into yelling, then screaming. It was hilarious, magical, and miserable all at the same time. I noticed a huge grin across my face, as well as maybe a few tears.

When we finally made it to the beach, we were so ready to relax from our hard day of kayaking. The beach in front of us awed us. It looked like a different island, something more tropical and mountainous. Once we hauled up our kayaks, we all ran into the massive turquoise waves and body surfed in the rain. I couldn’t believe where I was, the warmth of the waves that surrounded me, and the amazing friends that tumbled with me through the water. It was crazy and exhilarating and an experience I will remember forever.

-Nelle Cabot

Khalil paddles into the rain.
Khalil paddles into the rain.

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.

Rachel Miller Attends Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Meeting

Rachel Miller beside the Jekyll Island Convention Center where the Sea Turtle conference was held.
Rachel Miller beside the Jekyll Island Convention Center where the Sea Turtle conference was held.

Earlier in February, Rachel Miller, the Research Assistant for the Sea Turtle Conservation Program, attended the Southeast Regional Sea Turtle Meeting in Jekyll Island, GA, a five-day conference that focused on the newest sea turtle research from the Southeast United States. In addition to learning about the newest sea turtle research, Rachel had the opportunity to meet with top scientists, upcoming scientists, and Island School alumni. At the conference, Rachel met IS alumna Sarah Kollar (S’07) who is working with the Trash Free Seas division of the Ocean Conservancy in Washington, DC.  It’s awesome to see where Island School has reached! You can find out more about SERST here. 

Island School on CNN’s “Wish You Were Here”

CNN is doing a series of videos called “Wish You Were Here” and has chosen to include The Island School! CNN asked adventurous people all over the world to send them video of their daily lives to get a glimpse of the different ways to spend a day at the office. Thanks to F’03 alumnus, Connor Boals for making the connection. Check out the video here!


This video consists of footage from free diving earlier in the semester, paddle boarding during exploration, and an ocean hole that we stopped at during our Down Island Trip. Free diving is one of my passions so I knew I wanted to include it in this week’s blog and share it with the world. The footage is of a site called “tunnel rock” that is around 30 feet deep. The paddle boarding footage was taken during exploration time and we were lucky enough to find six eagle rays in boathouse cut! That was the first time I saw eagle rays and I had been waiting the entire semester to find one, so it was exciting. Our Down Island Trip was fun overall but the highlight for me was definitely the ocean hole. I love to jump off cliffs into water and so doing that at the ocean hole gave me a rush.

Alex Weinstein

Island School Zombies.
Students and faculty dressed as zombies for the annual zombie run-swim.

On the 31st of October, everyone who was not on kayak or a down island trip woke up and prepared for a normal run-swim. To our surprise, we got handed three palm fronds to tie around our waists. We separated into groups and began our planned run-swim as normal. We turned the first corner and saw our English teacher, Olivia, standing before us in full zombie apparel, and quite in character. When we got closer, faculty members sprinted out of the woods, attempting to get our fronds. The only sanctuary that we found was when we burst into the clearing ready to once again get in the water. However, looming across the cut stood more faculty zombies waiting for us. In the end, it was probably the most intense workout thus far, and undoubtedly the most fun. That night, the caciques had prepared a Halloween surprise. Firstly at circle, we all showed up in our Halloween apparel. Then after dinner and an hour of study hall, we all went into the kitchen for a cake that they had made for us. The second surprise was that we all went into the presentation room and watched The Shining, however we only got half way before we had to go to bed. It was an exciting Halloween for all, and I couldn’t think of a better location to spend it than in the Bahamas.

Peter Ellinger

K3 on 8-day kayak.
K3 on 8-day kayak.
K3 as a storm approaches.
K3 as a storm approaches.



















Our 8-Day kayak trip will be one of my favorite memories of my Island School experience. It started off with Courtney and me in a double kayak with the sun shining. But quickly, the sun hid behind the clouds and we all saw a wall of rain waiting for us before our next campsite. Then it poured. It was a complete downpour for the first three days of our trip. While passing Princess Cays, we were in 15 minutes of strong, persistent wind while buckets of rain dumped down on us. I seriously considered paddling to the cruise ship offshore to ask for a room, but Alexa and Courtney kept screaming “The Climb” and my mood lifted. Once we got to Lighthouse beach on day three, a day earlier than planned, some of the engineers in the group created a type of shelter to stop the rain from hitting the fire that Jack was furiously trying to build. No one wanted to have cereal or tortillas and peanut butter for dinner, but we did. After dinner, the girls found out that one of our tents had collapsed and was sitting in a puddle of mud. In a spot of gloom, Téa lifted our spirits and recommended that all 7 girls fit into one tent. It worked okay for a little, until I felt the raindrops hitting my forehead in the middle of the night. At around 10:30 I couldn’t take it anymore, so I got out of the tent (at that point it had stopped raining) and was going to set up the other tent myself. But Alexa couldn’t sleep either, so she and I got up with only one working headlamp, and set up the tent. All five of the other girls were stuck in a tent piled together, while Alexa and I spread out, just the two of us in a four-person tent. The sun finally came out by day four. With our soaking tents and soggy food, we pressed on to turn this kayak trip around. The group as a whole explored the different caves and cliffs of lighthouse beach, spending our last 24 hours together before we would spend 48 hours alone. The next day, the sun was shining and it was time to take our oaths of silence on the cliff looking down the beach. All 13 of us walked down the beach silently, waiting for our turns to be dropped off. I was third, but could see Hendricks to my right, and Hugh to my left. They kept me entertained for most of my solo, but sometimes I would spend my time huddled in the corner of my self-made shelter, hiding from the sun and journaling. On the morning of pick up, I woke up early to pack up and watch the sunrise. As soon as I saw Glenn leading the group down the beach, a smile hit my face. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself for doubting my ability to last the 48 hour solo. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to survive 48 hours alone, but I did. I did it and am so proud of myself for accomplishing it. It was a major milestone in my Island School life. At the cliff, when our oath of silence was broken, it was so nice to see everyone and hear about peoples’ journeys. Our last few days of kayak went by like a breeze. The sun was shining and we could see for miles. That night around the campfire, K3 bonded about our solos, and I will always remember everyone singing along to Eliot’s bucket song and just how happy I was to be with everyone. The time that I spent with this group on kayak will always be one of my favorite memories from my Island School experience. It has helped change me and shape me into a better and stronger person.

Libby Schwab


Students pose for a picture in Hatchet Bay Cave in Northern Eleuthera.
Students pose for a picture in Hatchet Bay Cave in Northern Eleuthera.










View from The Glass Window Bridge.
View from The Glass Window Bridge.










Beach at the old Club Med Resort.
Beach at the old Club Med Resort.










After a nice sleep-in post-kayak, I was woken up to a loud “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” from all of girls dorm. I was so psyched to be spending my birthday with my friends on day one of the Down Island Trip. We had all heard the other groups rave about how much fun it was and I couldn’t wait to get going. On our first day, we visited a ruined airport and resort, a horse farm, and Harbour Island. It was fascinating to see the remnants of Eleuthera’s past through the overgrown runways and the disintegrating Venta Club resort. Oceanview Farm had many beautiful, healthy horses that we were able to see, and a very knowledgeable owner named Angela. She told us so much about the history of Eleuthera and how it has developed and changed over the past years. Harbour Island is a quaint island where the most common form of transportation is via golf cart. As we walked up and down the streets looking for people to interview for our Histories class, we stopped at the beach and saw the incredibly soft, pink sand that stretched on for miles. After conducting a few interviews, we split up to find a place to eat dinner. My group and I walked up and down the same street for hours looking for Avery’s, a small family-style restaurant that serves amazing, authentic food. We took a water taxi back, set up camp for the night by Preacher’s Cave, then made a fire on the beach where I was surprised with scrambled birthday cake (warm, half cooked cake batter made in a pan over a small fire) and Oreos. It was by far the best birthday I’ve ever had and there was no place I would rather have been. The next day I was woken up to a loud “HAPPY HALLOWEEN!” from the girls in my tent. We packed up camp as fast as we could so we could arrive at Spanish Wells, a 3-mile island just off of Eleuthera, in time for breakfast. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more amazing breakfast sandwich or milkshake in my life. Afterwards we walked around the island, which also used golf carts for transportation, and stopped at a thrift shop where many of us found Halloween costumes for later that night. We took a boat back around lunchtime and made our way to the blue hole. I looked down a 20ft drop into a natural pool of ocean water in the middle of a field. Jumping into the brisk, salty water was one of the most exhilarating leaps I’ve ever taken. We then made our way to the Hatchet Bay where we ventured deep into the dark abyss of a damp, rocky cave. The writing on the walls of the cave added an eerie Halloween effect. By the time we finished our adventures, it was the late afternoon so we headed out for a late lunch and Harkness discussion (because yes, this was an academic trip although it felt like a vacation). As the sun started setting we went to set up camp at an old Club Med. The beach there had some of the softest, pinkest sand I’ve ever seen and acres of falling down buildings and destroyed swimming pools. After some exploration, we all put on our wacky costumes and left for a Fish Fry in Governor’s Harbour. There was a DJ, limbo, and great food all night. By the time we got back to our campsite, we were all knocked out from too much singing and dancing in the streets. The following morning we had a Harkness discussion at the library, stopped at the mouth watering Governor’s Harbour Bakery, then made our way back to campus. The Down Island Trip exceeded my expectations, and I was lucky enough to have all my great friends with me to experience it. I can easily say that this has been one of the highlights of my Island School experience.

Inna Oh



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!


Student Gavin Siegert chose to make a video about freediving for this week’s Student Update.  Gavin has been working on his freediving skills with founder Chris Maxey and our other certified instructors over the past seven weeks.


Students completing work during evening study hours.


When I think of Island School, there are a few words that always come to mind. The Bahamas, SCUBA diving, marine biology, beach, etc. One thing I’ve learned from being here is that there is one more word that should come to mind: academics. The majority of our days here are spent in class or doing homework. That work is not always the type that most high school students are used to, but it’s challenging nonetheless. With so many beautiful places and incredible things to do, hunkering down on Sunday, my one free day of the week, and writing a project proposal for my research project takes a lot of will power. One of the major difficulties is finding a balance between work and play. When everyone else is going out for exploration time, sometimes I need to stay behind for homework to get it done. Sometimes I have to do that a few days in a row, but I also have to remember to find time to get off campus, explore, and have fun. The great thing about Island School is that there are opportunities for adventure even during classes. With the right mindset, SCUBA diving for marine ecology or building a site-specific sculpture anywhere on campus for environmental art doesn’t feel like class, it can feel like an amazing way to spend a few hours. Taking advantage of every situation Island School offers is one way to make the workload and classwork not quite as difficult, and make the experience even more incredible.

Abby Heher


The Deepsea Survivorship team pulls in long lines over the Exuma Sound.
The Deepsea Survivorship team pulls in long lines over the Exuma Sound.

The image of the first time I jumped into the warm blue water during our first field day is still plastered in my mind. Everywhere I looked was a deep royal blue, extending 600 meters below me into an unknown world our research is trying so hard to uncover. At first I was so nervous floating out in the water alone, but as the cage emerged from the bottomless blue pit I could see the 4 Cuban dogfish suspended in the cage, and all of a sudden that feeling of fear was replaced with awe and excitement. I watched as one by one my research advisor guided down the living sharks back to their home in the deep-sea. It is these moments in research that always keep me on my toes and ready to learn. These moments have also given me a love for what we are doing enough to keep my attention throughout our 3 hour research classes spent analyzing research papers and discussing the scientific method. Though it is easily our most challenging and stressful class here at the Island School, it is one that is already the most rewarding to me and so many of my other classmates.

Alexa Hoffman

Eliot on the Cobia.
Eliot on the Cobia.


Before coming to The Island School I had never gone for more than two weeks without seeing my friends and family. At the beginning of my time here, I didn’t miss anyone from home because there were so many new people around me. Still, I was excited for my first twenty minute phone time. Along with being excited, I was nervous dialing the phone to call home. So much had happened in just one week and I didn’t know how I could tell it all in twenty minutes, and explain the things that we do here that my parents and friends wouldn’t understand. As the phone rang, I realized how excited I was to tell all the stories of what had happened. My parents answered and after our happy hellos, we fell into a brief silence. I hadn’t expected this to happen, because I had so much to tell and didn’t know where to begin. I forced them to ask me questions and our conversation grew as I explained what morning exercise was, or as I told stories from 3 day kayak. My twenty minutes quickly came to an end and I had a mix of happiness and sadness as I hung up the phone. Over the following weeks I was always looking forward to my phone time, but as I began to talk to my friends I realized that what I found to be interesting at The Island School was fairly boring to my friends at home. I would want to tell the drama of morning exercise, but to my friends, hearing about an early morning run would be fairly boring. After phone times, I would have a hard time focusing because my mind was taken back to my home, and it took me awhile to arrive back at The Island School for study hours. For the most part I would want to talk longer on the phone and feel like I should have been allowed forty minutes or an hour to talk to people at home. But as my phone time high wore off I realized how much I enjoy my time here. I have begun to notice how I don’t feel as much of a need to talk to people at home, I just need those twenty minutes as a break.

Eliot Brett