Reflections from the Advisory of Caleb Florence

From left: Brad Stanton, Caroline Woodard, Oliver Parizeau, Katherine Kosoff and Tripp Markuson.

From left: Brad Stanton, Caroline Woodard, Oliver Parizeau, Katherine Kosoff and Tripp Markuson.

Oliver Parizeau

Morning workouts at The Island School are like a box of chocolates; you never really know what you are going to get. Every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning, we tend to have some really fun workouts. Tuesdays and Thursdays are track workouts; meaning that you work out with your selected group: either run track or swim track. One of the best workouts that I had here was during one of our first long track workouts. When I heard that we were going to go out 30 minutes and then come back in 30 minutes, I was stoked. I had not run more than four miles for at least four months. The run started off great; I was running 7:30 splits with the lead group. We were chugging along for a good 3 miles, until we reached the path to Deal’s Pointe. If you have never been to the Bahamas before, especially Eleuthera, you’ll know that it’s pretty flat here. The thing about the path to Deal’s Pointe is that it becomes really hilly out of nowhere. If you have ever watched WWE you know that scene where the announcer yells, “watch out, watch out, watch out, watch out!” Well, that’s what I thought in my head when I hit the path and saw all these random hills outta nowhere. That killed my run. Although these hills and random drops were hard, I persevered and toughed my way through it. In the end I managed to run just under eight miles. At home, these hills wouldn’t have been all that bad, but the intense heat of the Bahamas and the flat terrain we trained on in previous runs did not help you when you hit the hills at Deals Pointe! 

 

Caroline Woodard

Before coming to The Island School, I was dead set on running the half marathon. I had myself convinced. I run cross country at home and never had any interest in swimming. That all changed when I came here. When we tested the waters of both run and swim track, I really enjoyed run track. We watched the sun rise while we did partner sprints over the bridge. Overall, it was an incredible workout that I would have loved the opportunity to do for the next 100 days. The next morning, I remember thinking I was going to die of hyperthermia while slowly submerging myself in the coolness of the February water in Water Polo Cut. After realizing I was overreacting and it wasn’t actually that cold, we started swimming. I was instantly mesmerized by the opportunity to see all the sea life, and I actually enjoyed the swimming. I really did not see that coming. The next day came and it was time to decide whether I would stick with what was comfortable and do run track, or whether I would learn to start pushing myself and do something I knew I wasn’t good at and sign up for swim track. At the end of the day, I decided I would take a leap and do swim track. Since then, I have looked forward to having pole swims on Tuesdays and playing water polo on Fridays and all the days in between where we are just swimming laps and improving our skills. I have come a long way since the beginning and I am so thrilled for the 4-mile swim that is coming my way!

 

Katherine Kosoff

Every morning, all of Treehouse wakes up to the sound of my watch going off.  This one morning, though, everybody woke up at 5:45.  Slowly, everybody got out of bed, ready to start the day. All 53 of us met in the circle promptly at 6:00 AM, eager for what was to come. After the morning announcements, all of the runners huddled around the flagpole in preparation for the exercise ahead of us. I could almost feel the nerves and excitement of everybody as we waited for what was to come. Today was our first “super” long tracks. Two students led the group in stretches as we approached Queen’s Highway. As soon as we reached Queen’s Highway, I gave my buddy, Annie, a high five as we set our watches for an hour and a half run. I took a deep breath as Leigh said to go. As soon as we started running, my nerves from earlier disappeared.  Annie and I kept a steady pace and talked for the next nine miles. As we rounded the turn into CEI, Annie and I both gained new energy as we sprinted our way over the bridge to the flagpole.  As soon as I touched the flagpole at the end, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Nine miles was the longest I had ever run, and now I cannot wait for another challenge on the 13.1 mile half marathon.

 

Tripp Markuson

So when I was deciding which AMX (Morning Exercise) track I wanted to commit to, the decision was both clear and incredibly difficult to make. I came to The Island School as a huge swimmer, in love with the sport. I also came here never having run more than a mile before. It would have been easy to do swim track, where it would be a breeze, but I decided to do run track, which was incredibly difficult for me. In the beginning, I dreaded the mornings that I would have to run. But soon I began to look forward to long track days where I would be running six or seven miles. I learned to love the burn. I was amazed by how both my body and my mentality were changing. I now really love running and am going to do it when I get home. This was an amazing opportunity that AMX gave to me.

 

Brad Stanton

AMX is a special experience. To be able to wake up each morning, watch a gorgeous Bahamian sunrise and take a run or a swim with your best friends. It’s difficult to wake up early every morning, but after while it becomes easy. Mentally you know that your goal is to run a half marathon or to swim four miles. Nothing is more driving than that. And at the end of the semester, when you get out of the water or cross the finish line, you know that everything you have been working for is has been worth it. And the reward is like no other.

Antonius Roberts Artist-In-Residence: Marielle Barrow, Spring 2017

Because our mission at The Island School is to guide future leaders, we have always encouraged the use of different languages and methods to help students practice exploring with new eyes. When experienced artists join a group of willing students in living well within this place, there is a transformation. Artists help us ground ourselves, expand our thinking, and embolden our work. 

Marielle used her time here to explore, immerse, question, create, and reflect. Between research outings, art presentations, and watercolor workshops, she found ways to connect with this community.

“The fossil of the Conch seemed to me the center of this place, symbolizing that dialectic of transience and permanence, never the whole of experience, yet remaining, yet sustaining and sustained… A shell is a cloak. A cloak that protects, yet holds dear and invites. Power lies in simplicity and within these mundane traversed objects is a capacity of transference of stories, spirituality, the knowledge of rings of gnarls. And what art does offer, whether its physical manifestations are provocative or not, is the space to hide for a moment from your own feelings and allow the process to work through you.”

At the conclusion of the two week residency, Marielle unveiled her interactive and collaborative sculpture. The installation can be viewed, and contributed to, in the main reception at CEI.

Without the ability to recognize, appreciate or discuss the beauty of the organism or ecosystem we are studying, there is an opportunity to disconnect from the emotions that sparked the interest in the first place.

“We must involve every human in our journey toward scientific understanding.  Data is essential, but communicating these findings is imperative. Art is truly a universal language- one that has power to connect deeply and naturally to our emotions. It is when we experience an emotional response to the data that we care. We change. We make a difference.”  - Lisa Schmitt, Director of Arts CEIS

Originally from Trinidad, Marielle holds a postgraduate diploma in arts and cultural management and an MPhil in cultural studies from The University of the West Indies. She was a Fulbright Scholar at George Mason University and completed her PhD in Cultural Studies last year.

Former Island School parent, Amy Sackman, commemorates her son's experience

As Spring 2017 Parents' Weekend gets underway, we wanted to share former Island School parent Amy Sackman’s perspective on her experience that many families – past and present - can relate to about the challenges for both students and families that are inherent in The Island School journey. We wanted to share the chance to request your own special commemoration of the Island School experience through her handiwork; you can reach her at www.amysackmannon-traditionalquilting.com In that spirit, we’d love to hear your story of how you have honored your child’s Island School experience! Please share with us: alumni@islandschool.org

When our son Aaron (Spring ’16), returned home from his 100 day experience, he wanted me to help him find a way to commemorate the “sense of place” he’d developed at The Island School. As a quilt artist I have been celebrating big events in people’s lives for years, so when Aaron asked if I would create a piece for him using an Island School t-shirt and some photos he took while there, I jumped at the opportunity. Carefully selecting fabric that captured the colors and feel of Eleuthera, together with the scanned-on-fabric photos and t-shirt, I created an IS-themed quilt.  In the tradition of “reduce, reuse, recycle,” I also made him a pillow using the other side of the t-shirt. Sewing the pieces together and revisiting the photos reminded me of our time together in Eleuthera.

When Aaron first told my husband and me that he wanted to attend The Island School and dragged us to the computer screen to see what appeared to be paradise, we made it clear to him that he could apply, but that even if he was accepted, we couldn’t afford to send him without substantial assistance.  Thus began our Island School journey. Hopeful that he would get accepted, Aaron got a job and saved his earnings. He set up a GoFundMe account and spent days writing and rewriting his application. He convinced his high school principal to let him go if he was accepted (no one from his school had ever done anything like this before).  Lo and behold, he was offered a spot and given financial aid. On March 3rd, 2016, Aaron was on a plane headed to the Bahamas. What had seemed like pure fantasy had become reality.

We started to have a sense of what The Island School was really about during our weekly phone calls. Aaron shared a play-by-play of his days … the focus on fitness, academics, community and the environment. We were mesmerized by his stories of scuba diving, kayak trips, and his solo as well as the engaging academic rigor. We could feel him growing intellectually and emotionally while developing a richer worldview. However, it wasn’t until we arrived for parents weekend that we really understood the Island School mission and the impact the school was having on our son, and on ourselves.  Those few days allowed us to share in his experience and understand why it was a life changer – family style meals, run-swims, group presentations, snorkeling off of the Cobia, chasing turtles, and visiting the Deep Creek Middle School. The importance of living in a sustainable place impressed us; there were solar panels and wind turbines, and everyone focused on turning off the lights and conserving water. No napkins, rarely flushed toilets, and the focus on reduce, reuse and recycle. We, too, were hooked. 

Aaron loved the finished quilt and pillow and wanted to share them with his IS family, feeling that “everyone will want one.”  In that spirit, I am offering the opportunity to purchase a custom quilt or pillow using your child’s photos and a t-shirt to commemorate and celebrate the Island School experience.  I am also committing to make a gift to The Island School of 20% of the receipts from this project as small way of helping to make it possible for other kids’ lives to be enriched and changed in the ways that Aaron’s continues to be.

Weekly Peek: The Buddy Program

Abby Wright with her DCMS buddy from Grade 7.

Abby Wright with her DCMS buddy from Grade 7.

Yesterday, the students of Deep Creek Middle School (DCMS) jumped into vans and joined the Island School community for an afternoon full of activity! The event was organized in part by Lisa Schmitt, the Assistant Principal and Art Teacher at DCMS. Lisa joined the Cape Eleuthera community four years ago and has since developed a deep passion for the Buddy Program that exists between Island School and DCMS students. 

Luke Weinstein working with his buddy, who is one of our two Early Learning Center participants.

Luke Weinstein working with his buddy, who is one of our two Early Learning Center participants.

Each semester at the Island School, students are paired with a “buddy” - a member of the seventh, eighth, or ninth grade at DCMS. Throughout an Island School student’s one hundred days here, they will take part in four significant meetings or events with their buddies. This year, the first of these meetings took place at Sunset Beach. Activities ranging from volleyball to jumprope to team-building games were going on all along the beach and on the field nearby. The second meeting this semester was a discussion that occurred following presentations at the Young Men’s Leadership Conference here on campus, allowing students an opportunity to open up about more serious topics relevant to Bahamian Youth. The third meeting, which happened yesterday afternoon, was an afternoon that began with a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) challenge: to design a reef organism that would survive climate change. Students were mixed and divided into groups to take on the assignment. Afterwards, students were unleashed on the beach to swim and play for the rest of the day. The final event, which takes place in two weeks, is the Basketball Jamboree at the DCMS basketball court. This is an event that Island School students have been a part of for a long time - an afternoon filled with competition and laughs.

Annie McGill and Ellie Adams with their Grade 7 buddy.

Annie McGill and Ellie Adams with their Grade 7 buddy.

The relationships that are built through the Buddy Program are important for both parties, for different reasons. For Island School students, getting to know a local student of a younger age range allows them to develop a sense for what it’s like to grow up here. It’s different. They learn empathy as well as cross-cultural communication skills. For DCMS students, this relationship can mean even more: it provides them with an international experience without having to go abroad. By the end of their three years of middle school, they will have developed relationships with six buddies who can come from all over the world. Some of the students remain in contact beyond their physical time together - through WhatsApp and social media. These contacts have come in handy down the road when DCMS students visit the United States or attend boarding schools nearby to former Island School students. While the program continues to grow, hopefully so will the network of students around the globe whose perspectives have been altered by the connections they made with someone who experiences life in a very different - though very similar - way to their own.

A DCMS student helping his group design a new species of shark that would survive climate change.

A DCMS student helping his group design a new species of shark that would survive climate change.

Reflections from the Advisory of Max Maloberti

Andrew Treat, Natalie Edman, Jarrett Young, Maggie Kearney, and Henry Howe

Andrew Treat, Natalie Edman, Jarrett Young, Maggie Kearney, and Henry Howe

Henry Howe

The 50 days leading up to our expedition rotation were remarkable and have made my Island School experience one that I will never forget. On April 27th, we packed up all of our essentials and hit the beautiful Bahamian waters. With 13 other friends and 3 amazing leaders, we started our journey at Deep Creek and paddled a respectable distance on the first afternoon. The crystal clear water heard and absorbed all of our chatter as we built stronger connections and bonded through riddles and jokes. Our first debrief around the campfire allowed everyone to share their stories and their glows and glums of the day. We also looked at finding new ways to improve for the next day so that we could become even stronger both as a whole group and individually. Everyday, we were each able to hold a leadership position which opened unique possibilities for people to grow as a prominent and important member in our community. The leaders took a step back and let us run the trip which all of us enjoyed and decided to take full advantage of. 

My favorite part of the trip was our time around the fire at night after a long day on the water. We would usually finish our paddle around 4, leaving ample time to get settled and have fun at camp. Towards the end of the trip, Sam shared his love for a game called Dungeons and Dragons which has been the talk of the town. Everyone wants to play! Essentially, it is a fantasy video game (that we played with our minds and imagination) that allows you to create anyone and go on adventures and quests in a different world. Even Max (our leader) was playing, and it was extremely funny to see him so involved in our heated discussions. Night time allowed all of us to come together as a unit and reflect as one. I believe that we came into the trip with open hands, having made good friendships with some but not all. Kayak gave all 14 of us the time to balance sharing and listening to create those lasting ties that we will keep close forever. The Whiptails (our group name - after a sting ray species) are gearing up for our down island trip, jumping up and down for more time together but also for some amazing food. It has all been very fast-paced but that makes it all the better! 

 

Maggie Kearney

My favorite parts of our Down Island Trip were the Sapphire blue hole and the Hatchet Bay caves.  The blue hole was bright teal and very pretty. We all had a chance to jump from the side all the way down to the beautiful, clear water. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. The Hatchet Bay caves were so cool. It was the first time in my life that I’ve had the chance to enter a cave. It was pitch black and there were stalagmites all over. It was creepy but so interesting and exhilarating to walk through. Overall, down island was so fun and so interesting to see all the different parts of the island. I ate good food, bonded closely with my group during the long car rides and around the camp fire, and had a really great time.

The Glass Window Bridge

The Glass Window Bridge

Natalie Edman

What a week! During expeditions, I was one of fourteen students and two faculty members that piled into a van and headed down island. The Down Island Trip is five jam-packed days with the nights spent camping on the beach. The first morning, after waking up on the beach, we had a class right there where we had camped before setting off on our day’s adventures, which included a stop at The Glass Window Bridge. This was a lot of people’s favorite part of the trip. The Glass Window Bridge is the narrowest part of the island where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean beneath a single-lane bridge. The highlight of the trip for me, however, was our stop at the Sapphire Blue Hole at the north end of the island. We even got to jump in! It was 20 feet tall and we took some awesome group go-pro videos.

On our way home, we had class together after having a chance to conduct an interview at the Ministry of Tourism, where we learned some interesting facts about tourism in the Bahamas. We spent a lot of time exploring Governor’s Harbour and bonding at Club Med Beach. We even saw a very rare wild horse during a stop on the way home! The entire trip was an amazing experience in which we all got to learn more about the island of Eleuthera, and more about each other.

 

Andrew Treat

Andrew, getting ready to set sail

Andrew, getting ready to set sail

I was asked on the second day at The Island School “In what experience, in the future, do you think will have felt the most outside of your comfort zone?”. The first thing that popped into my mind was solo, for sure. 48 hours alone! That scared the bejeezus out of me. I love people. I see people everyday. Suddenly, I will be put in a position in which there will be no people. The thought made me anxious. Finally, after five days of sailing, we arrived at Kemp’s Creek. I was led to my solo spot, which turned out to be a little space wooded with casuarina pines overlooking a beautiful creek. I thought to myself: well, I guess this isn’t so bad. However, the minute my teacher left, I realized that solo had begun. For an hour, I couldn’t figure out what to do with myself. Eventually, I began making a shelter out of sheer boredom. The first night and day was not a problem. It rained for most of the first day, but I thought nothing of it. That is, until sunset… At about 7:30 pm, and to my right was the most beautiful Bahamian sunset imaginable. To my left, however, were the blackest, angriest clouds I have ever seen. A bit worried, I made sure everything was under my tarp and strapped down for a storm. I hunkered down under the tarp as well and waited. As soon as night fell, it started to sprinkle, then rain, then pour. The wind began to pick up. Then the flashes began, soon followed the thunder. Early in the night, the gap between flash and thunder was about 30 seconds. Then 20 seconds, then 10, then five, then two, until every strike was flash-bang, with no time to even count. It was fine for the first half of the night. It was pouring, but my tarp was angled against the wind, so I was faring pretty well. Then the wind shifted. And when I say shifted, I mean 180° in the opposite direction. My tarp went from a shelter to a parachute in negative two seconds. One moment I was dry, then the next I found myself sitting on the forest floor in nothing but a sleeping bag and a raincoat. The tarp was ripped off its bearings and was carried what seemed like as far as the Exumas. I scrambled to save my tarp as the lightening flashed like strobe lights. The wind picked up significantly, so much so that I was forced to compromise my shelter. I sacrificed my gear, which was already soaked, and burrito-ed myself into my tarp. For the rest of he night, I lay on the ground in the fetal position, cocooned in my tarp, cold and soggy as my sleeping bag transformed into a wet sack. The wind gusted 60mph that night. It seemed like 140mph. I persevered, though. Not once did I seek help or other people. I stayed alone for the whole storm, shivering but proving to myself I could be independent. I woke up the next morning and saw the sun pierce through the clouds and began laughing. Laughing because I had made it through the night. Laughing because it was over.

Jarrett Young

The thing I really loved about expeditions was stepping out of my comfort zone. Almost everything we do here is completely new to me. I really love that I have learned to comfortably adapt to the water activities we do here. I was psyched to complete my swim test a couple of days before our 9-day sail trip, and I didn’t notice until now, but I went through the whole expedition without getting seasick. Working the foresail sheet had to be my favorite role on the boat, but during the night on anchor watch, all kinds of memories came to me. My father and I used to savor the moments of catching the moon and a handful of stars through his binoculars. During anchor watch, all I did was lie on my back, observing the millions and millions of specs above me. I will miss the nights.