"Breathtaking Oceans, Cramped Dorms and Incredible Heat" by Griffin Hunt, Ihna Mangundayao, Jamie Perritt, Benjamin Beardsley, Katie Tapper

Over the past two days, 31 students have arrived from all over the world to meet breathtaking oceans, cramped dorms and incredible heat. Even though we all experienced the same oceans and similar views, no person’s experience of the past few days has been remotely comparable. Even as a small group of five, we were unable to come up with one single experience in which we all shared the same complex emotions– from jumping into the water for the first time and seeing a nurse shark on our casual 7am snorkel to the feeding frenzy in the pig pen to pretending to know the Bahamian national anthem as we joined around the flag pole as the sun rose.  Even though we were partaking in the same activities, each one meant something different to each of us.  Spending our first night in the dorm, shared with 6 or more other people, caused thoughts from home, fears of the weeks that lie ahead, and excitement for the unknown to race through our heads. Each of our fleeting thoughts faded into another, leaving us wide-awake in the middle of a pitch-black dorm room.

"Moments to Remember"

by Katie Harpin, John Morris, Emily Peters, Simon Muack

Standing on top of the dock, feeling the sun on my back waiting to take the plunge. As I’m in the air it comes to me that I’m actually going to school here for the next four months. It’s an unreal feeling when you break the water, expecting a cold rush but feeling nothing but bath water. I watched the other girls jump in the water after me, laughing and smiling, acting as if we have been best friend for a lifetime. The saltwater sprays in my eyes as the others jump, but I don’t want to close my eyes and miss any of this. Looking out onto the endless blue makes me want to swim barely visibly islands out in the distance. This was the first amazing experience of many to come in the next three months.

The night was completely dark save for the twinkling stars and the long streaking Milky Way going across the entire sky. Soft rustling in the crowded underbrush would indicate as to where these scuttling crustaceans were. The hunt began with a handful of us piling out of our van onto a dark side road. Our expert crabbing leader, Joseph, gave us a brief explanation of what to listen for and then darted off into the side brush only to reappear an hour later with over a dozen crabs. Five other students and I then began searching with our headlamps for any movement. After very limited noise and crabs, I heard Griffin yell, “What do I do? What do I do?” while running around frantically. After a short chase, he finally accomplished catching the crab by stepping on its back. He caught our group’s first crab! He picked the angry crab up by its two massive pinchers and gave it a slight toss into our bucket. The red eyes stared at us in defeat. Our first night here and we had caught our first crab! The next few months are going to be an experience of a lifetime.

"Getting Here"

By Anabelle Florio, Grace Fowler, Connor Sullivan, Marius Udnaes, Jane Drinkard

4:30 am and there were already 4 Island School goers, dazed and dreary, at JFK. We boarded the first plane and found each other once again at Nassau airport. The next plane was small and bumpy as we passed through clouds and looked down upon shimmering green water. The drive to the island school opened our eyes to the native Bahamians on the island. We couldn’t help but notice the friendly atmosphere while seeing Bahamians wave and smile at us, people they had never met and to one another. Driving on the left-hand-side of the road we caught glimpses of the beautiful water and before we knew it we had arrived at our new home. We were greeted by a couple of girls with hellos and offerings to help us with our heavy bags. Many students had already been here a couple of days and showed us around and let us in on what they had been up to the past couple days. We listened as we heard stories about the first morning exercise.

They arose at 6 amand braved the clear waters to snorkel. While exploring a shipwreck nearby, they spotted a shark nestled in a hole. It was Connor’s first time snorkeling and he was surprised by seeing stingrays, lobsters and a colorful array of other marine life. That night brought another experience, crabbing. “You have to listen to them,” Mooch advised us. This proved to be the most strategic approach when catching these creepy crawlers. They drove down a dark abandoned road and spontaneously decided to stop there. Jack spotted a black crab, scuttling through the brush, and charged the crab. Jack stepped on the crab, enabling it to escape. Marius was right there to pick it up, careful not to be pinched by those massive claws. By the end of the night they had accumulated about 2 dozen crabs. With new faces arriving daily, we’re excited for everyone to get here and to begin the real adventure!

“Four Perspectives on Arrival”

As I stepped off the van, a wave of emotion washed over me.  I was nervous, partly.  I had arrived a day later than everybody else and after I rushed to put my bags away, I walked into the meal room.  The students were chatting like they were the best of friends and I hadn’t even learned any names yet, but then the combination of warm sun and cool island breeze immediately put me at ease.  After introducing myself, I headed back to the dorm with the other boys, and in three hours time I felt right at home.

Driving down the road to theIslandSchool, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. What have I gotten myself into? I thought. Thousands of miles from home, a place I had never been before, no one I knew, and living in this place for 14 whole weeks. Clearly I was crazy for deciding to attend. But soon another emotion bubbled up. Excitement. Excitement about the same exact reason I was nervous. Being away from home, discovering a new place, meeting new people and staying here for 14 whole weeks, when we finally arrived after an half an hour car ride I was ready and pumped to experience The Island School.

Ellen Eberhardt

Sitting in the back of the jeep drove by Teschna Christie, I slowly began to visualize theIslandSchool. When the entrance came into view, thoughts of my time here for three and a half months and multiple “what ifs” invaded my thoughts. I thought, “What if I can’t handle this” or “What if I manage to get myself sent home.” Generally, feelings of self doubt affected me most causing me to shy away from the larger group of students. In spite of my efforts of playing ‘the shy guy,’ each person I saw greeted me with a welcoming smile and words of encouragement which slowly quelled my anxiousness and self doubting. Of course I felt out of place also, seeing everyone here working on their individual tasks, but with my newfound sense of comfort I began to find my place here.

William Sturrup

That first moment of when the IslandSchoolcame into view I felt only one thing, excitement, pure excitement for my life’s next big adventure.  As we pulled around and the entire campus came into scene a rush of adrenaline shot through my body and I could not wait to see this beautiful island and all of splendor. Lastly when I took that first step onto the grounds of my new home I felt one small twinge of worry for my future on the island but was quickly replaced by the excitement of the knowledge that this is going to be an amazing adventure and one of the best times of my life. Jack Foote

I woke up at 6:00, wondering why I was sleeping on top of a bunkbed, and why there were five other people yawning around me. Before we even went to get breakfast, all of us filed down to the flagpole with our snorkels and swim fins, curious and excited to start our first day at Island School. After we mumbled the Bahamian national anthem to an unfamiliar tune, we made our way to boy's dorm beach, groggy but enthusiastic. A quick tutorial on cleaning our snorkle masks with toothpaste, and I slipped on my fins and dove into the warm water. The first plunge was salty and refreshing, and did a better job of waking me up than the morning alarm. I followed the group out to a nearby wreck near the shore, to be greeted by a spiny black brittle star that crawled along my hand. Soon enough, I heard Chris Maxey shout "Hey guys! Over here! There's a nurse shark in between two of the wood boards!" It was incredible to think that on our first morning snorkle, only about thirty feet from the shore, we could see a full grown nurse shark within arm's reach. I might have been feeling homesick the previous night, but this first experience helped convince me that my term here was going to be unforgettable. Then it was time for breakfast...

Carter, James, Annie Bryan, Tyler, Anika

“Day 2”

by Maddy Philipp, A.J. Wethereald, Charlie Sandor, Zeke tuszynski

Goodbye Technology:

At the Nassau Airport during our last layover, we soon realized we all had WiFi. The seven of us waiting for a plane decided to take one last glance of our home lives. As soon as we arrived at Rock Sound Airport Ashley was waiting with a brown paper bag in her hands. As we walked closer we found out that the bag was not her lunch, but it was full of small plastic bags with our names on them. She immediately asked for our cell phones and we all said our sad goodbyes to our precious cell phones. We realized with in the hour that they really would have been more of a hassle then a luxury.

First Impressions:

Driving up the first thing everyone noticed was the glistening turquoise ocean. Soon after we unpacked in our dorms we realized how hot The Bahamas really are. Our first thought was to jump into the clear waters to explore our new home.

In the dorms we quickly realized how much we had in common with other students. It was like we had known each other throughout our childhoods. Instantly we all felt welcome and began bonding by sitting on our floor in a circle. We all talked about where we came from and our lives before The Island School.

The first day at the school, we woke up eager to explore our new home. We dove right in and got down to business with classes. Human Ecology was first on our schedule. We quickly learned how different and fun the classroom life was. When we were learning about our subject it was like we were figuring it out for ourselves instead of being told the answers.

Over all our first few days here have been a relief from normal back to school stress. It has been extremely interesting to see the plentiful amounts of exotic creatures around our campus. All of us are eager to see what comes next in our last 97 days at The Island School.

“First Days”

By Samantha Saccomanno, Annie Blanc, Brendan McDonnell, and Brian Higgs

Looking at the 10 windowed plane and climbing the stairs, it finally hits you. You’re starting a completely new chapter in your life. Looking down onto the crystal clear ocean, emotions are running wild in your mind. Excitement, nervousness, and even anxiety. The first morning came up suddenly. We woke up at a leisurely 6 amto an ocean sunrise and started frantically getting ready for our morning exercise-snorkeling to a wreck. Starfish, hundreds of conch, and a nurse shark were just a few of the exciting things we saw. A sea cucumber decided to pee on us, making everybody burst into laughter! Later on, we were better acquainted with our surroundings during an Intro to Human Ecology scavenger hunt. We discovered theIslandSchoolfarm, resource center, and the CEI research facility. A game of water polo wrapped up the class! Our day ended with a night excursion of CRABBIING!!! Our flashlights shone through the bush to illuminate massive black land-crabs, our dinner for the nights to come. After a long day filled with adventures and bonding with our peers, we lay in bed taking in all our new experiences (and realizing how big a part air conditioning played in our lives).

*note: Reflections were written yesterday afternoon by Island School Students who had already arrived.  We were joined by more students last night, and today, who you will not see reflections from. Our apologies.