Over the next couple of days we will be featuring short narratives written by each of our forty-nine new students in the spring 2012 class. Enjoy these personal, inspirational, exciting, and sometimes surprising glimpses into what its like to be an Island School student, week 1. Amelia Patsalos-Fox: Originally preparing to come to the island school, I was under the impression that giving up my cell phone, Facebook, and all other plugged in devices would be extremely challenging for me. In fact, though I still find myself out of habit, reaching for my telephone, this part of the experience has been the most fulfilling yet. As my Human Ecology class sat up on the deck tonight, examining the beautiful Caribbean stars, someone pointed out that the simple difference between a star and a planet is that stars twinkle and planets do not. The utter amazement in the faces of all my peers caught my attention. I started to think about why each and every person was able to take that simple fact and truly absorb and recognize the value of it. The conclusion I came to was that we were each able to do this because not one person had their cell phone out, checking Facebook. Not one person needed to communicate with a friend to talk about a spot to meet, or the latest piece of gossip. There was no materialism attached to our session on the roof and without the plug in and utter distraction of the plugged in Internet and outside world, each of us was able to appreciate and ponder the tiniest fact, which we will continue to do as we proceed through the next three months.

Felipe Gomez: When I heard I was in the dish crew, I was very disappointed. We got all the plates together and started preparing the food for everyone. As everyone waited for their meal we worked to make it available with another advisee group. Finally we called everyone in to begin the meal. Even though the dish crew eats first and has first seconds, all I could think of throughout the meal was washing all the dirty dishes. Finally the time had come, I had finished my meal and I started walking back to the kitchen to wait for everyone to finish. At first it was just another advisee and me waiting for the dirty dishes, but soon after the rest of the advisees came in, and everyone began to help. The job was still reproachable nevertheless we had to do it. Anyway soon more and more people began helping and soon after this terrible job became a party.  I remember Michael (one of the teachers) brought speakers, and soon we all started working as a team. This normal two-hour job became a fifteen minute long party for me. Washing dishes used to be a serious struggle for me but now this all changed. I never thought washing dishes could be such a bonding activity.

Mac McDonald: Today, as we were taking tour around the facilities, we met an inspiring man named Marco. Marco is originally from The Bahamas and has grown up living here as well. He grew up with small dreams, not expecting much, but since he was hired to work as a facility manager for The Island School, his life has taken a drastic turn. “I am now one of the only Bahamians making Bio-diesel,” Marco proclaimed with a gold-toothed smile. He preached to the group about how it’s important to have more then one dream and to always stay positive. Marco said how he only surrounds himself with positive people, and does not affiliate with negative people, mentioning the fact that the people who surround you correlate to who you are. Our group was not expecting to run across a man like Marco, but soon after a personable and heartening talk, we all were glad that we did, and looking forward to talking to him some more.

Will Gold: This morning some new friends woke me up before the morning swim at 5:45 to work out before we had circle at six.  I was at first against this idea but decided I would give it a shot to try and make the best of the island experience.  When they woke me up and we began I realized the exercises were not the ones that I was interested in doing. I went down to the beach by myself to begin doing sprint workouts.  The mourning sand was cool on my bare feet and the sun was just beginning to rise.  I started out with warm ups that were made much difficult by the loose sand. It sprayed and danced at my feet as I tried to perform the movements with the correct form that I have done at Helena High so many times.  When I moved into my agility drills I felt like I was a beginner as the sand gave away.  My once explosive lateral jumps now were meek and sloppy in the hindering sand.   When I did push-ups with my hands in the ocean my rhythm correlated with waves so I did not get splashed.  The sand gave way and then the ocean would push more on top as I would slowly sink.  I think this is a great challenge and the balance between the energy the beach brings in the mourning greatly outweighs the challenges it poses.

Abby Anderson: On our first morning at Island School, students arrived to circle excited to begin the semester and most immediately, snorkel off boys dorm beach. None of us knew what to expect from the day or the semester, but I felt anticipation in the air. One element of circle at The Island School is singing the Bahamian National Anthem. The faculty handed out sheets of paper with the words on them and we began singing. Only the staff and few Bahamian students knew the words, however I appreciated the fact that everyone made an effort to be involved in this aspect of our community. We messed up the tune and many of us sang off key, however, for many students, including myself, this was one of my first immersions into Bahamian culture. We still have a lot of room for improvement and I feel confident by the end of the semester we will at least have the tune and the words down. This moment did not stick with me because of any skill new students displayed, but because we all attempted to join The Island School community despite the fact that we did not know the anthem.