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.
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.
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.