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.