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Student Update

HIOBS Update #2

This morning the crews of the Avelinda and the Eliza Sue woke up to another beautiful sunrise in the Exuma Cays. After 6 days of sailing, snorkeling, island and cave exploring, and taking in the beautiful views of crystal clear blue water of the Exumas, we find ourselves anchored at O'Brien's Cay. Today we're refilling our water jugs thanks to the generosity of Sandy MacTaggert on Soldier Cay, and our research teams will finally be able to put their skills to use at a snorkel site called "Sea Aquarium."  We're looking forward to conducting more research in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park (the oldest marine protected area in The Bahamas) over the next few days and continuing to explore the islands over the next 11 days. See below for some daily journal entries from the group!
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Nov 9: Day 2 - Eliza Sue
Crossing the Sound Part 1: The Exumas Strike Back
We've made it to...well its a "U-shaped island thing" exclaimed Hannah as we sailed into harbor amongst the Exumas. About 85% of the boat watched Andrew fillet a bar jack as the other 15%  managed to weave us through deep, deep, treacherous waves and reefs. Grant was coughing (about to puke?), Kyle was still steering after 4 hours of bring stuck at the tiller, Tom was somewhere in the dark depths of the head, and Hannah was resisting the urge to sing songs about hippos as we finally dropped anchor. We had woken up at midnight, learned about stars, invented a blue sail formation, got concerned about the possibility of trump being president, laughed about the idea of Trump being President, then realized the joke was on us and Trump was going to be president.
Crossing the Sound Part 2: Revenge of the Bar Jack
Got concerned again, eventually saw land, fished and caught nothing, fished and caught something, arrived at anchor, ate our fish (shoutout to our cooks Marcus and Jacob), swam, swam with iguanas, found crafty new spoons (shells), then began dinner prep.
Crossing the Sound Part 3: A Donald's New Hope
We laughed together, we slept together in a PG sort of way, we excelled together. Tom ate cheese and maybe almost liked it, Kyle rocked his aviators and put everyone else on board to shame, Ben wore her superman hat like all experienced sailors do, Kelly didn't get spit on by Tom and successfully answered a barrage of consecutive questions about her gopro attachment lens. Jacob continued to do as Jack Sparrow does and made the power move of not swimming (he knew the poop was coming
#avelindaspoopincidentwasaninsidejob).
PS: Today was actually the day Donald Trump became president. Thank god we're in a protected area because he's building a wall and the parrotfish are paying for it.
PPS: Today was absolutely epic- one of the most memorable days of my life, and I'm glad I got to spend it with the young motley crew of the Eliza Sue.
Peace, Love, and Quesadilla Cheese,
Jeff the Cleaner
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Nov 12 - Day 5 - Avelinda
8:30am, beautiful morning... 6:00am wakeup call for swimming lessons with Andrew and then pancakes and dessert rice for breakfast made by Jack & Jack. The boat smells of salty citrus and I love it.
8:30pm, enjoying a long anchor watch and remembering the great day we had... Exploring a rocky cave and getting in a short snorkel, "hiking" around a few ruins and adventuring through a poisonwood infested swamp to a beautiful beach (with just a bit of washed up trash scattered around (Andrew found a gopro from the Island School).  It was an eventful day topped off with Jack and Jack's calzones, which were delicious of course. Looking forward to more adventures tomorrow!
-Kali
Nov 13 - Day 6 - Eliza Sue
Part 1: The Tomcat Begins
This morning our fearless leader Tom bid the masses to rise and enter the water. The crew swam in somewhat of an organized circle for about half an hour. After the swim the group demolished part of a ration of cereal before setting off.
Part 2: The Tomcat Rises
We set off on our day, Tom steering and me at the bow watch. The trip began with me promptly getting us stuck on a sandbar and Ben getting stuck in the head yet again. She then fulfilled her quota of pushups on one arm by pumping the head for half an hour. Get swole Ben.
Part 3: The Plague
After sitting on the bow for approximately 5 hours I returned to seeing half the crew suffering from swine flu which was transferred from the ocean waves that hit Jacob, who then infected Grant, who then infected Marcus. So it goes. Marcus then orally donated his daily ration of food into the ocean. The ocean is used to, but not fond of such gifts.
Part 4: questionable
Marcus cooks after yacking hours before...questionable. A red-faced Tomcat swears he applied sunscreen...also questionable. Jeff completes his pushups as Jacob explains his very questionable driving habits, extremely questionable. Dinner is close to being made, will we eat it all? Not a question.
- Kyle
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Nov 14 - Day 7 - Avelinda
The Journey So Far
Our journey began on November 8 with loading the Avelinda and Eliza Sue and preparing our groups for an 18-day expedition. Not knowing what to anticipate, we grabbed our oars and rowed away from The Island School. Over the course of the first day on the boats we learned how to rig and hoist our fore and main sails, read the wind, understand the tides, organize and take care of the boat, steer and rescue "Bob" our frequently overboard fender. Cooking on the boats posed a new challenge with our food stored throughout the bilge underneath us and our only stove located in the stern of the boat. With this challenge came delicious meals from night 1. After anchoring off the whale tail of Eleuthera we had our first of nightly stargazing and celestial navigation lessons led by Sockeye. After, we set up the boards and fell into a fitful 2 hours of sleep in preparation for our crossing of the Exuma sound. We sailed throughout the night giving us time to get to know our instructor Sockeye as well as admiring the stars and watching the glowing plankton light up the water as we sailed. This magical night sail was the perfect beginning to our expedition. After the first day on the boat we settled into a routine starting with a daily 6am wake up call followed by a morning swim workout and breakfast. Every day we rinse and sanitize the boat, make a navigation plan considering wind, tides, and bearings, and create a plan for the day. In the past week we have swam with stingrays, rowed through a mangrove creek, snorkeled reefs and a plane wreck, and explored countless islands of the Exuma Cays with breathtaking white sand beaches.
With our instructors' extensive knowledge of marine science, sailing, and boat living, and overall guidance on important life skills such as self reliance, leadership, and compassion, we sail into our final 11 days of expedition. We are excited about taking full advantage of everything the Exuma Cays has to offer, most importantly our fish and coral research which is part of an ongoing coral reef monitoring project in The Bahamas.

Reflections from the semester: Kyra Hall

Friends, Family, and Alumni, The Fall 2016 semester is flying by. Because we’ve been so busy, it feels like only a few short weeks ago that we were unpacking our things and circling around the flag pole for the first time, but it only takes me realizing all that we’ve explored and accomplished over these past 70 days to realize just how long we’ve been here.

Time is definitely a challenging concept here. We often say, “Every day feels like a month and every month feels like a day,” simply because of how fast everything moves, but also acknowledging all that happens in one day. The way that I’ve learned to define time here is by the friendships and incredible connections that grow on a daily basis. The Island School is a really special place in that you are constantly surrounded by interesting, kind, and extremely supportive individuals that care so much about your own personal success. The friendships that I have created here with my peers are indescribable and so cherished, but my valued relationships aren’t limited to students. I find myself having a new, thoughtful conversation with a new member of faculty, a member of CEI, or a hardworking individual from the farm just as often as I do with my close peers. Both types of relationships are easily attainable and immensely valued by all of the students here. The community and connections that I have established here are two of the main reasons that I have become so attached to this place I now call home.

Kyra leads the pack back into boathouse cut

These wonderful connections only deepened and expanded over our three-week Expedition period. As we were split up into four different Kayak or Sail groups, people were worried about leaving their beloved routine and friends for three weeks, but little did we know all that was ahead of us. I embarked on a 9-Day Kayak trip the first week of Expeditions and was really excited about the bonding of my group, the friendships I’d be able to deepen, the solo experience, and all of the adventures we had ahead. I knew it was going to be both a challenging and rewarding week, but what I didn’t understand was how happy I would be when I’d return nine days later.

Solo fell towards the beginning of my kayak trip and I couldn’t be happier that it had. The exciting 48-hour experience that all Island School students think about when they apply had finally arrived and it was more emotional than I’d anticipated. While leaving one of my best friends at the very beginning, we both broke down into tears, not from sadness, but from feeling so much excitement and anticipation all at once. Once I had settled into my spot and looked out at the beautiful beach and ocean in front of me, the tears immediately ceased. Where I was and the incredible opportunity that was lying in front of me instantly made me so appreciative. During my solo, I was forced to live in the moment, taking the experience minute by minute. I was so content for the duration of my solo as I was able to reflect, write several pages in my placebook, and recharge. Coming back together with my group afterwards was one of the happiest moments I’ve felt here and it enabled us to have finish our last 5 days on a really high note.

Kyra's kayak group after returning to campus

As we kayaked back to campus the morning of Day 9, many of the faculty and students were out on the jetty cheering us on as we finished our final stretch. Seeing campus and the community we had missed so much filled our boats and bodies with pure excitement. As we reunited with the rest of the groups, the dorms and dining hall were full of nothing but stories and happy spirit. This energy carried over onto our Down Island Trip that followed. Exploring the island as a unit as we discovered the several impacts of tourism on this country was really interesting, eye-opening and our group was just overall excited to be back together for another 5 days.

All 50 of us are back on campus now, finding ourselves back into a pretty steady academic routine. As well as coming back together as a community, it’s crunch time for our research classes, we’re preparing for our art show, and our respective run and swim tracks are reaching our max-workouts before the 4-mile swim and half marathon. Campus is buzzing as we begin to prepare for Parents Weekend. We’re all very excited to welcome our parents to campus and share all that we’ve learned in just a few short days.

Kyra Hall

FA ‘16

The Island School prepares for Hurricane Matthew

To Island School and CEI family and friends,
 
Today we continue to monitor and prepare for hurricane Matthew. Our campus leadership team met this morning to finalize plans for the week, which include assigning people and resources to designated buildings so everyone can shelter in place as the storm moves north.
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As is customary, we have been watching this and the other storms of the season, and have stocks of food and water, medical supplies and equipment in place, and are ready to respond to needs in the wider community if we are called upon. We are carefully monitoring the forecasts of the storm track and intensity, as well as tides and storm surge projections, and have made higher ground or second floor sleeping arrangements on campus for employees and students as a precaution, according to our established hurricane protocols. This is a powerful storm with high winds and rainfall expected, and storm surge possible, and out of an abundance of caution, we are taking all reasonable measures.
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During and after past storms regular internet, phone, and utility power services are interrupted, and we have backup power and communications systems in place. We expect that our Boston-based team will receiving updates from campus throughout, and posting them to our Facebook page and here to the blog.
To reach our team about specific concerns please email us at info@islandschool.org or call our US office number at (609) 620-6700
We appreciate all of the well-wishes and good energy people have been sending to us.  Please look for more updates daily here.
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Island School alumni become Shark Explorers

Shark Explorers is a Cape Town based diving company that focus on changing people's perspectives on the oceans' top predators. Each year we bring in four Island School alumni to become part of our team. We continue to build on the love for ocean life, that was gained while in The Bahamas.  The internship program is based on the idea of "Education Through Experience." The core values and tools that the Island School gives young people to thrive in Eleuthera, are the same values that allow for our interns to openly welcome the adventure and experience of the Shark Explorers Internship Program in Africa.  The 21 day program, held in August is full of scuba diving in and around the kelp forest and working as a crew member on the Great White Shark cage diving boat. We organize multiple excursions all over Cape Town to take in the sights and sounds of this amazing corner of the globe. For example, one day is spent on a game drive to see the big five land based animals of Africa.  The program also includes getting involved with ongoing research as well as supporting some of the top shark scientists and NGOs. The Shark Explorers Internship strives to be the next stepping stone for those of you that have been inspired by what the Island school has to offer and are enthusiastic to learn more about the ocean. It's has been nothing short of a pleasure to host our 2016 interns and we can't wait to take on four more alumni for our 2017 program.  

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Take a look at what they had to say about the program:

"Even though this internship’s three short weeks are dwarfed by the incredible three months students were given at The Island School, we interns have enjoyed days jam-packed with just as much adventure as you’d expect from a day in the Bahamas. The Cape Peninsula and Cape Eleuthera may not have many similarities that are readily apparent, but working here at Shark Explorers has felt like a perfect extension of our semesters thousands of miles  away. We’re living right by the ocean, in a small town on a peninsula, as part of a close-knit community of people who are incredibly excited about what they’re doing down here. Sound familiar? Brocq Maxey and the rest of the Shark Explorers team have made this a fantastic three weeks, and we’re excited to share what we’ve been up to with everyone!"

-- Harrison Rohrer  (F '13)

"After doing our open water certification in 28 ˚ C water at the Island School, it was a difficult adjustment to dive in 14 ˚ C water. We encountered a few species of sharks endemic to this region while diving: the Pyjama shark, the Catshark, the Dark shyshark, and the Puffadder shyshark. My favorite dive was a shore dive off the off of Simons Town and in just a few meters of crystal clear water through the kelp forest. Another awesome dive we did was at the pinnacles and we gained experience dealing with surface currents, poor visibility and depth. We also did a few dives with Cape fur seals, which were a lot of fun, and on the last night we did a night dive."

-- Dana Biddle (SP '13)

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For me, the most exciting part about working with Shark Explorers was serving as a crew member on the White Shark cage diving boat and helping out with research done by the Shark Spotters organization.  Everyday, Shark Explorers runs a morning trip and an afternoon trip for tourists who want to see great whites in action.  The morning trip would leave the dock around 6:30 AM so we would be able to watch sharks feed on seals in the early morning light.  By watching the tactics these sharks used to hunt seals, it is easy to see how truly spectacular these animals are.

-- George Crawford (SP  '13)

While we were blessed to have great weather on most days we did have a few days where we could not go out on the water. One of these bad weather days we spent driving 3 hours away to go on a game drive. We saw hippos, elephants, giraffes, lions, chetahs, alligators, rhino and my favorite, zebras! This was a very unique experience because it allowed us to see not only another part of South Africa but it gave us the opportunity to learn more about the animals' roles in African society.

-- Olivia Wigon (SP '14)

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Please contact Brocq Maxey for more info at:

E-mail: brocq@sharkexplorers.com

Instagram: @brocqmaxey @shark_explorers

www.sharkexplorers.com 

 

Lily Bermel, S'16, awarded Prestigious Congressional Award!

Lily picks up trash during a beach clean-up on Eleuthera

Lily Bermel, from Brookline, Massachusetts, was awarded the highest national award any teenager could receive, the Congressional Award. The award is given to less than 300 teenagers who have achieved over 1,000 volunteer hours. She set her focus areas in Volunteer Public Service, Personal Development, Physical Fitness and Expedition/Exploration.  Lily continues The Island School's mentality of leadership affecting change by joining her town's Climate Action Committee as a student representative.
Congratulations, Lily! We are so proud to have you in our alumni community!
For more about Lily's award, please click here