Reflections from the Advisory of Nick Archibald

From left: Nick Archibald, Will Enterline, Margot Solvay and Sawyer Gouldman.

From left: Nick Archibald, Will Enterline, Margot Solvay and Sawyer Gouldman.

Moments.

Will Enterline

At the Island School, there are so many moments that happen daily they are hard to remember, but there are some that stick with you. For me this has happened. The moment that has stayed with me. I remember the boat rocking and thrashing as the waves broke against and over the hull of the boat. We were going free diving early in the morning, and were all awake and ready for the usual morning free dive boat drive.

We arrived at Tunnel Rock a few minutes later. Excitement on our faces as we hurried to put on our gear, only to be shut down by the fact that the current was too strong and the waves were too big to dive. However, the people on the boat with me, we weren’t sad, no, we were excited! We were excited because we would get to ride the waves again. We turned the boat around in time to be hit by a monster wave that soaked us all. “AHHHHH” we all yelled as our nice warm clothes got drenched. Then I looked around to see people laughing rather than feeling sad or disappointed. We smiled, put our hands up and embraced the good. 

The moral of this memory is that, at the Island School, plans don’t always stick, but it is from these changes in plans that memories are made. Being able to adjust and be in the moment is how you grow in this community. “Success is defined by your attitude.”

 

Margot Solvay

It was so strange to have my dad here this past weekend. While I was so happy to see him and show him my world, I felt like I could never be able to show him and have him understand the full experience I am going through here. My favorite memory from the weekend however, was on our Saturday off when I showed my dad Glass Window Bridge. We climbed the death rock cliffs for twenty minutes or so, peering over the edge at the violent waves. We climbed down under the bridge itself where I could really show him the contrast between the two oceans. Down there, the waves were much closer and larger, and they sprayed us as we tried to get as close to the water as possible without being in the splash zone. Finally, we climbed up to a ledge where we talked for close to forty minutes, finally catching up on the family members, events and big changes that affected our lives. I was able to explain to him how Island School has changed me and to share that moment with him was priceless.

 

Sawyer Gouldman

My favorite moment in the past week was during Wednesday morning free diving. There was a large group getting ready to go out, and three boats headed out to Tunnel Rock. The water was smooth and the sun had already started to rise in the East. We arrived at the dive site and jumped into the water. The reef was teeming with small fish and I dove down to the bottom and rested on my knees looking into the cracks below the ledge. I slowly rose to the surface, and I hear someone yell, “TURTLE!” I raced over to the sound. Deep below in the distance I saw the massive shadow of an ancient Loggerhead. I hovered above to regain my breath and dove down. As I got closer, I could see remoras on the turtle’s stomach. I was then only five feet away, shadowing him, amazed by the elegance of such a large creature. I felt my air run out, and had to resurface. The turtle also ran out of breath and started to rise below me. I quickly took my deep breaths, and swam down. The turtle was about 10 feet down so I swam below him. I was blown away by the underside and movements of the majestic beast. I had to resurface again, and the Loggerhead swam off into the blue.

 

 

Reflections from the Advisory of Caleb Florence

From left: Brad Stanton, Caroline Woodard, Oliver Parizeau, Katherine Kosoff and Tripp Markuson.

From left: Brad Stanton, Caroline Woodard, Oliver Parizeau, Katherine Kosoff and Tripp Markuson.

Oliver Parizeau

Morning workouts at The Island School are like a box of chocolates; you never really know what you are going to get. Every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday morning, we tend to have some really fun workouts. Tuesdays and Thursdays are track workouts; meaning that you work out with your selected group: either run track or swim track. One of the best workouts that I had here was during one of our first long track workouts. When I heard that we were going to go out 30 minutes and then come back in 30 minutes, I was stoked. I had not run more than four miles for at least four months. The run started off great; I was running 7:30 splits with the lead group. We were chugging along for a good 3 miles, until we reached the path to Deal’s Pointe. If you have never been to the Bahamas before, especially Eleuthera, you’ll know that it’s pretty flat here. The thing about the path to Deal’s Pointe is that it becomes really hilly out of nowhere. If you have ever watched WWE you know that scene where the announcer yells, “watch out, watch out, watch out, watch out!” Well, that’s what I thought in my head when I hit the path and saw all these random hills outta nowhere. That killed my run. Although these hills and random drops were hard, I persevered and toughed my way through it. In the end I managed to run just under eight miles. At home, these hills wouldn’t have been all that bad, but the intense heat of the Bahamas and the flat terrain we trained on in previous runs did not help you when you hit the hills at Deals Pointe! 

 

Caroline Woodard

Before coming to The Island School, I was dead set on running the half marathon. I had myself convinced. I run cross country at home and never had any interest in swimming. That all changed when I came here. When we tested the waters of both run and swim track, I really enjoyed run track. We watched the sun rise while we did partner sprints over the bridge. Overall, it was an incredible workout that I would have loved the opportunity to do for the next 100 days. The next morning, I remember thinking I was going to die of hyperthermia while slowly submerging myself in the coolness of the February water in Water Polo Cut. After realizing I was overreacting and it wasn’t actually that cold, we started swimming. I was instantly mesmerized by the opportunity to see all the sea life, and I actually enjoyed the swimming. I really did not see that coming. The next day came and it was time to decide whether I would stick with what was comfortable and do run track, or whether I would learn to start pushing myself and do something I knew I wasn’t good at and sign up for swim track. At the end of the day, I decided I would take a leap and do swim track. Since then, I have looked forward to having pole swims on Tuesdays and playing water polo on Fridays and all the days in between where we are just swimming laps and improving our skills. I have come a long way since the beginning and I am so thrilled for the 4-mile swim that is coming my way!

 

Katherine Kosoff

Every morning, all of Treehouse wakes up to the sound of my watch going off.  This one morning, though, everybody woke up at 5:45.  Slowly, everybody got out of bed, ready to start the day. All 53 of us met in the circle promptly at 6:00 AM, eager for what was to come. After the morning announcements, all of the runners huddled around the flagpole in preparation for the exercise ahead of us. I could almost feel the nerves and excitement of everybody as we waited for what was to come. Today was our first “super” long tracks. Two students led the group in stretches as we approached Queen’s Highway. As soon as we reached Queen’s Highway, I gave my buddy, Annie, a high five as we set our watches for an hour and a half run. I took a deep breath as Leigh said to go. As soon as we started running, my nerves from earlier disappeared.  Annie and I kept a steady pace and talked for the next nine miles. As we rounded the turn into CEI, Annie and I both gained new energy as we sprinted our way over the bridge to the flagpole.  As soon as I touched the flagpole at the end, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment. Nine miles was the longest I had ever run, and now I cannot wait for another challenge on the 13.1 mile half marathon.

 

Tripp Markuson

So when I was deciding which AMX (Morning Exercise) track I wanted to commit to, the decision was both clear and incredibly difficult to make. I came to The Island School as a huge swimmer, in love with the sport. I also came here never having run more than a mile before. It would have been easy to do swim track, where it would be a breeze, but I decided to do run track, which was incredibly difficult for me. In the beginning, I dreaded the mornings that I would have to run. But soon I began to look forward to long track days where I would be running six or seven miles. I learned to love the burn. I was amazed by how both my body and my mentality were changing. I now really love running and am going to do it when I get home. This was an amazing opportunity that AMX gave to me.

 

Brad Stanton

AMX is a special experience. To be able to wake up each morning, watch a gorgeous Bahamian sunrise and take a run or a swim with your best friends. It’s difficult to wake up early every morning, but after while it becomes easy. Mentally you know that your goal is to run a half marathon or to swim four miles. Nothing is more driving than that. And at the end of the semester, when you get out of the water or cross the finish line, you know that everything you have been working for is has been worth it. And the reward is like no other.

Antonius Roberts Artist-In-Residence: Marielle Barrow, Spring 2017

Because our mission at The Island School is to guide future leaders, we have always encouraged the use of different languages and methods to help students practice exploring with new eyes. When experienced artists join a group of willing students in living well within this place, there is a transformation. Artists help us ground ourselves, expand our thinking, and embolden our work. 

Marielle used her time here to explore, immerse, question, create, and reflect. Between research outings, art presentations, and watercolor workshops, she found ways to connect with this community.

“The fossil of the Conch seemed to me the center of this place, symbolizing that dialectic of transience and permanence, never the whole of experience, yet remaining, yet sustaining and sustained… A shell is a cloak. A cloak that protects, yet holds dear and invites. Power lies in simplicity and within these mundane traversed objects is a capacity of transference of stories, spirituality, the knowledge of rings of gnarls. And what art does offer, whether its physical manifestations are provocative or not, is the space to hide for a moment from your own feelings and allow the process to work through you.”

At the conclusion of the two week residency, Marielle unveiled her interactive and collaborative sculpture. The installation can be viewed, and contributed to, in the main reception at CEI.

Without the ability to recognize, appreciate or discuss the beauty of the organism or ecosystem we are studying, there is an opportunity to disconnect from the emotions that sparked the interest in the first place.

“We must involve every human in our journey toward scientific understanding.  Data is essential, but communicating these findings is imperative. Art is truly a universal language- one that has power to connect deeply and naturally to our emotions. It is when we experience an emotional response to the data that we care. We change. We make a difference.”  - Lisa Schmitt, Director of Arts CEIS

Originally from Trinidad, Marielle holds a postgraduate diploma in arts and cultural management and an MPhil in cultural studies from The University of the West Indies. She was a Fulbright Scholar at George Mason University and completed her PhD in Cultural Studies last year.

Former Island School parent, Amy Sackman, commemorates her son's experience

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.

Weekly Peek: The Buddy Program

Abby Wright with her DCMS buddy from Grade 7.

Abby Wright with her DCMS buddy from Grade 7.

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. 

Luke Weinstein working with his buddy, who is one of our two Early Learning Center participants.

Luke Weinstein working with his buddy, who is one of our two Early Learning Center participants.

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.

Annie McGill and Ellie Adams with their Grade 7 buddy.

Annie McGill and Ellie Adams with their Grade 7 buddy.

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.

A DCMS student helping his group design a new species of shark that would survive climate change.

A DCMS student helping his group design a new species of shark that would survive climate change.