Monthly Archives: August 2015

In Their Own Words

On Day 3, for a mid-week check-in, we asked the students to respond to 3 questions.  Here are a few of their responses …

What has been your favorite thing?

“All of us got to jump off of the dock after an amazing day of snorkeling”
-Charlotte W.

“My favorite experience was when I was diving through the cut and I saw a close up with 3 sting rays”
-Peter G.


“My favorite thing so far has been ‘girl bonding time.’ It’s a time where we share stories and the highs and lows of our days. It’s a time where although I know them I get to know them a bit better. Also, it’s SUPER cool that I am in the BAHAMAS with my best friends making the best memories ever!”
-Marcella F.

“My favorite moment was floating down the lazy river with the snorkel gear and seeing the rays. I have never been so close to a ray in a natural habitat.”
-Reece C.

“We went to The Saddle and the big dredged hole and we were able to dive down and we had a lot of freedom to explore.”
-Colin G.


How have you pushed yourself or challenged yourself while you have been here?

“I challenged myself when we went to the coral reef, because I didn’t think I would be comfortable enough to explore the fish, but I did and had lots of fun.”
-Katie S.


“I snorkeled in really deep water for the first time at the Saddle. I’ve never snorkeled (or swam) in water deeper than 40 feet, but I found it was REALLY cool snorkeling in 100 feet of water.”
-Tyler D.

“I challenged myself by getting up at 5:50 AM! I’m not usually a morning person.”
-Kate R.


“My most challenging moment was learning how to fillet a fish, because that’s not my favorite kind of thing, but I did it.”
-Malcolm S.

What has surprised you?

“The fact that all the fresh water on campus comes from rain water is really great. How amaze-beans is that?!?!”
-Lilly B.

“The biggest surprise was how little waste they have and how sustainable they are on the island.”
-Bryn T.



“I was surprised about how much we do and especially learn in a day. I didn’t know we could fit so much in!”
-Sophia C.

At the end of Day 5, just before an evening program showing of Finding Nemo, the students reflected on the trip by responding to the following prompt:  “You are writing a letter to 7th graders.  What would you tell them?  Feel free to add your own trip hashtags at the end of your letter.”  Below are excerpts from some of their responses.

Dear 7th grade students,
You will love the Island School trip because …

“… you get pushed out of your comfort zone but in so many good ways that you’ll realize what really makes you happy, and, more importantly, who makes you happy.  #thatsharksnotassmallasyouthink”
– Nora C.

“… the everything.  The snorkeing, the swimming, the fish, the sun, the beach, and the friendship.  #liveinthemoment”
– Pickle E.


“… we snorkle coral reefs, we float the cut, we live together, we bond, we learn about conservation, we’re off the grid, we explore, the water is rainwater, the food is great, you learn responsibility.  #bahamaland”
– Bey G.

“… if you’re an acitve person it is the perfect place. There is fun in the water: snorkeling, freediving, boat trips, running, and swimming.  If you’re a nature person there are nature walks and swimming with fish and mangroves.  #bugsarebullies”
– Charlie M.


“… first, you get to experience one of the most beautiful places ever.  You get to go outside of your comfort zone and do so many exciting things.  You can trust people by telling them what you are afraid of and get so much support back.  #dontdropyourgoproin100feetdeepwater  #fun  #peaceful”
– Ellen N.

“… you will get so much closer with your classmates and have special memories.  You will take risks and do things you have never done before.  You will challenge yourself and discover new things about yourself that you never knew.  You will have so many fun and exciting experiences. #aintnomountainhighenough
– Katie S.

“… the snorkeling expeditions that you will go on are phenomenal.  Be sure to go slow and keep your eyes peeled for fish!  The crew from the Island School is awesome.  They will truly show you what it means to be sustainable. #beyourself  #livesustainably”
– Jeb H.


“… you see lots of fish, coral, TURTLES, SHARKS, and you get to eat lionfish (very, very tasty). You go to “the cage” and see the mangroves.  Also, you get to dissect fish and lionfish.  You learn so many skills to bring home.  #hugemoths  #tinysharks”
– Dani A.

“… this place opens your eyes to how you can help save local and worldwide ecosystems.  The sense of community in this special place unites a large majority of your class and strengthens and creates new relationships through teamwork and activities.  Many peers with whom I have talked about the trip described it a, ‘life changing’ and ‘the best week of my life.’  I hope you all have fun.”
– Walker M.


“… the snorkeling you do is amazing and you get to see a lot of epic stuff that you wouldn’t see back in MA.  #dontforgetyourwaterbottle”
– Ryan H.

“… everything about this place is amazing!  Even the morning exercises I dreaded turned out to be some of the most fun things I’ve ever done.  In school, you think so many times that you won’t apply things that you learn in school to life in general.  However, here at the Island School you will apply everything you learn in about an hour and the whole time while learning, while applying, and while experimenting. You will have the most fun you’ve ever had.  So step out of your comfort zone and join your classmates in a trip to the Island School.”
– Kishan P.


What a trip!

Day 6 – Down Island Trip

On Day 6, we drove almost the entirety of Eleuthera’s 100 mile length.  Our first stop was a bakery, followed by a stop at the Glass Window Bridge.  This was once a natural bridge (now a constructed bridge) that spans a small spot where the shallow waters of Exuma Sound meet the deep, dark waters of the Southern Atlantic.  From the top of the cliff we watched yet another shark and sea turtle float on by – Brookwood seems to have some good ocean creature karma!

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Next, it was on to an old Club Med beach, full of pink sands made of parrotfish poo.  🙂  We all could have stayed there … well, forever.  Maybe it really is better in the Bahamas …

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On our way back to school for packing and deep cleaning, we had to take the opportunity to jump off of one more high cliff into Eleuthera’s waters.  These are just a few shots of us jumping into Rock Sound’s Ocean Hole, a 600 foot deep body of water connected to the ocean through underground passages.  Just prior to these photos, while traveling in the vans, we experienced the ONLY rain storm and grey skies of the entire trip.

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To finish off our final day, we sat around a campfire, and dined on Island School s’mores.  With no graham crackers on island, our marshmallows were sandwiched between 2 chocolate chip cookies.  Yum!

Day 5 – Lionfish, sharks, and sea turtles, oh my!

Good evening parents! It was a great science and nature day here in the Bahamas.

Our day began with an invigorating leap from High Rock. Check out these fearless kids!

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After breakfast the kids were treated to a lecture about lionfish by one of Cape Eleuthera Institute’s resident scientists, Alanna.  Lionfish are an invasive species in this part of the world and they are wreaking havoc on coral reef ecosystems all throughout the Atlantic. Originally from the Indo-Pacific, lionfish were accidentally introduced to the Southern Atlantic in the late 1980’s. Since that time, they have proliferated up the Southeastern and Northeastern coasts of the United States as well as the Caribbean Sea. They are fierce predators with large appetites…they will eat anything that fits in their huge mouths! They can also reproduce every 2 – 3 days and produce up to 30,000 eggs each time they reproduce! Check out this link to view an animated map of the ionfish invasion (

After learning about lionfish the kids had a chance to dissect some specimens with the help from CEI lionfish researchers and interns.  After their venomous spines were removed, the students investigated their stomach contents, measured their mouth gape height and width, dissected an eye to remove the lens, and found the otolith – an ear bone used to age the fish.

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After lunch the kids boarded the Cobia for a trip out to the Aquaculture Cage. The kids loved snorkeling in the deep blue water and checking out the schools of Spade Fish, Horse-Eyed Jacks, and Yellowtail Snapper. We were even treated to Grouper sightings and three reef sharks!

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Post dinner we enjoyed watching Finding Nemo and were lucky enough to receive Island School Bracelets from Reece to commemorate our trip together.

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Tomorrow, it’s a down island trip!


Day 4 – The Best Longest Day

Hello Parents!

Your kids have had a fantastic day here in the Bahamas.  We woke for a challenging and infamous morning exercise known as the “run-swim.”  It is a series of 7-8 100 yard swims alternating with 7-8 100 yard runs.  There was even a 15 foot cliff jump in the middle to keep spirits high.  While nervous at the start, the students all finished strong and as a team.  Check out their efforts below!

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After breakfast and dish crew we hopped aboard the Cobia for a trip out to the Sandbar.  There, we received a lesson in ocean chemistry and sand grain formation.  Ask your kids how ooids are made!  Following our lesson, we were free to snorkel around the sandbar and pick up a few invertebrate souvenirs. We apologize if some of the pictures are blurry, there was sunscreen on the lens.

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For the afternoon activities, we traveled back to the coral reefs and mangroves.



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We had a special treat for dinner: out to Sharil’s, a local spot, for dinner of lionfish, ribs, fried chicken, fries, and mac & cheese!  Yum!

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It was a long day in the sun, so we are signing off for the night.  Looking forward to a beautiful tomorrow!