Category Archives: 2015 Trip

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 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!

Day 3 – Sustainability and Exploring Local Ecosystems

Good evening parents!

Tonight’s blog is a photo blog!  Enjoy!

Game plan for Tuesday August 18

Singing the Bahamian National Anthem at the flagpole.

Biking to the cut for our morning exercise.

Into the water where we saw 3 stingrays!

We love these early morning workouts!

Below:  Sustainable Systems Tour and Activities!  Throughout the morning students rotated among Solar Energy, Biodiesel, and Aquaponics stations. Check out what they learned below.

Charlotte connects the lights to the charge controller on our “off the grid” system

Bey, Katie, Marcella, Ellen, Katie, and Dani show off their electrical systems knowledge

Walker starts assembling the system by connecting leads to the charge controller

Charlie, Jeb, Pickle, and Mr. Barker harvest the lettuce crop from the aquaponics system.

Charlotte, Lilly, India, and Tyler plant lettuce seeds for the aquaponics system.

Bey is ready to catch Tilapia!

CEI staff member Michael teaches the kids how to fillet a fish.

Below:  After Michael’s lesson, everyone took turns becoming filleting pros!

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Below:  All students assisted with the creation of a 1.5 liter batch of biodiesel, which involved a precise titration calculation.

What are the main ingredients for Island School biodiesel?  – Princess Cruise Lines cooking oil (used), methanol, and lye (thus the heavy safety gloves worn by Charlie D and Pickle).

Charlie M adds the lye and methanol solution to the used cooking oil.

Louisa and Tyler insure adequate agitation so the acid-base reaction occurs completely.

Below left:  George pours the finished product into the flask. Glycerol (the same ingredient in soap) is the dark material settling at the bottom.  Bottom right:  George passes around the glyercol-soap, the only byproduct of the process.


Below: Mangrove Trip!

Students move single file into the mangroves

Learning about the three types of Mangroves: Red, Black, and White. Be sure to ask your kids how to identify each species!

Mangrove dance!

Brookwood explorers checking out the flora and fauna in the mangroves

Below: Coral Reef Trip to the “Fourth Hole Beach.” What a beautiful day!  Bottom right:  Can you see your avid snorkelers out there on the reef?  They are the black specs surrounding the rock at the center of the photo!

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Below:  A few pictures of our crew ready to snorkel!

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Below:  Our evening activity – Fish Stomach Dissection with CEI Researcher Georgie. Students dissected the stomachs of Mahi Mahi and Wahoo to investigate what these fish were eating and count the level of plastics found in their digestive system. What a way to end the day!

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Day 3 was amazing; we can’t wait for Day 4!

Day 2 – “A ship is safe in the harbor, but …”


Our first full day was sensational! We started by gathering at 6:30 AM at the flag pole to raise the Bahamian flag and sing the Bahamian National Anthem. We then had a swim check and snorkel lesson in the Island School Harbor with a glorious sunrise over the water.

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After breakfast (french toast, sausage, and watermelon) we enjoyed a sustainability tour of the facilities on the property. The Island School and CEI have drastically reduced their carbon footprint by using clean energy technologies. The kids saw the wind turbine, solar panels, living roofs, biodiesel production center, Aquaponics system, gardens, composting system, as well as the chickens, goats, pigs, and ducks who help with food waste. Our Brookwood students learned that by producing their own biodiesel, the Island School reduced emissions by 52% and are completely off the grid using solar and wind energy to generate their electricity. All of the fresh water used on campus comes from rain water and the kids got to see the massive cisterns under the cafeteria that store the water. Our tour concluded with a fierce, but friendly, Jeopardy game where kids had to answer questions about the sustainability efforts on campus.IMG_2806    IMG_2811IMG_2828

Lunch time came and the kids tucked into meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, and salad. Post lunch the kids participated in a sustainable fisheries activity at the boat house.

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We then headed out to snorkel “The Saddle,” which is a place where you can access two blue holes in a short distance. We saw tons of wildlife – tropical fish, flounders, brittle stars, sea stars, corals, and sponges. The kids took full advantage of their blue water playground.






Pizza for dinner and on to our Fish Identification evening activity where kids learned the names of common reef fish in the Bahamas.

Our Cassiques for the day (make sure to ask your kids about this) were Lilly Blake and Cage LeBlanc. At closing circle they shared a quote that summed up our day: “A ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what it is made for.” Our time at the Island School will be filled with challenges and our Cassiques encouraged us to continue to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones.