By: Natalie, Annie, Tai, Kyle T, Lucy, Ann-Marie, Sterling, Greg: It may seem rough to leave behind cell-phones, telephone, and Internet, but we have happily replaced these “tings” with place-based learning. This week in math class, we took a boat out to the sand bar to examine the ooids that make up the island’s foundation. Scientists flock from all over the world to study these geological wonders of theBahamas. We also calculated the distance to the horizon from our location. Yesterday we took our first breaths under-water for SCUBA certification, which is part of our Marine Ecology class. We will use this still to learn about the different ecosystems that surround us. We’re excited to start our research projects this week, which range from mangroves to lemon sharks. Best of all, on Friday night we made new friends around a bonfire rather than on Facebook. Now how many high school students can say all of that?
Kyle Forness: Today as I sat under the gazebo free-writing with Felix I thought of how well the gazebo represented The Island School and its ideals. Starting from the top down, the thatched roof made of dried indigenous leaves stood for how The Island School is conscious and tries to incorporate the culture of The Bahamas into our schooling as well as a sheltered safe place for us to grow and learn. Going down to the timber the gazebo is made from that was all cut and shaped in the on campus woodshop represents the self-sustainability of theIslandSchooland pushes the students into becoming. The benches and tables of the gazebo show the community that exists within The Island School. The supporting posts of the gazebo stand for the three pillars of The Island School; leadership, sustainability and community.

Later we free wrote again about the flagpole and the meaning it had to us and the person who built it. I felt the person who built it probably dug ten other holes that day so he probably felt very little when he dug and put up the pole. I personally felt the flagpole, still feeling like a guest of this country, felt still little loyalty to the flag and had no reason to feel anything to the pole which is when I came to the conclusion that a flagpole has little value without its flag. Another topic that was brought up was technology which got me thinking that I haven’t thought about or regretted having any technology since I’ve been here which makes me realize exactly how unimportant and unnecessary in general that my technology really is to me.

Shelby Ambargis: As the number of days I have been in Eleuthera continue to grow, it is easier for me to see a common trend in all my days- opportunities for learning I have never experienced before. A current and ongoing example of this is our first kayak trips that set out on a 3-day journey yesterday. Half of the students left Sunday and the other students, including myself, will leave on Wednesday. In preparation for these days away from campus, we were all set with the task of making a classroom like no other. It can be transported effortlessly to even the most remote location in the entire world and will provide more information than any textbook could dream of. This classroom was a new experience for me because it meant taking advantage of the surrounding environment by going out into it and having our fellow students teach us there. All the years of playing “school” or “teacher” as children finally are paying off, as now it is our actual turn to be the teacher. There will be no place or need for white boards, desks or projectors because all the students are giving lessons on different subject in the very places they happened or remarkable locations allowing them to experience them first hand. There are various subjects that will be taught, like astronomy, clouds and tides. My partners Levi and Lucy and myself will be teaching about the Lucayan Indians, that use to inhabit the Bahamian Islands. Reading about how they lived on islands, like our very own Eleuthera, last night, I learned about the importance of the village in their communities. The village was everything to these people; it was their heart, soul, family and livelihood. It was set generally with open plaza in the center where the whole community could come together and listen to community leaders, caciques. Surrounding this common area laid people’s houses, that was home to large extended families. The outermost area was the conucos, which was the main gardens that provided food for the community and the starts of trails leading to various locations. When I stood at morning circle this morning, after a nice sleep-in-morning, I realized how similar our two communities were. The heart and soul of our campus was at the center just like the Lucayans, where we meet as an entire community and are lead by a cacique. Also the outskirt of our campus is made of the gardens that sustainably provide us our meals. Separating our gardens and heart of campus is living areas, like the boy, girls and faculty dormitories. Here we live together like the Lucayan Indians and build relationships that despite having lived here only a week, I know will last a lifetime. I finally saw today how not only do we go on kayak trips to learn so much in a new environment but live in one that supports the Island School philosophy of integrating, not over taking the areas we call home. My love for this new home came quick but is trapped in my heart forever, like the flagpole, billowing with memories, permanently in the center of campus.

Max Spencer: A group of us is walking through the town in Deep Creek in our first week, still not completely acclimated to the new environment. All of us had a nice quick stop at the main store with most people getting some type of food or drink for a treat. As we walked farther along the road we saw some goats on the side of the road. We walked towards the goats to take pictures and possibly pet them. The closer we got, the more visible a man became; we could see him on the side of the road and he walked right up to us and said, “You want to take pictures of the goats?” or at least that’s what I could understand. He ignored us and walked to the other side of the road where there was a larger goat tied to a pole. He untied the goat, brought it over to us, and attempted to explain that the large goat was the male and he mated with the other goats to produce babies. The male goat, apparently named Billy, kept trying to get free from the man’s grasp and eventually the man had to jump on the goat’s back and wrestle it to the ground. Once he had the goat under control and we had gotten out of our shock that he had just wrestled down the goat, he asked us to take pictures of him with the goat on the ground. After talking to him for a bit, he told us his name was Dale and that he took care of the goats. We finished our conversation with Dale and eventually walked back to the softball fields where we had first arrived. We shared our experience with Dale with some other students and all of them were jealous that they missed Dale wrestling a goat to the ground.

Joe Eynck: The Flagpole is a symbol for all Island School students as a reminder of where we are.  The reason this flagpole is so vital to the student’s journey is the idea of, if you don’t know where you are you don’t know who you are.  This idea of self finding and self actualization is essential to someone’s future whether it be for your major in college or you future section in research, or job.  The flagpole is also there to help the students engulf the bohemian culture.  Every morning and evening (and sometime in-between) we have our circle meeting around the Bohemian national flag where we chant the national anthem. When we finish every exercise whether it’s a morning run-swim for various miles or a three to five mile run we must finish by touching the flagpole.  This centralization around the flag helps us to recognize that we apart of the Bahamas we are not just visiting it’s our home, and we must respect it and look out for it.  By embracing the culture we are able to understand the locals and get to know them on a personal level and instead of bending our environment the way we want to see it and live in it we adapt to it so we can be producers within rather than consumers.  We strive to positive affect our surrounding and to be a group that is warmly welcomed and respected.  All of these good things is what the flagpole is there to encompass, and I am only at the beginning of my journey here, and by the end the flag will show so many more things it’s exciting and imponderable.

Francisco Diaz: Today we were planning on going scuba diving, but sometimes things don’t work out the way you planned them to. Instead we were landlocked because of the high winds coming through the campus. To compensate and not waste our time, we did an outdoor lesson on metaphors and similes. Where we compared different items we could find around campus to anything we wanted. One of the items we were asked to make a metaphor with was the school’s flagpole.

Every morning we meet around the flagpole for morning circle and sing the Bahamian national anthem. When Felix, my English teacher for this assignment, asked us to meditate on what the flagpole meant to us I came to the conclusion that it was a symbol to everyIslandschool student of a new day. I realized that it meant a new day not only to all of us here now but I had meant that to all the students from semesters before. It made me realize that the flagpole was so much more than just a placeholder for the Bahamian flag. It held greater meaning for me, and it could hold an infinite number of meanings to others.

Dana Colihan: It started gusting last night. The palm trees began clapping against windows, lettuce leaves flying off dinner plates, and waves crashing into frothy, white foam. The wind kept roaring throughout the night. Today on the way to morning circle, people found swimsuits and shorts that they left out to dry lying on the ground and lodged into bushes. The thatched roof of the gazebo shuddered like a deck of cards being shuffled and the turquoise and yellow Bahamian flag convulsed in the wind. Lift up your head to the rising sun Bahamaland. As we wiped sleepies out of our eyes, we sang the national anthem. Today was the first time it actually sounded like a song. The first couple of days, with a foreign melody we could really only mumble the lyrics. After a few days to perfect the anthem, most kids didn’t need to look at the words at all and we actually sounded pretty good. As we sang the anthem, I realized the importance of us raising the Bahamian flag every morning and singing the Bahamian national anthem. These two things connect us to the land we are living in as well as the people who live here. If we didn’t pay homage to the country we would be intruders to the land. Maxey read us a quote in the beginning of the semester, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” And by beginning to learn about this land, we are beginning to rediscover ourselves.