Last spring, a group of students from Pingry School in New Jersey, led by two Island School alumni, Mark Mason, Jr. (F22) and Brennan McVey (F21),  asked a simple question: “can we come back to The Island School?” 

As part of their senior year curriculum, these students conduct a month-long scientific research project based on their interests. Mark and Brennan, who were friends and research partners, immediately thought of The Island School. They wanted to find a way to explore Bahamian marine ecosystems and compare those ecosystems to those in their home environment. After reaching out to The Island School and organizing dates, chaperones, travel, and logistics, everything was in place. 

At the same time, a student from Hawken School in Ohio, Zoltan Kotrebai, was asking himself the same question. Zoltan visited The Island School in early December for just a week as a Visiting Programs student, and he was ready to return. Much like Pingry School, Hawken requires a senior research project for students. Zoltan reached out to the Visiting Programs team at The Island School and the connection was immediate. 

Experiencing The Island School Through A New Lens

After careful planning, these three students came together and returned to The Island School for a one-week program with their peers.

The ultimate goal of the week was to create a short documentary about conch fisheries through interviews with local fishers, restaurants, and scientists at the Cape Eleuthera Institute. The students would use that information and connect it to the oyster fisheries in New Jersey. The group also used the time on island to explore their favorite spots like High Rock and participate in shark research with our CEI scientists. By the end of the week, the three returning students had fallen back into old rhythms—doing run swims, dancing through dish crews, and biking through the loop—and they’d introduced their classmates to them, too.

It was an incredible experience welcoming these passionate and focused students back to The Island School for their senior research projects. We hope to see these students again at our 25th anniversary later this year and welcome a new round of seniors for independent research projects in Spring 2025!