Exploring and Learning in Paradise

Exploring and Learning in Paradise

Founded in 1999, the Island School, located in beautiful Eleuthera in the Bahamas, is a high school for tenth and eleventh graders surrounded by clear blue water. 

While primarily serving high school students, the Island School also offers programming for those in pre-K up until Ph.D. at their various research centers to offer exciting learning opportunities. 

The Island School’s philosophy is to connect education, research, and outreach, creating learning opportunities for native ecosystems and environmental sustainability. In addition, many of the buildings on their campus are eco-friendly by using solar panels, sustainable water collection, and multi-stream recycling and composting. 

The Island School offers both semester and summer terms in addition to week-long programs that schools, like MBS, can attend. The MBS program this year focused on marine ecology, biology, and conservation while exploring the gorgeous islands and reefs.

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On April 16, twenty-four MBS students and four chaperones, Mr. Brad Turner, Ms. Rose Costanzo, Dr. Sara Chuang, and Dr. Chris Payette headed to the airport to catch a flight to the Island School.Throughout the week, students participated in various unique activities.

On the first day, students attended a lesson on mangroves, including a wade where they were able to identify the three types of mangroves: white, black, and red. They waded and snorkeled through the shallow waters, where they saw baby sharks and various species of fish.

Other activities throughout the week include a relaxing boat ride out to a reef and to look for lionfish, an extremely invasive species. These harmful fish are not native to the environment and put additional stress on coral reefs. During this experience, the Island School staff spear-fished the lionfish, after which the students were able to dissect them.  Afterwhich, students fed them to the bullsharks at the marina. This hands-on exploration provided students with a deeper understanding of marine conservation efforts.

On another day, some of the group was able to participate in the Discover scuba dive. This beginner course taught students how to scuba dive. They dove down to a substantial depth, experiencing the feeling of breathing underwater and seeing the beauty within the ocean. Afterwards, the group took a trip down the island, where they saw the Glass Window Bridge and Hatchet Bay Cave to explore the island’s wonders.

But one of the fan favorites happened on the third day where the group traveled by boat to a sandbar, where they found exquisite conch shells and sand dollars and enjoyed the hot sun while on a bar of sand in the middle of the ocean.

Between the daily excusions, lessons on the history of Eleuthra, and hands-on experiences, the Island School opened the students’ minds to the beauty of the ocean and how to protect it. With newfound knowledge and inspiration, the group returned home, carrying with them unforgettable memories of their experience at the Island School.

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