An Education at the Island School

Bahamas Day 4 Part I

Isn’t there something horrible about starting the new year by sleeping through the day and feeling deathly? Last year Mark and I literally spent the day comatose on the couch, watching The Hangover, hungover. Well this time, things were going to be different. We were going to be active. And tour places. And pretend we weren’t so damn hungover.

Eleuthera, Bahamas

Prior to leaving Nassau, our captain had arranged for a New Year’s Day tour of the Island School, a research station and 14 week program for high school students that focuses on sustainability. We had heard from the local divemasters the night before about the sky high tuition ($23,000 per semester) and the kids arriving on island in private jets. So needless to say I was excited to have a voyeuristic peek into the luxury compound these kids had somehow managed to convince their parents was educational.

And this is what I saw:

The Island School, Eleuthera, Bahamas

Yeah. Not what I expected. The first building we encountered was built with a foundation of recycled tires and had a roof that looked pretty darn eco friendly. I was having trouble focusing early on in the morning but I would say that a roof made of plants is undeniably earthy. Next we encountered the dorms, built with dome shaped roofs in order to control the temperature more efficiently. Or something like that. In hindsight, perhaps I should have taken notes.

The Island School, Eleuthera, Bahamas

Next came the best part of the whole day: Mark rambling (drunkenly) into a megaphone about Sean Connery, the Women’s World Arm Wrestling Championships and other fictional tour highlights. He had the group pretty much in stitches and people seemed a tad disappointed when our real guide showed up. (Mark: “Who is this guy?”)

The Island School, Eleuthera, Bahamas

That guy was our guide, a young Australian teaching intern at the school. He told us those big blue tanks behind Mark were full of fish being both studied and used as fertilizer makers for the plants next door.

The Island School, Eleuthera, Bahamas
The Island School, Eleuthera, Bahamas

That symbiosis turned out to be the theme of the day. Its actually a super interesting program where kids and teachers run a campus that is nearly completely sustainable- they collect and use solar and wind energy, rainwater, and even the grease from cruise ship restaurants. The ladder is made into biofuel and used to power vehicles and generators on the campus. I was really excited about that idea, as the environmental impact of cruiseships is one of my major beefs with that industry.

Oh, and those that spent their childhood terrorized by Jaws should find some solace in this photo:

The Island School, Eleuthera, Bahamas

In addition to the outdoor laboratory we also toured the farm. Nothing new or planet saving or revolutionary here, just the time tested, undeniable cuteness of baby pigs.

The Island School, Eleuthera, Bahamas
The Island School, Eleuthera, Bahamas
The Island School, Eleuthera, Bahamas

All in all I was impressed with the school. It certainly has its drawbacks but it seems to have sincere intentions and a lot of ambition. In fact I think the school says it best themselves. both the mission statements and visions are centered around a central question:

How can we live better in a place?

With the high profile of the students attending, we can only hope that as graduating classes go on to be future Masters of the Universe, they recall the lessons they learned in Eleuthera and try to find ways to live better on this planet.


4 responses to “An Education at the Island School

  1. This kind of school would thrive here in Cambridge. With all the restaurants in Cambridge finding a reliable source of grease to convert to biofuel will be a snap. The geodesic domes for classrooms were being used when I went to school at Southern Illinois University. The chairman of the design Dept was Buckminster Fuller who designed the geodesic dome. We had four classrooms that were domes.

    • Well it would certainly fit in in Cambridge, they might have a harder time recruiting to Massachusetts than they do to the Bahamas!

  2. Wow, what a cool experience!!! I always hate that the 1st day of the year is spent hungover and wanting to die, but oh well haha.

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