Monday, April 25, 2011

The Island School and Southern Eleuthera

Heather, Scott, Peter, Julie and our charming guide, Vanessa

The dining room at lunch
Classrooms at the Island School - notice the solar panels
on the roof
This detail shows the wall's construction. Notice the various
colored bottles and mosaic mask embedded
Julie marvels at the beautiful hand built walls in the
carpentry shop

Mr. Cates at Dingle Motors had strongly suggested we visit the Island School at the south end of Eleuthera and we are SO glad we did. He called to let them know we were coming and even though it was Easter weekend, they were very happy to show us over the complex. Chris and Pam Maxey founded this school in 1998 in conjunction with the Lawrenceville School in N.J. Now students from all over the U.S., Canada and the Bahamas attend, usually for one semester. The mission of the school is:
"Developing an intimate sense of place in students through immersion experiences in the natural and cultural environment;
Modeling sustainability of individual lifestyles, larger communities, and the systems that support them;
Creating an intentional community whose members are cognizant of their abilities, limitations, and effect on others." (check out all the details of this fascinating organization at
In addition to the semester school they also run a middle school for Bahamian students and the Cape Eleuthera Institute, a research center. Good students from the middle school often receive scholarships to private schools in the U.S. Mr. Cates' children and grandchildren have benefited from this opportunity.
Hydroponic lettuce beds fertilized by the
water from the fish tanks
The handsome open air school buildings are surrounded by the sea. There are many solar panels and they process fry oil and make bio diesel fuel for their vehicles. They have a fish farm and grow vegetables. A sustainable life style is their goal. The research institute next door is growing fast and they are now offering summer programs as well.
Fish tanks for growing both fresh and salt water fish
A local family posed for us in front of their
small market in Freetown

Princess cruise ship off their "private island facility",
on Eleuthera but gated off from the rest of us

We also visited the two marinas at this far end of the island - the simple but well protected Davis Harbor Marina ($1 a foot) and the very fancy Cape Eleuthera Marina ($2.50 a foot), also well protected but with rental homes, condos, restaurant and a hotel. The small villages here seem to have more churches than homes and stores, but there is some employment at the Princess Cruise line "private island" facility. A small village of shops sell tourist souvenirs outside the gated "resort". The beaches at this end of the island are nice, not great, but deserted.

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