Summer Smith (Grade 7) with her IS buddy, Abby Wright.

Summer Smith (Grade 7) with her IS buddy, Abby Wright.

Yesterday, the students of Deep Creek Middle School (DCMS) jumped into vans and joined the Island School community for an afternoon full of activity! The event was organized in part by Lisa Schmitt, the Assistant Principal and Art Teacher at DCMS. Mrs. Schmitt joined the Cape Eleuthera community four years ago as an Island School teacher and immediately developed a deep passion for the Buddy Program.

Trinity Thompson (Early Learning Center) with her IS buddy, Luke Weinstein.

Trinity Thompson (Early Learning Center) with her IS buddy, Luke Weinstein.

DCMS students are paired with a “buddy” from The Island School each fall and spring. Spring 2017 Island School students spend one hundred days on Eleuthera and have four formal Buddy Days scheduled, though they sometimes see their buddy at the Dining Hall, the Boathouse, or even in their own settlement.

This year, the first Buddy Day took place at Sunset Beach. Activities ranging from volleyball to jumprope to team-building games were going on all along the beach and on the field nearby. The second meeting this semester was a discussion that occurred following presentations at the Young Men’s Leadership Conference here on campus, allowing students an opportunity to open up about more serious topics.

The third meeting was an afternoon that began with a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) challenge: to design a reef organism adapted to survive in our changing oceans and coral reefs. Students were divided into groups by DCMS advisory to take on the assignment with the IS buddies. Afterwards, students enjoyed some beach time to swim and play with their buddies for the rest of the day. The final event, which takes place in two weeks, is the Basketball Jamboree at the DCMS basketball court. We hope all parents can come help out for this final PTA fundraiser event!

Jade Knowles (Grade 9) with her IS buddies, Annie McGill and Ellie Adams.

Jade Knowles (Grade 9) with her IS buddies, Annie McGill and Ellie Adams.

The relationships that are built through the Buddy Program are important for both schools. For Island School students, getting to know a local student of a younger age range allows them to practice leadership skills they are learning at IS. DCMS students are excellent ambassadors of Eleuthera and can better share what it means to call this place home. 

For DCMS students, this relationship can mean even more; it provides them with another international experience- this time without having to go abroad. By the end of their three years of middle school, they will have developed relationships with six buddies who can come from all over the world. Some students remain in contact after Island School students depart. Sometimes, DCMS students who visit the United States or attend boarding schools reconnect with former Island School students. While the program continues to grow, so will the network of students around the globe whose perspectives have been broadened by the connections they made with someone who experiences life in a very different - though very similar - way to their own.

Dennis Delancy (Grade 7) helping his group design a new species of shark that would survive climate change.

Dennis Delancy (Grade 7) helping his group design a new species of shark that would survive climate change.