(November 17, 2013–Nassau, Bahamas) Supporters and sponsors of the Deep Creek Middle School (DCMS), The Island School and Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) came together to celebrate growing opportunities for Bahamian youth. The cocktail reception was held at Old Fort Club and was used as an opportunity to thank donors for their support as the schools continue to grow their scholarships for Bahamian students, apprentices and interns in all parts of the organization.
The Deep Creek Middle School was founded by The Island School in 2001 and has served over 125 Bahamian students with an experiential approach to the national curriculum. In 2004, BREEF and The Island School created the Bahamas Environmental Steward Scholar (BESS) program which gives Bahamian high school graduates the opportunity to spend a semester at The Island School and complete an internship in marine conservation. In addition to these formal school opportunities, Bahamian students can participate in the summer work apprentice program or complete collegiate or graduate studies at the organization. Most of these positions come with scholarships, financial aid and stipends funded by private, government and foundation supporters.
The event began with a welcome by the Honourable Alfred Gray Minister of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Local Government, who gave his firm support and interest in what The Cape Eleuthera Island School does to support the next generation of Bahamian leadership. His opening addressed marked The Island School’s service to the national marine science and education movement. “They have indeed become a part of the fabric of our country.” Bahamian youth who have benefited from educational opportunities supported by CEIS spoke at the event, including 2013 BESS alumna Franchesca Bethell and 2003 DCMS alumna Takashii Sweeting. The students highlighted the opportunities they have received through the programs and thanked donors for their support of scholarships at the schools.
Nineteen year old Franchesca Bethel described the profound impact of her experience as a BESS student, “learning outside of the classroom excited me. I learned how my passion for teaching and for marine science could come together,” she stated, adding that she realized the value of “doing real research that would be used to support the future direction of my country.” Bethel ended her address by asserting, “I am proud to be on my way to being a future leader of The Bahamas!” Takashii Sweeting, DCMS graduate and secondary education student at the College of The Bahamas, mirrored the sentiments of Bethel during her own speech. She attributed DCMS with providing the foundation which has allowed her to achieve her professional goals. Bethel remarked, “DCMS aims to foster creative and inspirational thinkers. For me, it certainly provided a sense of independence and also consciousness towards our environment.”
The event also marked expanding collaboration efforts with College of The Bahamas. COB President Betsy Vogel-Boze and founder Chris Maxey formalized a partnership between The College of The Bahamas and The Cape Eleuthera Institute and Deep Creek Middle School. Vogel-Boze remembered her first visit to the CEI campus, calling the programming, “transformational and magical.” In her address to the crowd of donors and supporters, she said, “I knew instantly that it was something I wanted to be a part of and something I wanted The College to be a part of, too.”
An official memorandum of understanding for partnership and collaboration was signed which will provide opportunities for Bahamian students to study, research and teach at The Island School, Cape Eleuthera Institute, and Deep Creek Middle School. The agreement guarantees that COB students will be awarded full-credit for participation in research and educational programming. “I want to thank you for your leadership,” stated Maxey to Vogel-Boze after signing the agreement, adding “this new partnership means a lot to us, and to the future of education and research in The Bahamas.” Maxey also emphasized the value of empowering young people to lead, a central vision exemplified by the stories of alumnae shared at the event.
“When I look at a Bahamian kid when I am teaching class or out doing outreach,” described Bethel, “I see myself. A couple of years ago I was that same kid getting excited that someone came along and wanted to share with me. I feel like it’s my duty as a BESS scholar and as a young Bahamian to come back and share what I’ve learned with those kids.”
For more information about opportunities to support Bahamian youth leadership through Cape Eleuthera Island School see islandschool.org or dcmsbahamas.org.
Story by Ashley Akerberg