• San Salvador Living Jewels

    Posted by Jayne Fonash on 11/27/2007 3:00:00 PM
    For several years a group of passionate citizens have been working to persuade the government of the Bahamas to protect the 'Living Jewels"  of San Salvador as a a national park.  Their goal is to ensure that the living  jewels of the "sunlit crown of  land, sea and, sky" are preserved for future generations.  This song was written by Ron Shaklee to further their cause.
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  • Goodbye to San Salvador

    Posted by Jayne Fonash on 11/24/2007 6:00:00 AM
    With a beautiful Bahamian sunrise as a backdrop we are leaving the Gerace Research Center for our trip to the San Salvador Airport and then home to Virginia! 
    Rich with new friends and experiences...
    New skills and stories to tell...
    New holiday traditions...
    We  are coming home!  See you tonight at Dulles Airport.  AirTran Flight 66 is scheduled to arrive at IAD at 10:56 p.m.  We hear that the temperature is HALF of what we are used to... bring coats!
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  • Hannah's Blog

    Posted by Hannah on 11/23/2007 11:30:00 PM

    Last day! I can’t believe this week went by so quickly! After breakfast, the Bahamas Mamas, aka Kelsey, Bonnie, Joanne and I went down to the beach until we needed to get ready. We loaded up at 9:30 making sure to get on the NOT- singing truck. It was a pretty short ride to Rocky Point, our first snorkel of the day. I’m finally getting good at putting all the equipment on quickly, and the trip is over! It was a pretty good snorkel, except for being a little murky. We saw some pretty angelfishes and a lot of sea eggs. We turned in a little earlier than normal to hunt for sand dollars near the shore, and then headed to Grotto Beach.

    The waves at Grotto were HUGE –it was so awesome. Everyone was playing in the waves – either jumping over them, floating over them, or body surfing. It was such a fun day. We even had a little picnic lunch of sandwiches on the beach and played ultimate Frisbee. Eventually it was time for the trip back to the field station. We sang “na-na-na-na, na-na-na, hey-hey-hey, goodbye as we passed Fernandez Bay for the last time. There was a typical mad dash for the showers as we got back to the field station, and they we took care of last-minute laundry.

    After dinner we headed over to the library. Currently I am writing in one of the comfy little chairs in the library while Kelsey appeals to the spirits of computers and satellites  for Internet connection. We’re headed to the lab next to finish up our organism sheets and do a little extra studying for the final exam tonight. After that, hopefully we will have a fun last night in paradise.

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  • Robbie's Blog

    Posted by Robbie on 11/23/2007 11:00:00 PM
    The last week has been an amazing experience for 38 students who came to a field station, and now that we are leaving it is very easy to see exactly how much we have learned.  Obviously we learned about fish and how to identify them, but in reality we have learned so much more. 
    We went a whole week with no cell phones, no ipods, no MySpace and really no communication with the outside world.  I don't even know the scores for any sporting events since we left!  Most people would think that this would be impossible for a group of teenagers, but we did it and we are stronger for it.   
    Going without technology for a week really was not that difficult after all.  We spent our free time with friends, and we are all much closer for the experience.  We were not allowed to shut ourselves in our rooms and blast music during our free time, we actually had to be with people.  We found ways to entertain ourselves.  We played cards, told stories, ran around and hung out on the beach.  It helped us to realize we really don't need much technology to entertain ourselves, and we actually had fun!
    Beyond marine science we learned skills we can use for life.  We learned to manage our time.  We learned to do research using BOOKS and not Internet!  We spent a whole week away from home, even gone for Thanksgiving, and yet we all survived.  Some of us had low points but through the support of our friends and a new sense of inner strength we survived. 
    We are closer to one another and share bonds that will last much longer than this wonderful week we have spent in San Salvador. 
    Robbie  11/23/07
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  • Our last day at Gerace Research Center

    Posted by Jayne Fonash on 11/23/2007 12:00:00 PM
    Class of 2010
    Our juniors and those of you with a good eye will recognize this location as Grotto Beach on the southeast corner of San Salvador, and the location of the second annual photo of our trip to Gerace Research Center and San Salvador Island.  A look at their faces will tell you that this has been an amazing week for all of us.  We snorkeled this morning at Rocky Point and then headed south with picnic lunches for an afternoon of fun in the waves.  Tonight we will have dinner and one last lecture before we pack for our trip home tomorrow. 
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  • Claudia's Bolg 2

    Posted by Claudia on 11/23/2007 9:10:00 AM

    On the way back from our first dive this morning I had an interesting conversation with Mrs. Fonash, Nico, and Laura that I’ll probably remember for a long time.

    Mrs. F. was telling us that she was aprehensive about swimming out so far, and that her goal was to swim out far enough to reach Snapshot Reef, which has by far been the most beautiful dive location yet. She also commented that she was sure if she had been our age when she learned to snorkel that she probably would be less fearful. That’s when it completely sunk in; how many PEOPLE, let alone high school students, get a chance to come here and experience what we’ve experienced?

    I always “knew” that we, the students of AOS, were extremely fortunate, but thus us on a completely different scale. Sure we’ve been introduced to a new field of science, but that isn’t the half of it. At age 14,15, and 16 we’ve just spent six days learning how to manage our time, how to live with 37 other people, and just overall how to adjust to new circumstances and new surroundings.

    For me personally it is the combination of three things: the introduction to marine biology, the life lessons I have learned, and the friends that I’ve made and enjoyed that make this one of the most important weeks of my life.

    Claudia 11/22/07

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  • Nick's Blog

    Posted by Nick on 11/22/2007 10:00:00 PM

    This morning I woke at 6:00 for an early run with Amanda, Robbie, Luke, Jonathan and Omar to North Point for the sunrise. I’ve never witnessed a Caribbean sunrise but it is something I’ll never forget. The colors were unforgettable as cliché as that seems. After our run we went through the normal breakfast routine and headed off to Lindsay’s Reef. We snorkeled just off shore and immediately Omar and I noticed mountains of coral almost breaking the surface. There were sea fans everywhere, with fish darting in and out. At one point I was stuck between mountains of coral and I was nervous that I would accidentally damage the coral. Luckily I found a low overhang that I could swim under without destroying the coral foundation.

    We returned to BFS for lunch and then headed out with the intention of snorkeling at French Bay on the southern tip of the island. Owing to the rough sea today, we postponed the French Bay snorkel to tomorrow and spent the rest of the afternoon at Grotto Beach body surfing in the waves. Thanksgiving dinner was delicious – turkey, stuffing, green beans and pumpkin pie. I left for the lab to finish some of my organism charts and hear this evening’s speaker. It was another great day in the Bahamas full of improvisation.

    Nick 11/22/07

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  • Happy Thanksgiving to All!

    Posted by George Wolfe on 11/22/2007 12:00:00 PM
    Happy Thanksgiving to all from the AOS staff!!!!


    For those of us in the education business, it is a rare treat to see our labors bear fruit in a short amount of time. It is that much more of a pleasure, therefore, when in a few short days we can watch our students grow both academically and emotionally.


    These are very different “kids” than landed on San Salvador 6 days ago. When they got here they were wide-eyed, excited, and inexperienced. They each knew a handful of their fellow students, knew little biology and had little experience of traveling and collaborating as not just a group of individuals, but as a team. What a difference a week makes!


    We have watched them learning each others names, helping each other in the water, working together on assignments, reminding each other of the rules, laughing at each other and themselves, and learning what it means to put the needs of a team before their individual needs. We listen to them come out of the water and pore through their fish books as they talk about the yellow tailed damsel fish, the hawksbill turtle, the school of squid. We hear the excitement in their voices after each activity, knowing that with each experience, they are growing as people as well as scientists.


    We watched them last night as they sat listening to a coral reef researcher for almost an hour and then they peppered him with questions for 45 minutes. And, what questions! They grilled him on everything from the validity of his research in a project that uses “volunteers,” to the conclusions he can arrive at since there is little previous data and no control group. They asked him about the importance of writing papers and his theories on coral bleaching. They even understood when he described linear regressions and cheered when he brought up the statistics (well, maybe it wasn’t exactly a cheerJ). When he was done, he commented to Mr. Wolfe that most college groups he presents to neither understand, nor ask, questions at this level.


    Today we will remind them that it is Thanksgiving. It will be a pleasure to watch their faces because, even though they are away from home, they are with a new family. Indeed we have much to be thankful for……
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  • Day Six- An American holiday in the Bahamas

    Posted by Jayne Fonash on 11/22/2007 9:00:00 AM
    Girls snorkelfish books
    I expect that many  of us experienced one of  the most unusual Thanksgivings of our lives today. How many people can say that they spent a Thanksgiving morning snorkeling along a reef off a remote Caribbean island?  Although the creatures on the reef are a far cry from the helium-filled characters in the Macy's parade, there was still a noticeable sense of awe on our student's faces this morning and all week. 
    As I wrote last year, one of the privileges of being an educator is having a front row seat to watch students’ dreams come true.  Our students came on this trip hoping to experience marine science.   It is a privilege to be with them as they learn much more about themselves and their classmates,.   
    To my colleagues and the students here, thank you for sharing your lives with me this week.  To the AOS faculty and students stateside, we wish you were here and hope you will write to us!  To  the parents back home, thank you for sharing your children with us.  They are curious and enthusiastic and great ambassadors.  To our juniors at home - you paved the way for the sophomores to follow in your footsteps here in San Salvador -- thanks for your spirit of adventure and curiosity  and your willingness to lead the way. 
    From Dr. Fonash and I to our children in Virginia, our family in Pennsylvania, and my father in North Carolina, we miss you all and wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. 
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  • Emma's Blog

    Posted by Emma on 11/21/2007 11:00:00 PM

    Today most everyone, including myself, woke up to the sound of Omar roaring.  Wednesday was our land day.  After some island exploring this morning at the lighthouse we headed off to the caves where everyone had a blast exploring but I don’t think anyone saw the cave pig.  Most of us saw  a number of bats before exiting the caves.   We headed to town for lunch and shopping.  There were three stores in town to go to:  the straw market, the convenience store and a small gift shop.  Most of us bought tons of food, touristy t-shirts, baseball caps,  and straw purses.  When we got back to the research center the people with the most purses were the boys!  Taylor, Heather and I bought bright blue beanie caps that say “BAHAMAS” and formed the “Bahama Beanies” group.  Look for pictures!

    Emma 11/21/07
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Last Modified on November 27, 2007