Students are not the only ones going back to classes! During the month of August, Ocean Academy teachers participated in professional development workshops and met with colleagues to discuss curriculum and lesson planning, assessment, differentiated learning, youth engagement, and positive behaviour management plans.
The student Compost and Gardening group was also busy during the summer tending their crops of cilantro, basil, arugula and mint. They returned to school to learn that their project work has been selected as a finalist for the Belize National Youth Recognition Awards in the category of Environmentalism. I'll be sure to post another report when we find out the results.
Ocean Academy classes resumed on August 29th with a full school of 60 students in all four forms. We are excited to welcome 21 new highschoolers out of the class of 28 who graduated from the island primary school. We also have transfer students from the neighbouring island and even the capital city. We need to pay five full-time and two part-time Belizean teachers, as well as our Belizean Principal. A full school also means that we are short on desks and chairs, computers (5 students need to share at present), books and space. Our library hallway is insufficient to hold the resources needed for English classes but we don't have the funds to build a proper room and shelving. Most importantly, many of our students are still hoping for tuition scholarships and sponsors so that they can stay in school this year. If you are willing to donate again it would create tremendous opportunities and make a real difference in a student's life as we start this school year.
In addition to the enclosed photos, I have posted links to our school blog where you can keep up-to-date between reports, as well as links to two short videos. One is a brief history of Ocean Academy, the other is a video the students created to express their sincere appreciation to all the donors, volunteers and supporters. We hope you enjoy "meeting" the students and hearing in their own words what your support means to them and their dreams for the future.
Amira Marin, Danny Marin, Lexee Marin and Morgan Carrasco might be a small class, but they are the pride of Caye Caulker as the very first graduates of Ocean Academy. Founded in 2008, Ocean Academy is the first non-profit community high school on Caye Caulker, Belize and this your generous support helped make this milestone happen.
Principal Hilda Marin opened the June 11th, 2011 graduation ceremony by unveiling Ocean Academy’s new crest. An open book symbolizes the importance of learning, three gold coins represent the three co-founders’ contributions, a dolphin symbolizes the freedom that education brings, rolling waves show our desire to push forward around the world, mangroves signify strength and stability, and foliage around the shield indicates the school’s deep respect and protection of the environment.
Music was integrated throughout the ceremony, starting with the Pomp and Circumstance processional, a guitar performance by student Lilly Aldana of "Stand By Me" and ending with an inspiring interpretation by the graduates of the song “The World’s Greatest”.
"I’m that star up in the sky, I’m that mountain peak up high, Hey I made it, I’m the world’s greatest, And I’m that little bit of hope, When my back’s against the ropes, I can feel it, I’m the world’s greatest".
And this group of young people truly have great plans! Danny has been accepted into the University of Belize, and Amira will study at Muffles. Morgan will continue his work with environmental conservation groups. Lexee has been hired at Belize Diving Services after successfully completing her Advance Diving course through Ocean Academy’s aquatic tourism P.E.
To see more photos of the ceremony and celebration, go to the school website (link below) or visit the Facebook page for Caye Caulker Ocean Academy.
Children from the primary school and community members all enjoyed Ocean Academy's interactive science exhibits on May 11th. Displays included solar power, circuits, lemon juice rocket, soil erosion models, animal habitats, waste management solutions for small islands and more. To see photos, click the links for our Facebook or website "What's New" pages.
Your donations through Global Giving support student scholarships and school programs. Other good news is that International Friends of Belize renewed $500usd scholarships for three Ocean Academy students. More than 50 students applied nation-wide. We are so proud, and know that these scholarships make a huge difference in our students' lives.
"From the moment I met Mercedes I knew she would be the environmental leader who will have the greatest impact on Caye Caulker" - Heidi Curry, Administrator, Nomination Letter
"Jaison is a very humble young man. He is also honest, responsible and respectful...When I arrive at school with a load of instruments he runs to help me carry them to class. I never asked for help. He just does it. I appreciate it very much" - Scotty Poock, Volunteer Music Teacher, Nomination Letter
"Receiving this award makes me feel proud of myself for all the hard work I have done. It makes me feel that I am making the right choices in my life that make people proud of me and willing to help. I'm thankful you have such big hearts" - Lilly Aldana, Student, Thank-You Letter
Advanced Scuba Diver Graduates Eleven Ocean Academy Aquatic Tourism P.E. students are now Advanced scuba divers: Byron, Clifton, David, Denzel, Elizabeth, Estrella, Kyle, Lexee, Morgan, Mercedes, Yuma. Students even got to try out underwater photography. The scuba diving P.E. class was made possible because of the generous leadership and training provided by Belize Diving Services and volunteer instructors Pablo, Cal, Chip, Danielle and sponsor Patrick Savage
Night School Graduates Congratulations to the adults who enrolled in Ocean Academy's two night-school courses: E.S.L. (English as Second Language) and Spanish. After five weeks of language study the students earned their Level 1 certificates. Ocean Academy is pleased to extend educational opportunities to adults in the community and we hope to offer a Level 2, as well as computer classes, soon.
Marine Debris Turtle Project Ocean Academy students joined up with the Youth Environmental Club and ECOMAR to create an artistic message about the negative effects of marine trash on sea turtles. The goal was to create a turtle made entirely from marine trash that would be displayed at the 5th International Conference on Marine Debris in Hawaii. Students combed Caye Caulker's shore and collected plastic water "shilling bags", plastic bags, bottle caps, rope and hard plastics.
Hol Chan Marine Park Competition Idalia, Form II student, created the winning slogan (below) for the Hol Chan Marine Park Competition 2011: The Reef. Our Present, Our Future. Let's Protect It. Idalia invited her entire class and teachers to join her on the prize of a guided snorkel trip to the Hol Chan Marine Park.
Click here for more Ocean Academy photos and stories, such as:
- Science and World History class projects
- Baking and Art Electives
- Youth Sports Camp
- Mural Art
- and more!
Love of Learning: NASA Guest Speaker
Last week Ocean Academy welcomed Peter Smith to talk with students about the history, technology and future of Space Exploration. Our Science teacher and students also appreciated the donation of NASA posters, resources and space shuttle models. Thank you for inspiring future Belizean astronauts!
Love of Gardening: Cilantro and Basil
The school composting and gardening project produced it's first bonanza crop of cilantro, that students then sold to restaurants and villagers. Students plan to expand their culinary herb business with Cinnamon Basil seeds (Earth-based and Space) donated by NASA Education.
Love of Community: Valentine's Day
Interact Club members made Valentine Day cards for ten financially-needy families with the message that our hearts are in the community, and everyone is a valued member. After school the students visited homes to deliver food gift bags donated by Grace Foods and Caye Caulker Bakery.
Love for the Planet: Geotourism Challenge Results
Last month Ocean Academy was selected by an international panel of judges to be one of 12 finalists out of 250 entries from 54 countries. The theme was Saving Places on The Edge: Saving Coastal and Freshwater Destinations. The good news is that 2500 people read our project entry and learned about our innovative environmental education and aquatic tourism programs. Unfortunately, we did not ultimately win the competition prize, but thank you to everyone who took the time to vote.
You are one of one hundred donors who has raised $9,480 since December toward our goal of $35,000 to generate scholarships for 50 students. Thank you! On March 16th only, Global Giving will match each donation made (up to $1000) with a 30% top up! If you know someone who might also like to donate and join the Ocean Academy family of supporters, please tell them that March 16th would be a great day to start.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
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