The 2017-2018 academic school year is flying by and the Ocean Academy (OA) students have already accomplished so many amazing activities.
As always, August was a time for preparation. OA teachers participated in professional development workshops to study differentiated learning strategies, literacy skills and counselling strategies. New students transitioned to high school with a two-week course in Math and English skill-building to bring them closer to grade level. And of course, campus beautification and repairs took place with students and staff volunteering time to paint, make repairs, and this year set up our new OA Seatide Cafe to serve break food on campus.
September's Awards ceremony recognized effort and excellent in many subject areas, including Honor Roll. Our graduates
Female students have represented OA at several big events. Three female students and their mentor attended the Women in Politics Conference in Belize City, and got to meet with First Lady Kim Semplis Barrow as well as many other influential women in Belizean society. We sent two female delegates to the World Youth Conference in Belize City to meet with youth leaders from over 43 countries and create an action plan for Sustainable Development Goals 2030. Ocean Academy girls have formed their own club - Girls Rising - and are working with GirlUp to plan empowerment activities campus-wide. An OA science teacher represented Belize in Panama City at a conference organized by TeacHER, in order to learn strategies for encouraging more girls to enter careers in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math).
Our technology students are also shining. The Tech Club won 3rd place in the National Raspberry Pi Young Innovator's Challenge, with their design of an electronic voting booth. Students will present their project next week to the Caye Caulker Village Council to discuss real-world uses. Both Geography classes went to the World GIS Day Expo, and were the only highschoolers asked to also be exhibitors; students showcased uses of mapping technology in tracking manatee movements (to create no wake zones) as well as liquid and solid waste sites on the island (to plan transport systems).
Community involvement in our leading our Elective classes continues to be a terrific success. Students learn from skilled mentors with a shared passion in a wide variety of areas: art, guitar, yoga, drumming, pinata making, karate, chemistry, basketball, soccer, fly fishing, cooking, bird watching, marine ecology, gardening, meditation, dance and more. December 9th is our annual Christmas Dinner & Show Fundraiser on the island. Students are working with chefs from Hibisca Restaurant to prepare a gourmet three-course menu, and other students are rehearsing performances.
The campus is buzzing, and we are so thankful for your role in supporting educational opportunities and dreams for the Caye Caulker youth. A special "big up" to all of our monthly donors who keep us in their hearts and thoughts all year long. We hope one day soon you will all come visit us and meet the students in person.
Last year we watched in awe, from the heat and sands of Belize, as our friend Danny Michel embarked on an amazing journey to the cold and ice of north. Ocean Academy students couldn't travel to foreign climes but we did host a World History Showcase. As well, Geography students travelled to Belize City to present at a World Geographic Information Systems Day to share how they use GPS, drones and ArcGIS software to identify and map garbage hotspots on Caye Caulker. Students shared some solutions to marine trash such as promoting reusable shopping bags and food containers instead of plastics and styrofoam. These initiatives link our worlds together, from Danny's voyage in Arctic seas to our blue Caribbean and beyond.
We are motivated to expand our school Fine Arts Program in 2017. The first week of Christmas holidays, several students chose to come together for a five-day Art Camp with Master Trainer Kirkland Smith. Students learned how to stretch canvas, create calligraphy fonts, experiment with watercolours and also visit island artists and shops for inspiration and advice. Other Art programs taught by community artists include Batik, Arts and Crafts, Painting and Recycled Art Creations. We are developing a new social enterprise called "Art with Purpose" for student artwork to be displayed and sold in our SEaTIDE School Shop, with sales to be reinvested in student fees and programs, as well as supporting student family incomes. Our Music Program is slowly expanding from our 5 donated guitars to new classes and equipment in drumming and keyboards.
Ocean Academy students started the new year by creating Vision Boards, writing affirmations and sharing positive recognitions of classmates. The Yoga and Meditation programs have proven so successful that we are creating a small Meditation/Calm Space room on campus for students to relax, gain clarity and refocus.
We are looking forward to 2017 and thank you all, especially our monthly donors, for your unwavering support and belief in our Ocean Academy project.
March is Women's Month in Belize. Some pretty amazing girls attend Ocean Academy.
Adaly, Form 2 student, is a change maker. She is passionate about protecting Antillean Manatees and this motivated her to create a youth Manatee Club at Ocean Academy. Adaly won the National Youth Award for Environmentalism this year.
Annabella, Form 3, was selected as one of nine students to represent Belize at a three-week Leadership Camp at Georgetown University in the USA. This opportunitiy is called the Central American Youth Ambassador Program (CAYA) and Annabella is currently in Washington D.C. with youth from other Central American nations. We are very proud of her and excited for her return so we can all share in her experience.
Belize is forming a National District Youth Council, and five Ocean Academy students....ALL GIRLS....got involved in the electorial process. Great civic involvement Kimberly, Adaly, Milvia, Lilian and Ariza.
Social studies classes are learning about Malala, a young activist from Pakistan who won the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her passion for girls' right to education. Ocean Academy students are participating in the "Art and Social Change - Malala Challenge" project. Open the Door to Our Future is the title given to the artpiece created by Adaly, Lilian, Daya and Christopher. The student artists explain that "the flowers represent the growth of knowledge and the bloom of hope" and "a book represents knowledge" and their choice of an old door as their frame because "education is important and opens many doors and opportunities". Adaly shares that "I did the upper right, where lips are closed with a zipper and another set of lips are open. My contribution represents Malala's quote: "There is a moment when you have to choose whether to be silent or stand up. When the whole world is silent, even one voice is heard".