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Students traveled to the Cayman Islands over Winter Long Weekend to serve the local community and enjoy a few days in the sun
Students traveled to the Cayman Islands over Winter Long Weekend to serve the local community and enjoy a few days in the sun
Students traveled to the Cayman Islands over Winter Long Weekend to serve the local community and enjoy a few days in the sun
Students traveled to the Cayman Islands over Winter Long Weekend to serve the local community and enjoy a few days in the sun
Students traveled to the Cayman Islands over Winter Long Weekend to serve the local community and enjoy a few days in the sun
Students traveled to the Cayman Islands over Winter Long Weekend to serve the local community and enjoy a few days in the sun
Students traveled to the Cayman Islands over Winter Long Weekend to serve the local community and enjoy a few days in the sun
Students traveled to the Cayman Islands over Winter Long Weekend to serve the local community and enjoy a few days in the sun
Students traveled to the Cayman Islands over Winter Long Weekend to serve the local community and enjoy a few days in the sun
Students Explore the Cayman Islands
Blair Academy

This past Long Winter Weekend, marine science, community service and daily exploration of the white sand beaches of Grand Cayman were on the itinerary for Blair students. The brainchild of longtime faculty member and current Associate Dean of Students Rod Gerdsen, the annual event focuses on marine conservation. This year, Mr. Gerdsen and his wife, Director of Admission Application Management Cassi Gerdsen, accompanied 15 ninth- through twelfth-graders to this “little piece of paradise” where everyone enjoyed the warm weather and the Caymanian culture.  

The trip included opportunities for students to get up-close-and-personal with many forms of marine life. They snorkeled at Coral Gardens, a prime location to see moray eels and damselfish, and then explored Stingray City, a natural gathering spot for southern stingrays at the mouth of the island’s bay. A trip to the Cayman Turtle Center allowed students to step into pools with juvenile green sea turtles and interact with these fascinating animals. Local birds such as the Scarlet Ibis were found in the aviary and were thrilled to be hand-fed by our students.

The Blair group also volunteered at Edna Moyle Primary School, on the north side of the island, where they assisted with an after-school program for nearly 50 students run by the YMCA. Face painting, soccer, giant Jenga and making new friends were the focus of the day.

“The Caymans trip was amazing,” said Chandler Glickman ’23, who felt that the experience helped strengthen her independence and leadership skills. “We had to challenge our fears by holding stingrays. The last day of the trip was arguably the best, though, because we spent time helping at the local elementary school. I was able to meet a young man who met my older sister Alex ’18 when she went on this trip long ago. It was an incredible experience to play with these children and learn about the Caymans from a local perspective.”

Christian DaBell ’24 cited his top three memories of the trip: spending time with new Blair friends on the beach, eating tasty island food and playing soccer with local kids. “It was great to meet new people from Blair and experience new things together,” he said. “In just a few days, I strengthened bonds with friends I’ve known for years and with people I just met. It will be great to continue to see one another on campus!”

This year marks Mr. Gerdsen’s 15th Blair trip to the Caymans, and, as always, he enjoyed introducing students, whether or not they are currently studying marine science, to the islands’ native tropical wildlife and habitats. “I hope students returned to Blair with a healthy respect and love for the marine world of the Caymans and for the culture of this island nation,” he said.

 

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