The excitement was high on BC Ferries’ Gabriola Island route Monday as students filled their floating school bus to be ferried from their quiet Gulf Island to Grade 8 to 12 in Nanaimo.

“I’m excited,” said student Aylan Vincent, who was heading to her first day of Grade 9.

“I like going back to school.

“I’m excited,” said Eva Smith, a Grade 10 student.

“But I’m also like I want more summer.”

One hundred students travel the 20-minute boat ride from Gabriola to Nanaimo every day and the crew welcomes kids that are growing up before their eyes.

“It’s a big bus,” said BC Ferries mate Keith Davis.

“It’s just a bus on the water and with having the kids, it’s a school bus for that hour.”

This uniquely west coast way to school, with a bus waiting at the ferry terminal to finish the journey, is being repeated in coastal communities up and down Vancouver Island this September.

“We help about 500 students get to school every day,” said BC Ferries Communications Manager Astrid Braunschmidt.

“From Alert Bay to Bowen Island to Gabriola to Nanaimo, yeah its a long day for them too. They sometimes have to get up at six in the morning to catch that bus and they don’t get home till five in the evening maybe just in time for supper,” he said.

All in a day’s work for the growing school children of our Gulf Islands. A small price to pay, they say, for living in paradise.

Skye Ryan