[slideshow] They say that all good things must come to an end.

Last Friday morning, we said farewell to the Cape Eleuthera Institute’s Gap Year students. We did so with heavy hearts but heads held high, confident in their abilities and potential to do good work wherever they are and to continue to be stewards of the earth, their communities, and themselves.

In their final weeks, Cole, Jon, Shelby, Shaquel, Sarah, and Lulu worked feverishly on piecing together their Independent Student Projects, which they presented to members of both the IS and CEI communities early last week. The work that has been done is incredible – everything from measuring the filtration rates of amber pen shells to studying the lifecycle of lemon sharks to surveying community members on their knowledge of conservation efforts here in South Eleuthera. It is safe to say they far exceeded expectations on all fronts and have taken the critical first steps to being successful researchers!

Tuesday night saw the entire class – along with everyone who has helped along the way – celebrating in style down at the marina. Wednesday, the students finished up their comprehensive SCUBA curriculum with one final Rescue Diving assessment and then hightailed it out to the sandbar for an afternoon of snorkeling, burying Shelby, and WOOSAW time! Thursday, we made the long trek out to Lighthouse Point in the pouring rain, which allowed everybody just enough time to get down to the beach, look around at this beautiful chunk of land, and book it back to the cars! Mother Nature was clearly upset that the Gap Program was ending and let the world know it.

The semester came to a close Thursday night with an inspiring and powerful graduation ceremony, where each student presented a peer with their diploma, and in turn was pinned with the CEI emblem. With the knowledge, experience, and relationships that were born over the last eight weeks, these six unique individuals are now empowered with the skills and self-awareness to take on the world, especially as they move forward into college. It has been a privilege to bear witness to this change, and we wish them well wherever they might go next.

And now, as one good thing comes to an end, a world of great possibilities is sure to unfold for them.