Graduation is a bittersweet moment. One door closes, another opens. But, for the 184 graduates of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS), the rain cleared Sunday and the clouds parted just in time to say goodbye to high school, once and for all.
At roughly 1 pm, a sea of seniors, draped in their signature purple and white caps and gowns, gathered around the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. Reminiscing about the good old days, students shared with a reporter their feelings about the day’s events that were about to begin.
“It’s very overwhelming,” said Jacob Oliver, 18, as he waited. “Between graduation and graduation parties, it’s a lot.”
“But we’re excited,” his friend, Darci Whitney, 18, said.
Eighteen-year-old Margaret “Maggie” Riseborough, is excited.
“It’s definitely a bittersweet moment,” Maggie said. “I love this class, but I’m really excited to go to college.” She will attend UMass Amherst in the fall.
Seniors Alayna Hutchinson, 18, Fionnuala Howell, 18 and Skylah Forend, 17, posed for some photos and a few laughs before the ceremony began. Fionnuala, who is the 2013 Class Essayist, said, “I feel a little sick.” She had the pre-speech jitters. “I’m nervous, but I’m excited.” She will go to U.C Berkley in the fall.
“It’s a tight class,” Alayna said. “We’ve definitely gotten closer, especially in the last couple months.”
While some students chose to punctuate their costume with pops of color in the form of fancy footwear and other accents, others took a more traditional approach.
Young Brothers to Men – a mentoring and community service group on campus – saw a surplus of students add multicolored scarves and pins over their robes as a sign of solidarity.
“This is a group that represents minorities in the school,” said the group’s vice president, Brandon Watkins, 17. “Students wear these every year so we’re carrying on the tradition,” he said. He said he had become involved, thanks to the inspiration of advisor W. Leo Frame Jr.
Mr. Frame, an MVRHS teacher, started the group back in 1990, but he will retire this year.
As graduates slowly marched to “Pomp and Circumstance,” parents, relatives and the occasional tourist looked on. Faculty members relished the sweet success of another senior class on its way.
Master of ceremony Madeline Webster opened the festivities saying, “This is intense,” before reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. She invited Class Salutatorian, Julia Cooper – “one of the wittiest people I know” – to the podium.
“I cannot imagine a struggle more real than applying to college,” told her fellow graduates. “It’s all like one really long, twisted episode of Say Yes to the Dress, where the dresses end up choosing you … But now, that struggle is over and you’re ready to walk down the aisle to your intellectual future, high school diploma in hand.”
Following Julia, Class Essayist Fionnuala Howell reminded her fellow classmates to seize the day.
“Today we should appreciate what this Island home has taught us, which is that we have the ability to kick back, relax, and enjoy the moment,” she said.
Highlights of the ceremonies included a commentary by the president of the Cape Cod Community College, Dr. John Cox, followed by a performance of the senior’s chosen song, “The Road Not Taken,” and a presentation of the Vineyarder and Principal’s Leadership Awards.
Student council president Samuel Oslyn, received a rousing response from his opening line “Good afternoon, muggles.” Continuing in that vein, Samuel said, “There are going to be so many wonderful new discoveries for us to make, such as perfecting the art of the microwaveable meal, finding a cost-friendly solution to weekly laundry obligations, and inventing new, more ‘grown-up’ excuses for our self-perpetuating habits of procrastination.”
He added a few words of wisdom. “Take risks. Learn from your mistakes. Be a boss. Have fun. Get smart. Make good decisions, children.” Valedictorian John “Jack” Roberts took a more subdued approach, opening with a quote from Mother Teresa. “We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”
He continued, “The day we took our first steps, our first words, our first day of kindergarten, our first time riding a bike, are moments of relative insignificance in the ultimate scheme of life. Yet they are all moments that shape us. They are the ripples of our life, and these ripples became the wave that carried each of us to this day.”
Before presenting diplomas, principal Stephen Nixon had some parting words for the class.
“Leaving a mark takes time and dedication,” Mr. Nixon, a musician as well as an educator, said. “Leave your mark on the world and remember, as the Beatles said, ‘And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.'”