Graduation: Laughter and tears
In the hours preceding graduation, a continuous purple and white trickle of students garbed in graduation robes flowed towards the Tabernacle in the Campground in Oak Bluffs, adjusting each other's graduation caps, sharing hugs and memories, enjoying their final moments of high school.
As commencement neared, the men and women formed two lines forming a semicircle around the friends and family members seated in the Tabernacle. Junior class marshals Lonni Phillips and Christopher Davies lead the class of 2009 as the purple and white clad students merged into marching order and filed into their seats as the band played. Just enough pomp for the parents, sufficient circumstance for the students.
Master of Ceremonies Kia Minor, known for her open and outgoing manner, welcomed the class with emotion. In a teary voice, she expressed gratitude to all who had made it possible for her to be there on that day, making special note of how her guidance counselor had helped her through high school. "Alright," she then remarked, "Enough with the teary stuff."
What followed was light-hearted. Given a podium and their peers as a captive audience, the student speakers expressed the moment in a variety of ways. Ms. Minor gave a list of 10 things she had learned in high school, sharing inside jokes that drew widespread laughter from the students and teachers, and slightly bemused smiles from those who didn't quite understand the significance of a Chvatal-sized cellphone.
Salutatorian Haley Koorse implored the class to keep their "sea legs," which she defined as the distinctive mannerisms that define an Islander. Student council president Maxwell Nunes began with a question. Having asked many students how they would measure the past four years, the unifying theme he seized upon was laughter. Noting all of the times his classmates had been asked to leave the library on account of their excessive merriment, Mr. Nunes remarked, "Laughter is the shortest distance between 203 people."
The comments to the senior class given by Superintendent Dr. James Weiss were of an extra-planetary nature. Calling upon lessons taught by "Star Trek", Dr. Weiss encouraged the graduates to boldly go where they had never gone before. His call for the graduates to "Live long and prosper" was met with at least one Vulcan hand salute, which many in the audience interpreted as a "V" for Vineyard.