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MVRHS

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Martha's Vineyard Regional High School will have a new high school assistant principal, Elliott Bennett, when school starts.

Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School science teacher Elliott Bennett of Edgartown has been promoted to assistant principal. A science teacher since 2000, Ms. Bennett fills a position left vacant by Matthew Malowski when he was appointed adjustment/guidance counselor for the high school’s therapeutic support and alternative education programs.

Elliot Bennett

Courtesy Elliott Bennett

Elliot Bennett

Ms. Bennett joins Andrew Berry as one of two assistant principals. She will oversee 11th and12th grade students. Her duties also will include handling discipline issues, coordinating independent study and senior projects, and evaluating teachers.

Ms. Bennett has been a classroom teacher for 25 years. She has primarily taught biology at the high school and was the science department’s chairman for the last three years. She also served as the faculty advisor to the high school’s popular forensics club.

She said she decided to apply for the assistant principal job to gain a new perspective in the field of education.

“I was very happy in the classroom, but saw the coming of Gil Traverso as the new principal as being an opportunity to work in a leadership role and also help in the transition,” Ms. Bennett said.

Although she will miss the contact she had with students in the classroom, Ms. Bennett said she plans to keep in touch with them in her new role.

“I think it’s important for administrators to be visible to students and for them to recognize assistant principals are there for all the students, not just if they get in trouble, but as another adult there to help them in the school or as a mentor,” she said.

What many of her former students may miss most as the result of her move from the classroom is not having access to her pet gecko, Eric, Ms. Bennett said. Since he is not allowed in her new office, he has gone into retirement at her home.

Ms. Bennett’s two children will join her at the high school in the fall. Her daughter, Caley, 17, will be a senior, her son, Cooper, 14, an incoming freshman.

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Martha's Vineyard Regional High School will begin the school year with a school resource officer.

Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) students must retake advanced placement (AP) exams based on an allegation that improper seating during the testing could have led to cheating. Despite appeals by Island school officials that there were no improprieties during the exam, the state’s College Board invalidated the results of tests taken this spring and will require a retest by Island students.

Acting MVRHS principal Matt D’Andrea sent a letter to parents Wednesday, notifying them that students would need to re-take AP exams in U.S. History, English Language and Composition, English Literature and Composition, and World History.

“Based on an anonymous allegation of testing impropriety to Educational Testing Service, it was determined that during the AP testing there was a violation of one of the seating protocols for test security,” Mr. D’Andrea explained in his letter. “Consequently, the College Board has invalidated the results of the exam. The school has aggressively appealed this decision, arguing that despite the one oversight, the testing environment was secure and that test results are valid. Nevertheless, the appeal was denied.”

To help students prepare for retaking the exams, Mr. D’Andrea said the high school has arranged two-hour study sessions for them to review material with the course instructors the week before the retests, which will be conducted at MVRHS.

“Please be advised that all AP test retakes are optional,” Mr. D’Andrea said. “If your child chooses to not take the exam, your child’s AP designation with final grade will still be on his/her transcript, and the initial fee will be refunded.”

Mr. D’Andrea apologized for the error on the school’s part and for the frustration and inconvenience the College Board’s decision creates for students.

“I appreciate how hard these students have worked to prepare for the exam, and we will be sure that the retake, along with any future exams, will be successfully coordinated following all of the College Board’s testing protocols,” his letter stated. “Please accept my sincere apology for this error, as I am aware of the effect that this decision has on your family.”

The College Board is a not-for-profit organization made up of more than 6,000 educational institutions worldwide, according to the College Board website. It helps students prepare for transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and success, including the SAT exam and Advanced Placement Program.

The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program enables willing and academically prepared students to pursue college-level studies, while in high school. Many four-year colleges and universities, but not all, grant students college credit or allow them advanced placement in a higher course level, based on their successful AP exam scores.

The College Board contracts the Educational Testing Service, also a non-profit organization, to administer the Advanced Placement Program.

For some students, the retesting will be more than an inconvenience. In an email to The Times Friday, Louis de Geofroy of West Tisbury described the complications.

“In my daughter’s case, she will be out of the country,” Mr. de Geofroy said. “The AP exam is a test for college credit and the culmination of a year’s worth of study. This is a huge problem even for students who will be able to take the scheduled retest because they will have to revisit all the material in the entire course to prep again.”

Mr. de Geofroy also questioned the College Board’s decision, based on the testing experiences his two daughters have described to him.

“Both my older daughter, in college, and the one who took the test this year say that the seating plan required by the testing service is actually worse as far as cheating goes. Someone needs to be held accountable and perhaps enough bad press would cause the testing agency to reconsider.”

Those who wish to retake the exams must call Ruda Stone, administrative assistant to the principal, at 508-693-1033, ext. 126, or email her at rstone@mvyps.org by July 3, according to Mr. D’Andrea.

The study sessions will be held between July 7 and 10, from 9 to 11 am as follows: World History, July 7, Room 415; U.S. History, July 8, Room 102; English Literature and Composition, July 9, Room 515; and English Language and Composition, July 10, Room 413.

Exam retakes are scheduled on July 14-17 from 8 am to noon in the high school’s library conference room as follows: World History, July 14; U.S. History, July 15; English Literature and Composition, July 16; and English Language and Composition, July 17.

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The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) school committee wrapped up a laundry list of financial and other end-of-the-year items at a meeting Monday night.

Capital projects on the list for fiscal year 2015 include front entrance security upgrades, culinary arts kitchen equipment replacement, and a replacement alignment lift for the automotive department.

The committee voted to approve the capital budget as a planning document, as well as a list of expenditures from this year’s excess and deficiency funds. The committee also approved a five-year lease, at $2,700 a year, for a new refrigerated vending machine to make snacks available after school for students involved in sports and clubs.

In other business, superintendent of schools James Weiss said he is checking references and hopes to name a new high school principal by the end of this week. He thanked assistant superintendent Matt D’Andrea for serving as acting principal since late spring, and also Ruda Stone, administrative assistant to the principal, for all of her assistance.

Mr. Weiss also acknowledged a resignation letter from assistant principal Matthew Malowski, who has been appointed as a school adjustment/guidance counselor for the high school’s therapeutic support and alternative education programs. The school committee voted to accept his resignation and applauded him for his new role.

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Martha's Vineyard Regional High School will begin the school year with a school resource officer.

Superintendent of schools James Weiss and a search committee has narrowed the field of candidates for the principal’s job at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

Gilbert Traverso and David Maxwell are scheduled to visit the high school this week to meet with the administrative staff, the faculty, school committee members, and students.

Mr. Traverso, principal of the Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy in Springfield, will visit on Wednesday, June 18.

Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical High School provides academic and vocational instruction to students in grades nine through twelve for approximately 1,632 throughout the Springfield area.

Mr. Maxwell, assistant principal of West Des Moines Valley High School in West Des Moines, Iowa, will visit on Friday, June 20.

Valley High School is a three-year comprehensive high school with an enrollment of approximately 1,900 students, according to the school website. The campus is located in West Des Moines, a suburban community of approximately 55,000 residents bordering the western city limits of Des Moines.

The men will tour the high school and then be available for discussion with the various school constituencies in the library conference room, from 10 am to 3 pm. A schedule is posted on the school’s website, Edline.

The final decision of who to hire rests with Mr. Weiss.

Mr. Weiss announced the resignation of former principal Stephen Nixon, principal since 2008, on April 28. Mr. Weiss granted Mr. Nixon a leave of absence for health reasons. The next day, Mr. Weiss appointed Assistant Superintendent Matthew D’Andrea as acting principal to fill in until a new principal was hired.

At a meeting on May 5, the MVRHS school committee accepted Mr. Nixon’s resignation, effective at the end of the school year. Mr. Weiss gave the committee a copy of a principal search timeline, which he said would be a relatively quick process.

He had already posted the job on SchoolSpring.com, an online site for teaching and school jobs. Mr. Weiss put together a search committee of 8 to 12 people, including school committee members, administrators, teachers, parents, students, and community and organization members, by May 12. The position posting closed on May 21, and Mr. Weiss said he planned for the committee to review applications and select interviewees by May 27.

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All roads and walking paths led to the Oak Bluffs Campground Sunday afternoon as graduates, family, friends and well-wishers converged on the Tabernacle for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s 55th Commencement Ceremony. Even before the Tabernacle came into view the unmistakable sounds of happy voices, laughter, and the band tuning up filled the air.

Blessed by sunny skies, summery temperatures, and an Island community that had cheered, supported, and watched them grow, the seniors of 2014 giggled with anticipation as they adjusted white and purple robes and tasseled caps.

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Superintendent of Schools James Weiss addressing the graduates.

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Hartley Sierputoski receiving her diploma from Assistant Principal Andrew Berry.

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Avery Lazes was stylin' underneath his gown.

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Football Coach Donald Herman and Dawn Feinsmith.

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From left, Dori, Alex, and Tim Clark.

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From left, Claudia Taylor, Mariah Campbell, Jessica Campbell, and Ina Thigith.

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Hockey teammates Haven Huck and Callie Jackson capturing the moment.

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Isabel Smith, left, and Caroline Gazaille.

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Lily Lubin, left, and Anna Marques.

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Michael Ducatt and Keira Mercier.

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Class Essayist Nathaniel Horwitz.

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Patty Culkins, left, with daughter Sophie Ulyatt.

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From left, Master of Ceremony Sam Permar, Salutatorian Barra Peak, and Class Essayist Nathaniel Horwitz.

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Rick Bausman, left, and son, Hudson Bausman.

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Sarah Dawson hugs Vice Principal Andrew Berry

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Sarah Ortlip-Sommers, valedictorian.

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Shane Metters, left, and father Garry Metters.

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From left, Hartley Sierputoski, Isabelle Wadleigh, and Miranda Tokarz.

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Teo Azzollini (left) and Haven Huck.

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Taylor Brasefield (center) with aunt and uncle, Denise and David Brasefield.

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Chorus members Claudia Taylor, Sarah Dawson, Lorraine Menezes, Mikayla Tinus, and Emelia Cappelli.

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Juniors Elie Jordi and Emily deBettencourt were the marshals for the ceremony.

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Alistair Morgan, John Henry O'Shaughnessy, and Sarah Parece.

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Keith Dodge had advice for the students.

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Lucas Amarins and Charlotte Benjamin.

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Acting principal Matt D'Andrea presented an award to G. Galen Mayhew.

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Renata Lacerda, Edney Teles, Keilla Geddis.

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Sam Permar was the master of ceremony.

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Hats off to you grads!

Inside the Tabernacle benches began to fill early, everyone jockeying for a seat with a view. Black-robed faculty clustered at the entrance waiting to lead the procession, as giddy as their students.

Even the solemn march down the aisle to “Pomp and Circumstance” could not keep the seniors’ excited smiles and the sparkle in their eyes from shining bright. Girls in white, boys in purple, they stepped purposefully ahead while brave parents teetered on benches, cameras and iPhones held aloft. Even when the students were seated, the atmosphere still bubbled with exuberance, infectious and sweet.

Graduating senior Sam Permar emceed with style, befitting his plans to study acting at NYU Tisch. Welcoming the standing-room-only crowd, he graciously introduced speakers, songs, the Pledge of Allegiance, and kept the program moving smoothly. He issued a special welcome to Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone who was in the audience, as well as several elementary school teachers who had been influential in earlier years for the Class of 2014.

Salutatorian Barra Peak, on her way to Harvard, offered well-researched reflections on the history of public education and the ideals of school crusader Horace Mann.

“I think Horace Mann would be very pleased by The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School,” she said proudly, citing its public support, resources, tolerance, diversity, dedicated, highly trained faculty, and the fact that it is free and open to all.

“Wherever you go, I hope you will seek out new knowledge and new experiences and never close your minds to learning,” she said.

In his upbeat speech, Class Essayist Nathaniel Horwitz gave generous accolades to his classmates, singling out nearly three dozen for achievements in academics, athletics, community service, and the arts. Engaging and witty, the Harvard-bound grad had no qualms about poking fun at himself — his football career with one touchdown in three seasons, his crush on a female field hockey and lacrosse star.

“Every member of this class has been special to me, and to everyone,” he said, “Thank you for a perfect four years.”

Superintendent of Vineyard schools James Weiss, crediting a book by David McCullough Jr., exhorted students to remember they are “works in progress,” to seek a passion — “to do something for no other reason than because you love it.”

“Of course, you, the graduates of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School for 2014 are special,” declared Mr. Weiss, citing the seniors’ unusual Island upbringing, their multiple achievements and commitment to helping others.

“It is my hope that you will continue your education beyond this commencement, trying new things, sometimes successfully and sometimes not, but always learning, growing and exercising your passion,” Mr. Weiss said. “It is also my hope that you will move from here, allowing the world to know what we have already come to understand — that you are the Vineyard’s special gift, our very special graduates.

“Congratulations and thank you!”

Then, lauding her achievements in art, dance, academics, and school activities, Mr. Weiss presented the Superintendent’s Award for Academic Excellence to Valedictorian Sarah Ortlip-Sommers, who will attend Stanford.

Choral performances gave a moment to breathe and reflect: “Defying Gravity” and “Choose Something Like a Star,” the haunting senior song, Robert Frost’s poem set to music by Randall Thompson.

Praise and advice

Acting Principal Matthew D’Andrea gave high praise to Andrew Jacobs-Walsh, who will attend the University of Maine, and Jade Pine, heading to Framingham State University. Listing their many achievements, he presented each with the Vineyarder Award. The annual award honors one male and one female graduate for showing outstanding growth throughout their four years of high school.

For his outstanding leadership skills both in and out of school and “a disciplined approach to life in everything he does,” Mr. D’Andrea presented G. Galen Mayhew with the Principal’s Leadership Award.

“Princeton University will be fortunate to have him as a student next year,” Mr. D’Andrea added.

Student Council President Mary Ollen began her speech with a loving shout-out to her father, John Ollen, who was watching the ceremony from Massachusetts General Hospital via Skype. After resounding applause from the compassionate audience, she gave heart-felt thanks to high school Technical Director Woody Filley for arranging the Skype.

Ms. Ollen expressed appreciation for the Island’s generosity, from filling the seats at school plays and athletic events to contributing more than $700,000 in scholarships.

“Thank you to both Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and the Island community for supporting us,” the Wellesley-bound Ms. Ollen said. “We owe you everything.”

“Everything you do matters,” said Sarah Ortlip-Sommers in an inspiring valedictory send-off, encouraging her peers to do something positive for society. “Every good intention is important in the process of living a good life. Small kindnesses make a difference to everyone around you. So make sure that every day you do something that brings some small joy to even one person.”

She too acknowledged the uniqueness of the Island, “a community that takes care of people in need, celebrates people’s lives and looks out for one another… the sense of community and shared traditions will provide us with a source of strength for the rest of our lives.”

Retired English teacher Keith Dodge told a cautionary tale of his misspent early college days, counselling seniors to make the most of their lives and educations, and not be afraid of change and “never stop learning.”

The popular former teacher’s tips included: travel, buy property, save money, plan ahead.

“Please don’t live accidentally,” Mr. Dodge urged. “Try to know where you’re going and even make a list.”

At long last the big moment arrived. One by one the students made their way to the stage, received their coveted diplomas from Regional District Committee Chairman Colleen McAndrews, handshakes and hugs from smiling school officials.

Camera-wielding relatives pressed ever closer to the stage. Applause and cheers were nearly deafening after each name was called, well-wishers unable to contain their delight despite the program’s futile request: “Please reserve your applause until all diplomas have been awarded.”

Then it was back up the aisle to waiting hugs from proud family and joyful friends, bouquets, group photos, an evening of parties, and finally, the rest of life waiting just beyond.

Tomorrow would begin a short summer, packed with work and preparations, then transition to new lives filled with challenges and uncertainties. But for today this class of 2014 could bask in the secure love, caring, and admiration of family, friends, and its small yet formidable community.

Off to the future

Outside the Tabernacle on the sunny lawn happy pandemonium reigned, the traditional post-commencement chaos. Relatives, friends, and graduates searched for each other in the swirling crowd.

“I don’t know where my family is!” mock-wailed one pretty blonde grad.

Cameras and cell phones were everywhere, handed back and forth so everyone could get in the shot. Mothers and fathers thrust lush bouquets at white-robed girls. Graduates were deluged with hugs and slaps on the back then corralled into place for family photos. Some still wore their robes neatly, others had already divested themselves, leaving graduation garb, like high school itself, gladly behind. Everyone laughed, some cried too, caught up in emotion. It was hard to tell whether it was the ecstatic graduates or their proud parents who were smiling the widest and brightest.

Caroline King smiled joyfully for the camera, standing between her dad, Sandy King, and stepmother, Rose Walsh. But the first chance she got she dashed off to catch up with waiting friends.

Not yet college-bound, Caroline is looking forward to a year off “to figure out what’s next,” according to Ms. Walsh. She added that she is glad Caroline is taking the opportunity to explore while she is young.

Isabel Smith, headed to Elon University in the fall, was receiving hugs, greeting well-wishers, and making plans. She was excited to be hosting a party soon at her home along with two close friends, Mary Ollen and Sarah Alexander.

Teo Azzollini had party plans too. Enjoying a moment with her mother, Roberta Kirn, dad, Nicky Azzollini, and her sister, Marta, a May UMass grad, Teo, who will also attend UMass, said she had attended eight parties on Saturday and was counting on at least three more later in the afternoon.

She said her day’s highlights were Mary Ollen’s speech “and celebrating with my family.”

John Henry O’Shaughessy was all smiles, surrounded by male friends and wearing a colorful scarf patterned on the Irish flag around his neck. His next step is Westfield State University.

Also grinning from ear to ear was Keira Mercier, posing for photos with her sister, i-coming senior Taija Browne. Keira reported she is joining the U.S. Army and will head for training to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. She follows in the steps of relatives and a close family friend who have served in the military.

“Walking across the stage, knowing I’m done with high school,” was the best part of the ceremony for her, she said mischievously.

Smiling just as broadly was her mother, Lindsey. “I’m very proud!” she said, holding her daughter’s flowers while the exuberant grad flew off to hug classmates.

“I’m very excited!” said Molly Wallace about her plans to attend Northeastern University’s Pre-Med program. Her goal: to be a pediatric neonatal cardiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Family resemblance was unmistakable as she posed for the camera with her mom, Patty.  Big brother Jordan stood patiently nearby, taking care of Molly’s big bouquet.

While brimming with pride, Ms. Wallace admitted she would miss her daughter’s cheerful presence at home. “I’ve already made hotel reservations for a September visit,” she said happily.

“I think this was one of the nicest graduations ever,” said Megan Alley of Oak Bluffs, here to celebrate and congratulate track star Jeremy Alley-Tarter, her grandson who will be attending Assumption College. “The speeches were wonderful and I heard a lot of love.”

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Valedictorian Sarah Ortlip-Sommers, who is headed to Stanford in the fall, told her class, "small kindnesses make a difference to everyone around you."

All roads led to the Oak Bluffs Campground Sunday afternoon as graduates, family, friends and well-wishers converged on the Tabernacle for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s 55th Commencement Ceremony.

Sam Permar, left, MC'ed the ceremony. Barra Peak, center, is the class salutatorian and will attend Harvard in the fall, along with Nathaniel Horwitz, right, the class essayist.

Photo by Ralph Stewart

Sam Permar, left, MC’ed the ceremony. Barra Peak, center, is the class salutatorian and will attend Harvard in the fall, along with Nathaniel Horwitz, right, the class essayist.

Blessed by sunny skies, summery temperatures, and an Island community that had cheered, supported, and watched them grow, the seniors of 2014 giggled with anticipation as they adjusted white and purple robes and caps. Even the solemn march down the aisle to “Pomp and Circumstance” could not hide their excited smiles and the sparkle in their eyes.

Graduating senior Sam Permar emceed with style, welcoming the standing-room-only crowd, graciously introducing speakers.

Sarah Shaw Dawson, headed to UVM  in the fall, gets a hug from vice principal Andrew Berry.

Sarah Shaw Dawson, headed to UVM in the fall, gets a hug from vice principal Andrew Berry.

Superintendent of Vineyard schools Dr. James Weiss  urged students to remember they are “works in progress,” to seek their passion – “something you do because you love it.”

“You are the Vineyard’s special gift, our very special graduates,” he concluded. “Congratulations!”

“Thank you to both Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and the Island community for supporting us,” said student council president Mary Ollen. “We owe you everything.”

Lily Lubin and Anna Marques give the thumbs up to graduation.

Photo by Ralph Stewart

Lily Lubin and Anna Marques give the thumbs up to graduation.

Soon would come an all-too-short summer packed with work and preparations, then transition to a new life filled with challenges and uncertainties. But for today this class of 2014 could bask in the secure love, caring, and admiration of family, friends, and its small yet formidable community.

Tallula Brodsky listens to the speakers.

Photo by Ralph Stewart

Tallula Brodsky listens to the speakers.

“Everything you do matters,” said valedictorian Sarah Ortlip-Sommers in an inspiring send-off to her classmates. “Every good intention is important in the process of living a good life. Small kindnesses make a difference to everyone around you. So make sure that every day you do something that brings some small joy to even one person.”

Lucas Amarins and Charlotte Benjamin.

Photo by Meg Higgins

Lucas Amarins and Charlotte Benjamin.

At long last the big moment arrived: the awarding of diplomas. One by one the students made their way to the stage, received the coveted diploma with warm handshakes and hugs.

Graduated!

Photo by Meg Higgins

Graduated!

Applause and cheers were nearly deafening after each graduate’s name was called, well-wishers unable to contain their delight despite the program’s futile request: “Please reserve your applause until all diplomas have been awarded.”

Then it was back up the aisle to waiting hugs from proud family and joyful friends, bouquets, group photos, an evening packed with parties, and finally, the rest of life just beyond.

Avery Lazes might win the prize for most interesting under-gown outfit.

Photo by Ralph Stewart

Avery Lazes might win the prize for most interesting under-gown outfit.

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Martha's Vineyard Regional High School principal Stephen Nixon, who submitted his resignation last week, is shown greeting students on the first day of school last September.

Updated 5:25 pm, Monday, April 28, 2014.

In a letter to parents sent Monday afternoon, Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools (MVPS) Superintendent James Weiss announced that Stephen Nixon, principal of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) for the past six years, had submitted his resignation effective at the end of the current school year.

Mr. Weiss also announced he had granted Mr. Nixon a leave of absence. “I know I speak for everyone when I wish Steve the best,” Mr. Weiss said.

Principal Stephen Nixon entertained students at the 2011 MVRHS graduation ceremonies.

File photo by Ralph Stewart

Principal Stephen Nixon entertained students at the 2011 MVRHS graduation ceremonies.

In response to an inquiry last week from The Times about the status of Mr. Nixon, Mr. Weiss said Mr. Nixon, 57, had requested a leave of absence for health reasons. Mr. Weiss said he granted that request. Last week Mr. Weiss said there was no time period specified.

In his letter to parents dated April 28, Mr. Weiss said he has appointed Assistant Superintendent Matthew D’Andrea as acting principal. “Over the next few weeks, we will begin the process to select a new high school principal,” he said.

The news arrived at the same time that students returned from a one-week spring vacation break.

“Steve has been principal for almost six years, and on the staff for 16, as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal,” Mr. Weiss told The Times in a phone conversation Monday. “Certainly he’s had a good career at the high school.”

Mr. Weiss said he would present Mr. Nixon’s letter of resignation at a meeting of the MVRHS school committee on May 5. Over the next few weeks, he said he would begin the process to select a new principal, starting with the appointment of a search committee.

“We will be contacting the NAACP and the Tribe, and the committee will involve students, staff, community members, and school committee members, as well,” Mr. Weiss said. “I’ll be working out the details.”

Wonderful years

In an email to The Times late Monday, Mr. Nixon said he asked Mr. Weiss for a medical leave for the remainder of the school year, based on his doctor’s advice.

“The health issues are something I have been dealing with throughout this school year,” Mr. Nixon said. “While I was out we had some conversations as a family to decide what was best for us in the long run. Based on our decision we decided it was best at this point in time to resign.”

Mr. Nixon provided The Times with a copy of his resignation letter.

“After spending 16 wonderful years at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School I realize that I have accomplished many of the goals I set out to tackle when I moved into administration. We have an in-house alternative program, a Therapeutic Support Program, some of the highest test scores in school history, a Freshman year that totally changes our perspective on the transition year, and the introduction of a new nursing program to name a few.

“Recently our family has looked at a lot of opportunities that have presented themselves to us, most being off-Island, and we feel the time is right for us to take advantage of these, as we look to the final years of our professional careers. So, it is with great sadness, and yet a feeling of excitement, that I would like to announce my resignation as Principal of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School effective June 30, 2014.

“It has been an honor to work with some of the greatest teachers and administrators in education. It has been a privilege to work with so many dedicated, parents, community members, and town governments. Most of all it has been life changing working with the greatest students anywhere.

“I wish you all well and our family will always have fond memories of you and you will be greatly missed.”

Mr. D’Andrea takes over

Mr. D’Andrea, a former elementary school principal in Mattapoisett, was named the new assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for the MVPS in August 2013 and joined the Vineyard school system that fall. He filled a position left vacant by the resignation of Laurie Halt.

Mr. D’Andrea has a doctorate in policy and law from Northeastern University and a master’s degree in elementary education. He is state certified as a superintendent/assistant superintendent, principal/assistant principal, and teacher.

At the time Mr. Weiss announced the selection of Mr. D’Andrea, he commented on what made Mr. D’Andrea stand out from the other candidates. “I would say two things were really important,” Mr. Weiss said. “I think he brings strong interpersonal skills to the job, and he’s got some good experience in terms of working with curriculum and working with teachers.”

Successful in life

Stephen Nixon was named principal of MVRHS in February 2008. He took the reins from Principal Margaret (Peg) Regan on July 1.

Mr. Nixon had served as the regional high school’s assistant principal since 2004, and he had been on the faculty since 1998. He emerged as the only local candidate among four finalists chosen by a high school principal search committee from a field of 12.

In making the appointment, Mr. Weiss cited Mr. Nixon’s knowledge of the Island and his experience.

In the final stages of the principal search process, 65 Island teachers endorsed Mr. Nixon as their choice for their next principal.

At the time, Mr. Nixon said his goal  “is not just to make our young people successful in school, but to make them successful in life. And so we’re going to look at what it takes in this day and age to get them prepared for what’s ahead for them so we’ve given them everything possible to be successful.”

Mr. Nixon earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from Montclair State University in New Jersey, where he grew up. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, Mr. Nixon became a high school history teacher, taking night classes to earn his master’s degree.

He began working as a history teacher at MVRHS after he and his wife, Maryellen (Talon), moved to the Vineyard in 1998. Between 2002 and 2004, Mr. Nixon took his first administrative position as the interim dean of students, and he was appointed assistant principal in 2004.

While working as assistant principal, Mr. Nixon pursued his doctorate degree in educational leadership online at the University of Sarasota in Florida. It took him several years to achieve his goal, because he first had to complete coursework in residence at the university on weekends and during school vacations before his acceptance into the doctoral program. He successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation at the university in 2009.

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Engineering Challenge first place team members Emma Johnson (left) and Barra Peak display their ribbons.

Each month Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School students are given the opportunity to compete in an engineering challenge. The goal of the challenge, according to school officials, is to give students an opportunity to experience the work process of engineering a design challenge, and to collaborate with one another to get the job done well, in a different competition than the yearly science fair.

The students are issued a design challenge at the meet. Working in teams of two or three, they have 45 minutes to complete the task. Then the designs are evaluated to determine the meet winners.

The April challenge, held last week, was to create a lunchbox and an insulated beverage container. Requirements for the lunchbox were a functioning handle and the ability to carry some Pringles chips and eggs without breakage if the box was shifted around or dropped. The beverage container, which students created from a water bottle and a variety of insulating materials, had to maintain water at a set temperature.

Winners were determined by scoring a lunchbox drop test and carrying test, and a beverage container temperature check.

First place went to Emma Johnson and Barra Peak, second place to Jared Livingston and Chris Aring, and third place to Peter Ruimerman.

The April challenge concluded the 2013-14 school year competition. All members of winning teams accumulated points since last fall, and those with the most points received awards as the grand winners.

Peter Ruimerman took first place overall, Galen Mayhew, Kevin Montambault, second place, and Zach Bresnick, third place. Connor Downing, Thorpe Karabees, Andrew Ruimerman, and Willow Wunsch earned honorable mentions.

MVRHS science teacher Natalie Munn organized and ran the meets, with the help of a team of teachers including Chris Connors, Anna Cotton, Catherine DeGrandpre, Dana Munn, and Dawne Nelson.

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Martha's Vineyard's Austin Chandler gains a stride on a Nauset Warrior.

Tyler Paulson, Tony Canha, Matt Davies, and Taymon Brown scored two goals apiece as the Vineyard varsity boys lacrosse team doubled up the Nauset Warriors 12-6 Saturday afternoon in a non-league contest at Dan McCarthy Field in Oak Bluffs.

Andrew Fournier gets checked by a Nauset player as Vineyard teammate Luke McCracken (right) runs in to assist.

Photo by Ralph Stewart

Andrew Fournier gets checked by a Nauset player as Vineyard teammate Luke McCracken (right) runs in to assist.

The Vineyarders (4-3) seized control of the game by outscoring the Warriors 5-1 in the third quarter. Sam Burke, Mike Morris, Spencer Schofield, and Wayman Harrison scored the other Vineyard goals. Sam Burke (2), Taymon Brown, Austin Chandler, and Tyler Paulson had assists.

“All in all, I thought it was a pretty good win,” Vineyard coach Chris Greene said. “We still have some work to do but that was definitely the effect of a great practice yesterday. As I just said to the fellows, if we continue to work that hard every day in our practice sessions, then it translates on to the field.”

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Emerson Mahoney (left) and Mitchell Chaves celebrate after the final out.

Mike Mussell drove in Silas Berlin with a single down the left-field line in the bottom of the sixth inning as Martha’s Vineyard shutout Bourne, 1-0, Friday at Vineyard Baseball Park.

Berlin singled, then stole second and third base, before crossing the plate with the winning run.

Vineyard starter Tim Roberts pitched a complete game to earn the win, conceding just three hits, striking out four, and walking none. The Canalmen went down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh on a pop-up to second, a line-out to second, and a fly ball to center.

The Vineyarders (3-4) had four hits in the game and avenged a 3-2 opening day defeat April 2 at Bourne.

“It’s nice to get one of those; we haven’t gotten one in a while,” Vineyard coach Gary Simmons said after his team’s first win in four games. “The kids played well, pitched well, played good defense — that’s what it takes. We hit a little bit. It was nice to use the advantage of our team speed.”

Jayvees beat Bourne in nail-biter

The Vineyard jayvee baseball team avenged a 15-run defeat two weeks ago by beating Bourne, 5-4 Friday, in Oak Bluffs. Elias Fhagen-Smith pitched five strong innings, giving up three hits for two runs and striking out seven batters. Aidan Aliberti closed out the win, pitching the last two innings, giving up two runs while striking out three, including the last two batters with the tying run at third and go-ahead run at second base in the seventh inning. Aliberti also chipped in with two hits. James Sashin had a hit and two RBIs.

The jayvees also defeated Blackstone Valley, 8-3, on April 14 and Bishop Stang, 8-6, on April 9.