Amid bright sunshine and a cool breeze Sunday afternoon, 160 members of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 2015 clad in white and purple robes filed into the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs and took their seats to the sound of “Pomp and Circumstance,” as beaming friends and family members stood and watched.
Master of Ceremonies Katherine Reid presided over the program with energy and frequent smiles. She explained to graduates and attendees that the ceremony was “a celebration of knowledge and journeys” the class had taken together over the previous four years, and urged her classmates to never close themselves off from experimentation.
Speakers took to the podium in turn to offer their own insights on the class of 2015, and give advice about life outside the classroom. Salutatorian Timothy Roberts opened with humor.
“I’m a competitive guy,” he said. “So naturally I hate being No. 2.”
Mr. Roberts spoke of how success is so often a numeral ranking, and asked his classmates not to measure themselves in numbers. “Don’t just be a Social Security number,” he said.
Class essayist Charlotte Potter, who spoke after Mr. Roberts, told parents that although they had been there to hold the handles as their children learned to ride bikes, it was now time to let go and run along beside them, to let the graduates learn and make their own mistakes.
Ms. Potter recalled her experience walking in the Relay for Life, where she said lanterns were used to illuminate the high school track at night. She instructed her classmates to “find a passion, ignite a lantern, and never let it burn out.”
Outgoing Superintendent of Martha’s Vineyard Schools James Weiss received special recognition. Mr. Weiss will retire the end of this month, and has been superintendent since the class of 2015 was in the third grade.
Senior Susanna von Rooyen thanked Mr. Weiss on behalf of the class for his 10 years of service, and presented him with a beach chair and beach bag filled with notes from almost every member of the graduating class. “You’ll always be super to us,” Ms. von Rooyen said.
In his message to the class, Mr. Weiss told graduates that above all else, to “be happy with who you are.” He then issued the Superintendent’s Outstanding Student Award to class Valedictorian Samantha Potter. Mr. Weiss said that Ms. Potter was a well-rounded student before she even started high school, and recounted both her personal and academic achievements.
Next to the podium was student council president Josie Iadicicco, who, on a humorous note, declared that real “stress is trying to keep these caps on.” After the laughter died down, Ms. Iadicicco gave the audience pause by addressing those students whom she said may not have felt that the school offered them the space to be the individuals they may have wanted to be. She urged them to realize that, regardless, they were integral pieces of a dynamic and accomplished class.
Valedictorian Samantha Potter offered a bit of nontraditional insight. “These should not be the best years of your life,” Ms. Potter said. “If MCAS testing, APs, vocabulary quizzes, and projects are the best years of our lives, then something is horribly wrong.”
She urged her classmates to continue the good work they started while in high school. “Make sure to live in the present, changing it as you see fit,” she said.
High School Principal Gil Traverso, who arrived on the Vineyard last August, addressed the class of what he called “future leaders performing in the present.” Mr. Traverso said that one of his biggest regrets will be having worked with this class for only a single year in their academic career.
“Always on the basis of respect and compassion, they have led,” Mr. Traverso said of the graduates.