MVRHS rescinds grass fields policy

School no longer needs to maintain grass for ‘at least 10 years.’

The MVRHS school committee voted to rescind a policy calling for the school to commit to grass fields for at least 10 years. — Lucas Thors

Updated May 9

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School committee voted to rescind a grass fields policy that was adopted in late August 2017.

At Monday’s meeting, committee members rescinded the policy that read, “The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School will maintain grass fields for a period of at least ten (10) years.”

The broad nature of the language in the policy invited interpretations to be made on whether it restricts the school from pursuing any other surface from grass, or whether the school must maintain at least one grass field.

“For purposes of clarity moving forward, I think it’s time to make a statement that, philosophically, we don’t want to have our hands tied,” member Kim Kirk said. “We would like to have all options open, and to do that I think it’s necessary to rescind this policy.”

Member Amy Houghton asked for clarification regarding whether the committee decided to have Chris Huntress create documents that would support both a synthetic or a grass infield. Chair Kris O’Brien confirmed that both options are included in the total cost of the $350,000 E&D money, should the MVC decline the application for the synthetic infield.”We have enough money to change to grass,” she said.

Houghton said the goal of including both options in the documents is that “if the MVC says, ‘There’s no way you can do a synthetic turf infield,’ then we aren’t backpedaling. Let’s make sure we have a safety net if something unprecedented comes up.”

Member Skipper Manter suggested that the school committee should have changed the policy first, before the towns voted at special town meeting.

“What the towns voted on was very specific — for a synthetic turf infield. That may have been in violation of the policy, I don’t know,” Manter said.

Member Robert Lionette agreed with Manter’s point, saying, “The wording presented to the towns isn’t quite the same as what Amy presented.”

Lionette said a plastic infield was “part of the discussion” as members of the public voted either for or against the warrant article.

“We had a standing policy that may or may not call for grass. I want to know whether that vote was in violation of the standing policy — none of us who have been involved in this want it to trip us up and leave us another six months down the road,” Lionette said. “I am asking the superintendent to seek clarity on this.”

Member Kathryn Shertzer said she “couldn’t help but giggle at the policy.”

“I felt like it was full of holes, and I didn’t feel like it called for ‘only’ grass fields. The language isn’t there. I don’t feel like it’s binding for blades of grass only,” she said.

O’Brien it would be beneficial for the committee to create a true policy manual to deal with situations such as this. “We should include in it how [a policy] is written, and how policies are revoked.”


A unified sports logo

Joe Mikos, president of the recently formed Vineyard Varsity Club, presented his mission to bring the MVRHS sports teams together under a unified logo.

“Our central mission at the Vineyard Varsity Club is to help the administration build spirit through different initiatives at the high school,” Mikos said,

There are 386 varsity athletes in the school currently, counting dual-sport athletes, and roughly 20 varsity sports, Mikos said.

“Each one of those sports has a different logo, a different color purple — needless to say they are quite fractured,” Mikos said. “What logo would go in the middle of that beautiful turf field that is going to come in soon, we all hope?”

Mikos said the Vineyard Varsity Club hopes to rebrand the entire sports community at the high school. The initiative has received the blessing of many of the largest booster clubs on-Island, Mikos said.

“School pride doesn’t happen with a brand-new field, or arena, or building, it happens from within,” he said. “It happens when a student believes they are part of something bigger than themselves.”

The goal of the initiative, according to Mikos, is giving kids an identity and defining what being a Vineyarder really means.

“We are entering into the design phase soon. We are hoping to come back to the school with a gift of this [mark], at no cost to you all,” Mikos said.

Mikos said he is not trying to diminish the importance of the MVRHS seal.

Houghton said she doesn’t think the school should make any decisions without having the undivided support of the entire student body.

“I wouldn’t support this until we know that every sports team in this school is enthusiastically behind it,” Houghton said. “If you want this to be about spirit from within, we need to bring everyone to the table. If you don’t, there are some who will feel left out.”

Athletic director Mark McCarthy said the first phase of the initiative is to “get to a point where we have choices.”

He said the group that designs these emblems provide a plethora of options for schools to choose from, and they aren’t set in stone. “These logos are completely customizable, and they can be used by any sport. But right now, the sports are all over the place because the booster clubs are doing whatever they want with their logos,” McCarthy said. “We need to become one, and we definitely want buy-in from everyone.”

Updated to change Kris O’Brien’s quote on an alternate grass field plan in the MVC application. -Ed.