Charter School seniors enjoy lunch with board member

Steve Nierenberg sits down with kids at Polly Hill.

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Charter school seniors stand for a picture with their longtime friends and classmates. — Lucas Thors

The Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School (MVPCS) graduating seniors sat down to have lunch with the vice president of the MVPCS board, Steve Nierenberg, at the Far Barn at Polly Hill Arboretum.

The luncheon with seniors is an annual tradition that has been going on since the school was founded, and has been hosted at Polly Hill for 10 years.

Nierenberg picked up some sandwiches and other lunch-bites for seniors from 7a in West Tisbury, then had a chat with them about their time at the school and what the next chapter of their lives may hold.

Nierenberg asked what the students will miss the most about the Charter School, to which senior Tatianna Reyes said, “I am really going to miss the learning environment at the Charter School. It is unique because the education is really centered around the student, and there are lots of people who want to see you succeed.”

Reyes said she is excited to spend the summer with her friends and have a “last hoorah” before heading to the University of Bangkok.

Another senior, Ryan Laslovich, said he is going to miss the school as a whole, and what it represents. “This school has been a home for me since I came here; it has really helped me find my way, and taught me to become myself,” Laslovich said. “I really struggled with discovering who I was as a person when I was younger, but now I am very confident.”

Students also talked with Nierenberg about what they hope for the future of the Charter School.

“I hope the school still treats people as people, not just as students. They look at you as an individual and try to help you become your best,” Reyes said. “It’s so important.”

When Laslovich returns to visit his beloved old school after heading off to Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island to study culinary arts, he said he hopes the school “stays the course” and continues to foster close communication and bonding between teachers and pupils.

“The school is unique in that teachers and students work together to help each other — I hope that in the future, there will always be that close connection, and I believe there will be,” Laslovich said.

Senior Julia Kane agreed with Laslovich, saying that she hopes the school will always hold its core principles as the highest priority. “This doesn’t mean we don’t want change, but we think those pillars of the school must be upheld, because they are what make the education so special,” Kane said.

Kane said the school’s individualized approach to education has catalyzed her interest in writing, and has encouraged her to use her passion and skills to her advantage. “The teachers really show you how to not be scared of life, and how to always be confident in yourself,” Kane said.

Each senior at the Charter School works on a portfolio project of their choosing, and Kane said she chose to create a poetry notebook with her mentor, Fae Kontje-Gibbs.

Another senior, Aiden Donovan, said he worked on a screenprinting project that has prepared him for his summer job at a Martha’s Vineyard screenprinting shop, and will continue on to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.