For many seniors picking up their graduation gear at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS), it will be their first time on campus since the closing of school, and the last time inside the school as MVRHS students.
After scheduling a drive-in graduation for seniors on July 26 on the Ag Society grounds, school officials needed to find a way to outfit the students for their special day, while being cognizant of distancing measures and proper hygiene precautions.
Over the course of two days, students picked up their graduation materials in alphabetical order by last name.
Students were allowed one at a time into the lobby of the building after being screened by school nurse Linda Leonard. Leonard said she and many other faculty members spent countless hours planning and organizing the cap and gown pickup to ensure the safety of both staff and students.
“Every single element of this process is totally no-touch and sanitary,” Leonard said. Students entered the lobby of the school and were directed into the library conference room, where they deposited their school materials such as books and school team uniforms. Leonard said all the materials will sit in the room for multiple days in order to make sure they are sanitary.
Even the pens that students used to sign their names on yard signs and the massive banner that will be used during a graduation parade on Sunday were chucked into a box for decontamination.
Along with their caps and gowns, seniors received a significant amount of swag in a goodie bag prepared by the high school. A number of donors contributed to the pickup and the goodie bags, including Point B Realty, Martha’s Vineyard Bank, M.V. Screen Printing, and members of the faculty and of the public. The Dukes County Sheriff’s Office, through the dedication of community outreach director Sterling Bishop, provided a professional DJ booth, with Bishop as the mixmaster. Lines of chalk and tape were set up both in front of the school lobby, and throughout the inside of the school, in order to denote safe distances.
Students signed their name and town on an order list for specialty zip code T shirts provided by Point B Realty. Inside the goodie bag given to each senior is a specialty MV T shirt with “class of 2020” on the back, a parting message to students from each department, chocolate chip cookies, and a laser-carved keychain of Martha’s Vineyard made by computer tech teacher Chris Connors. And thanks to generous donors, each student received $60 in gift certificates to Island businesses.
Overall, close to $10,000 was donated in a week’s time by businesses, Island organizations, staff, and community members.
MVRHS senior Kelly Cleary said she is excited to graduate and continue her education. She noted how strange it feels for her to be back on the campus after such a long time, but said she enjoyed the visit. “It’s nice to see everybody, and give it sort of one last visit before I go,” Kelly said.
Another senior, Linda Borges, said she is proud to say that her graduation is almost official, and looks forward to having a small celebration with her family. As for the drive-through graduation ceremony, Borges said she is looking forward to seeing how it goes. “It should be interesting. Obviously it’s not the same as a conventional graduation ceremony, but I am happy we can have something in-person,” Linda said.
Senior Morgan Estrella said it feels odd having it be his last time in the building as an MVRHS student, especially with how abruptly and anticlimactically the year came to a close.
“It feels kind of strange, you know, just walking away with my cap and gown in a bag. But I know that the school is doing all that they can, so I am thankful for that,” Morgan said.
For senior Dash Christy, the entire experience for him was “surreal.”
“It’s kind of a wild feeling, you know, having this be one of the last times I will get to see all these people before graduation,” Dash said. “I am looking forward to the graduation, but we will just have to see how it goes. Whatever happens, happens.”
Senior Simone Davis said that although a drive-in graduation is “not ideal,” she is happy that there will be some sort of celebration for the hard work that all the students have endured. Simone said she will miss all the friends she has made at MVRHS, and all the teachers and faculty who have served as mentors for her over the years. “It’s really nice to see people. Old friends, and teachers, you know. I think a big part of this time of year is having some sort of closure. We spent four years at this school, and it was a long journey,” Simone said. “After all that time, it really feels like I am leaving a place that I have called home.”
Community to hold graduation parade
Starting at 1 pm on Sunday, June 7, a convoy of emergency vehicles, school staff, and faculty, family, and friends of seniors will proceed from the Oak Bluffs School toward Inkwell Beach to congratulate students on a job well done.
Graduating seniors will be parked alongside the road near the beach as the parade passes by. After passing by Inkwell Beach, the parade will make its way to State Beach and head toward the Bend in the Road.