‘A very different, unique experience’

MVRHS graduation held at Ag Society property.


On Sunday evening, the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 2020 gathered on the fields of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Hall for a historic commencement celebration. Clad in the traditional graduation attire of robes, sashes, and caps, and with the necessary addition of matching purple face masks, MVRHS seniors came together, six feet apart, for one final festivity. 

“It was a very different, unique experience,” said Imani Hall, a graduating senior. “Being able to recognize all the hard work and growth we’ve had this year, and all the adversity we’ve faced, it was just so beautiful to see us all together.”

Congratulatory signs honoring each member of the graduating class — 156 in total — decorated Panhandle Road as parents drove into Agricultural Society property in West Tisbury. Graduations are typically held in early June at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs, but the ceremony was delayed and the venue was changed as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

In a celebration of silver linings, families, limited to one car each, lined up in their vehicles behind and adjacent to the event venue to watch their children receive their diplomas. While instructed to stay in their vehicles throughout the ceremony, many families got creative, decorating their cars with signs and streamers, camping in the beds of their trucks, sitting on their roofs, or taking advantage of their convertibles. To ensure that all spectators could see the event, a large LED screen projected the ceremony at the front of the venue, and speeches were played over the radio for families to tune into. 

At the start of the ceremony, all students stood as the traditional graduation song, “Pomp and Circumstance,” played and the crowd applauded. Julia Gomes, the master of ceremonies, was the first speaker of the night, and greeted the crowd in both English and Portuguese. In her address, she said that struggle and resilience shape us more than successes do, underscored the importance of kindness, and praised her class as being both impressive and historic. 

The ceremony featured seven student speakers, many of whom noted the unprecedented nature of both their senior year and their graduation. “Who knew what Zoom was six months ago?” joked Jackson Pachico, MVRHS’s first class-selected speaker.

Others focused on America’s current political state, and the inspirational work of their peers. During a time of extreme political division, heightened systemic racism, humanitarian crises, and lack of social justice, the world needs influential people full of life and drive like all of you,” said student council president Emily Gazzaniga. “There is so much positive change and influence to be had in this world; don’t be afraid to be a part of it.” 

This year’s graduation, which marks MVRHS’s 61st commencement celebration, is also the first year the ceremony is bilingual, with opening remarks made in both English and Portuguese. Victoria Krasa gave the school’s first Portuguese commencement speech, a heartfelt address about her Brazilian family members and her life as an immigrant. “I am proud to be part of this community, to say I am Brazilian, and that I am surrounded by people who, no matter the situation, would always try to help one another,” Krasa said. 

This novel celebration was planned in late May, after the high school received guidelines from the commissioner of the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Students were instructed to not throw their caps, and to pick up their diplomas at the high school in the upcoming days. While certainly not the ceremony they had expected, parents and students appeared relieved to be able to commemorate their achievements in-person. 

“When the ceremony and graduation music came on, we got chills,” said Julia Hatt, the mother of graduating senior Kenny Hatt. “The kids had their moment, they had their time, the graduation they had thought of. We are so forever grateful for that.”

The only diploma given during the ceremony was given to Wayne Tackabury, whose son, Davin Tackabury, died in September. For Tackabury, a round of applause ensued, with many parents honking from their cars, and students giving a standing ovation. 

During the remainder of the evening, many families exited their cars to watch their graduating seniors be honored on stage. Social distancing while outside a vehicle was observed, and masks were worn by all attendees. Support for each student was shown with car honks, applause, and supportive shouts. After the final name was announced, the crowd erupted in a sea of cheers and honks, a final celebration for the class of 2020. 


  1. Great photos! The memories of this beautiful and unusual graduation will last forever. Most high school graduations are forgotten after a few years, but not this one! Congratulations to all the graduates and those who helped them along the way.

  2. Beautiful pictures, beautiful occasion. This class will be the first to experience their graduation ceremonies this way. I compliment everyone on their decorum, their enthusiasm, and the logistics of setting this up. Have great futures, one and all.

  3. Pandemic or not, the graduates got their day. Congrats to them, and everyone who managed to pull this off.

  4. The event was spectacular and the effort was greatly appreciated by parents, families and students for sure. The principal should have checked her political views at the gate to the Ag Hall. This was a celebration of these students and all their hard work, accomplishments and individually and collectively not an opportunity for subtle expressions of political leanings – period.

  5. OBjohn, I was not there and if a tax payer paid hired principal of the school district displayed political leanings, that is a no-no. Not ever, in a professional capacity for which one was hired, but especially not at the celebration of the graduates. Low rent, dears, low rent.

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