School officials bid a warm farewell to Dhakir Warren Monday night at a meeting of the Martha’s Vineyard High School Committee. Warren, the high school’s administrator of student affairs, was recently named as the next executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Boys & Girls Club. While he will stay on at the school until June, Warren prerequested the opportunity to comment on his departure and compliment those he’s worked with. He reserved special gratitude for high school Principal Sara Dingledy.
“There are not many people I’ve known who could maintain the resilience and the determination that you can maintain with the poise and the dignity and the grace and the integrity by which you maintained it,” Warren said. “Having experienced some of the challenges that come with educating our youth, and shifting cultures and shifting the way we think about how best to do that — so thank you so much for making me feel that much more empowered and ready to go out and further our work through a different lens — to be able to more holistically serve kids and to continue down a path of partnership and collaboration.”
Dingledy had plenty of praise for Warren, too. “The whole faculty is going to miss him here,” she said. “He’s made us better. He’s made us all more reflective. I think we’re in a good space to carry that work forward. We’re going to miss him personally …” She described Warren as a “dear friend of all of us,” who she anticipated would share his education and nonprofit experience to the benefit of the Boys & Girls Club.
“Hats off,” she said.
Committee chair Kimberly Kirk, who is vice president of the Boys & Girls Club, expressed a mixture of regret for the high school and contentment for the club.
“As sad as I am for the school, I’m excited for the club,” she said. “I think Dakhir is going to serve us well as our new executive director. I’m so proud he’ll be joining the organization and continuing the work he started at the high school. And Sara, to you, I’m sorry.”
“Matt and Richie, thank you both,” Warren said to Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools Superintendent Matthew D’Andrea and Assistant Superintendent Richie Smith. “It’s a thankless job, especially when you’re not necessarily seen. But I know the work you guys do is so so incredible. And you’ve provided so much support for us at the high school, and I appreciate it.”
D’Andrea returned the thanks.
“I just wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you to Dhakir for the support he’s provided our students, our school administration, our teachers,” D’Andrea said. “It is a loss. My heart sank when I heard the news, but I am happy that you’re going to still be on the Island and supporting our kids. So I just want to say thank you for everything you’ve done, and I look forward to our continued partnership.”
Softball team approved
In a 6-1 vote, the committee authorized a co-op agreement with the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School for girls softball players, and a waiver for seventh and eighth graders to join the high school softball team.
Athletic director Mark McCarthy requested the co-op agreement and waiver for seventh and eighth graders to make a composite varsity softball team. McCarthy said the waiver has been utilized for the past three years, and co-op student athletes from the Charter School already participate on the swim team. Between the seventh and eighth graders, Charter School students, and high school students, McCarthy hoped enough athletes would sign up so the high school could field a varsity team. There will not be a junior varsity team, he noted, as there aren’t enough athletes. About 10 girls are interested in varsity softball this year from the high school, McCarthy said.
A “survey of interest” was put together with Nell Coogan on Friday, he said, to all girls in the high school to see if that number might be increased.
“And those numbers pretty much didn’t change,” he said ”We’re still at about 10 girls who completed the survey — who said they would be interested in participating in softball.”
Thus far, junior high administrators have expressed support for the waiver, he said, and the Cape and Islands Athletic Directors have approved it.
“With your approval, I can then submit it to District 9 for their approval, which would allow us to have both co-op, and junior high, grades 7 and 8, softball participation for this spring.”
McCarthy said he was hoping for “somewhere between 14 and 16” girls to join the team.
Committee member Michal Watts asked if the seventh and eighth grade athletes would get weekly COVID-19 tests at their respective schools.
“They would probably be included in the high school testing,” McCarthy said.
Committee member Roxanne Ackerman expressed support for the co-op and waiver. “It’s a great pastime,” she said of softball. “It’s a great sport for women … let the girls participate.”
Committee member Amy Houghton asked if there could be a junior varsity team. Playing “older and more seasoned” student athletes was of concern to her. “It just seems like that could be a little bit difficult and challenging,” she said.
“We could,” McCarthy said of fashioning a junior varsity team. But he noted past experience had shown girls from lower grades have done well at the varsity level.
“Sam [Burns] believes that this group would be able to do that as well,” he said of the varsity coach.
Committee member Megan Anderson suggested the waiver may set a difficult precedent for other sports, with younger grades wanting to ascend to the varsity level. She was particularly concerned about seventh graders, and said sports travel with older kids “sometimes brings up a level of concern.”
Michael Watts, Skipper Manter, Megan Anderson, Amy Houghton, Kathryn Shertzer, and Roxane Ackerman voted in favor of the waiver and the co-op. Chair Kimberley Kirk voted against them. Chris O’Brien and Robert Lionette weren’t present.