Purple and white parade toasts MVRHS graduates

Islanders show school pride and applaud grads for wrapping up a tough year.  

Hundreds of people lined up along State Beach Saturday to watch a parade celebrating the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School graduating class of 2021. — Lucas Thors

Hundreds of friends, family, school faculty, and more lined State Beach Saturday morning in gleeful anticipation of a parade to celebrate the 2021 Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) graduating class.

For many who stood holding streamers and posters with graduates’ names emblazoned in purple lettering, the auspicious occasion was a milestone in more ways than one.

“It was definitely a stressful year, and it was a lot of work — but it’s a big relief that we are finally making it through,” graduate Gabby Carr said as the procession of dozens of emergency vehicles heading the parade blared their sirens in celebration.

Gabby said she is excited to be graduating, but will miss her friends and family on the Island after she heads off to attend Roger Williams University in the fall.

After a long and successful swimming career at MVRHS, Gabby will further her passion for the sport on Roger Williams’ swim team.

Gabby’s mom, Sarah, said she has lots of mixed emotions on such a momentous day, but she is happy the year ended on a “much more positive note than when it started.”

“There was so much uncertainty at the beginning of the year, and so much change. It was really sad for the kids, to see them in their room all the time on the computer, and not being able to hang out with their friends and see their classmates,” Sarah said. “But I’m just so happy for all the graduates, and I feel like we are going to have a more normal school year next year — I’m looking forward to the future.”

Another graduate, Amber Cuthbert, said she is glad this past school year is over, and is ready to attend Castleton University and continue her athletic career by playing on its cross-country and track teams.

Amber said she has made many close friends over her years as an athlete at MVRHS, and she will miss them when she moves away. “It’s kind of sad, I am really going to miss them, but I am very excited for what’s next,” she said.

Kathryn, Amber’s older sister, said she is happy for her sister, and is excited to attend her own graduation from the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School (MVPCS) later in the day. Kathryn technically graduated last year, but explained that last year’s MVPCS graduation was postponed until this year, when both the 2020 and 2021 graduates will be celebrated.

“It’s nice being able to come back from college to support my sister and her friends that I was kind of friends with also,” Kathryn said. “I was on the swim team with Gabby for a couple of years, and it’s cool to see them graduating, too.”

Another proud mother, Lindsey BenDavid, said she is excited to see her son, Josh Brown, walk across the stage and decide which college he wants to attend.

“He has a few that he is looking into and considering,” BenDavid said. “It’s been a rough ride with this whole COVID that’s been going on. Obviously, I knew we were going to get through it all, and we did. I’m just happy that we are here now, my son is graduating, and it’s an awesome feeling.”

Graduate Michael Johnson said he is excited to have reached such an important milestone, and although it feels “weird” for the moment to finally arrive, he is glad to have made it past such a trying year.

His mother, Mary, said she is proud of Michael, and is looking forward to having the whole family over for a party to celebrate the occasion. “It feels like we are starting to pull through, and everyone feels just a little bit more positive — all our family has had our shots, so we can’t wait to spend time with each other and be able to be close to one another again. We haven’t had anyone around in so long, but now we will have a nice celebration tomorrow, and everyone will be there,” she said.

As the parade began to wrap up, parents Sara Ehren and Gwyneth Wallace stood next to an SUV decked out in purple and white, with signs with their two graduates’ names posted in the windows. 

Ehren said she is excited for her graduating son, Jorrien, and applauded all the graduates for their hard work and tenacity. “I will be empty-nesting, so it’s a difficult time for me, but I am very excited for my son, and all the opportunities he has waiting for him,” she said.

Wallace said she is particularly happy for her graduating son, Michael, as she also graduated from MVRHS. “I am absolutely filled with pride, and I think the whole Vineyard is, too,” Wallace said.



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