Listen and learn


We interrupt the adult bickering over the field project at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School to remind you that a school’s priority is to educate children, and to create an environment where the Island’s young people can thrive.

Lately, the adults haven’t been setting the best examples. But enough about that.

Graduation season is a reminder that there is a lot that students at the Island’s schools have taught us throughout the school year. We’ve chosen to highlight some of those achievements here, perhaps as an example to some of the adults in our community.

We need to look no further than last week’s newspaper to see a fine example of Island youth paying tribute to those men and women who lost their lives serving our country. On not such a great day weather-wise, they marched to the sea with flowers in hand as a remembrance of those servicemen and -women. Once there, they tossed the flowers symbolically into the water at Owen Park.

In that same issue, we wrote about the dozens of young Islanders who assembled at Felix Neck as part of the Youth Climate Summit. The event, which tackled some of the important climate change issues facing our world, was organized in part by the student-led Protect Your Environment Club at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

The students of the High School View, published weekly during the school year in The Times, have provided a wonderful window into the environment that shapes MVRHS. Recently, they wrote about English teacher and Project Vine department chair Dani Charbonneau. For those of you who don’t know, Project Vine is an alternative education program at the high school. Charbonneau was nominated, and is a finalist, for the honor of the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. A winner will be announced this summer, according to the story in the High School View. The nomination and the consideration of Charbonneau shows the state is opening up to the need for alternative ways for some students to learn, but also demonstrates that the Island is gifted with some great educators.

Another alternative that deserves some attention is the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, which this year celebrated its 25th year of what school director Pete Steedman called the “bold experiment.” Writer Amelia Smith featured the Charter School in our Community section. Started at a “kitchen table” on the Island, the school provides a place for students to thrive and to “learn by doing.” Jonah Maidoff, the school’s social studies teacher, explained the school’s principles: “We’re doing hands-on learning, our middle school is doing expeditionary learning, doing community engagement, which is part of our mission, being out there and being in the community.”

We do love bringing Island students together each year for the Scripps Spelling Bee. This year we were able to hold the spelling bee for the first time in two years, due to the pandemic. Kalleb Oliveira, a fifth grader at the Charter School, impressed by outlasting the competition by correctly spelling the word “extinguish” to distinguish himself. It was wonderful hearing from Steedman about just how excited the school community was for Kalleb as he returned to the school victorious.

Our schools aren’t just about reading, writing, and arithmetic. There is a strong emphasis on the arts, as demonstrated in the wonderful section we were able to produce earlier this year highlighting student art. We were proud and honored to share their great work with the community with the help of MVRHS and our sponsor Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, as well as our very fine artist and page designer Nicole Jackson.

Students have also showcased their talents on the stage in performances of “Annie” at Oak Bluffs School, “The Wizard of Oz” at West Tisbury School, and “Les Misérables” at the high school, and the Minnesingers never fail to impress during their concerts.

This is just a small sample of the tremendous gift we have here on this Island when it comes to education. We’ll hear more in the coming days, as students are honored for their achievements at the upcoming awards night at MVRHS and are handed their well-earned diplomas.

Perhaps we can all learn from them.