‘Choose to be challenged’

The MVRHS class of 2022 steps into the world and their futures. 

Graduation was back at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. -Angelina Topalieva


Families and friends cheered with a continuous stream of clapping while the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) class of 2022 marched to their seats to “Pomp and Circumstance” during the 63rd commencement ceremony. This is the first time in a few years that the graduation was held at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs, according to MVRHS principal Sara Dingledy, because of the pandemic.

Several students made speeches addressing their peers and the ceremony attendees. MVRHS senior and master of ceremonies Kaleb Hatt kicked off the speeches by welcoming everyone gathered for the ceremony. Fellow MVRHS senior and guest speaker Marina Pessoni read a Portuguese translation of Hatt’s speech. Hatt said although there was adversity during the past four “uncanny” years of high school, his class produced some stellar individuals with great potential. 

“Now, as we’re graduating and getting ready to leave our sheltered Island lifestyle, it’s time to reach that potential,” Hatt said to his peers. “So, class of 2022, I ask you again to remember: the unexpected. Be unexpected like me, do the unexpected like them, and live the unexpected. I promise you’ll be happier for it.”

Pessoni spoke about her experience on Martha’s Vineyard, and Hatt read an English translation of that. Pessoni talked about how she immigrated to the Island from Brazil, and although there were difficulties, the school’s staff and programs prepared her for the future. She also talked about how the class of 2022 worked through COVID.

“Eu cheguei aqui na ilha com 11 anos, e eu e meus pais fomos muito abençoados de chegarmos aqui com nossa família nos esperando, um privilégio que nem todo imigrante tem quando chega aqui. Mas felizmente temos essa comunidade tão unida da ilha que nos recebem e nos ajudam sempre,” Pessoni said, which Hatt read in translation, “I arrived here on the Island when I was 11 years old from Brazil. My parents and I were very blessed to arrive here with our family waiting for us, a privilege that not every immigrant has when they arrive here. But luckily, we have the Island’s community that always welcomes and helps us.”

Class of 2022 salutatorian Harding Eville focused on how this small yet diverse Island has a cast of people, from a painter in Chilmark to a Serbian boxer working as a dishwasher at Covington in Edgartown, who helped to shape the graduating seniors. 

“Martha’s Vineyard is a small town, and an international town. It is a place of intergenerational and cross-cultural relationships, with parents, coworkers, small children, the old men who watch the world from benches, and artists who paint our story each season,” Eville said. “As I look to my future, and to our future, my hope is that while forging our own paths in the world, we never forget what we have been given, because it is a lot, and it has made us who we are today.” 

Class of 2022 essayist Henry D’Andrea told the story about his efforts to learn how to fly a plane, encouraging his classmates to strive to face difficulties. 

“To my class, I am on stage today to grant you the best advice I have to offer. Wherever you are going, and whatever you are doing, I ask that you choose to be challenged. Take the opportunity to go in over your head,” D’Andrea said. 

Class of 2022 president Benjamin Mulvey also focused on how the Island shaped the graduating students, particularly the experiences of going to high school through the COVID pandemic. Additionally, he said that although there will be goodbyes, he believes the class will have their reunions in the future. 

“We are patient, respectful, flexible, and we are resilient. We can handle whatever life throws at us. We know there will be hard times, but we are strong and will make it through,” Mulvey said. “We did it, we are here today. And, most importantly, we know that nothing will get in the way of our friendships.” 

Class of 2022 valedictorian Ingrid Moore spoke about the unique and special nature of those who grew up on Martha’s Vineyard, which prepares them to be changemakers.

“We have watched our community fight it out all our lives. Remember the roundabout? Squibnocket Bridge? It’s who we are,” she said. “We don’t shy away from trying to make change, even though it sometimes takes a long time and a lot of fighting. This character trait will serve our generation very well.”

Before the diplomas were handed out, several awards were given out during the ceremony. Moore won the Superintendent’s Outstanding Student Award. Custer and Mulvey both won the Principal Leadership Award, while Mekhi Jones and Crystal Zheng won the Vineyarder awards. 

Similar to his son, Martha’s Vineyard Superintendent Matt D’Andrea also encouraged the Class of 2022 to persevere through difficulty to earn the fruits of their labor in his comment to them. 

“Graduates, the next few years for you are crucial. While you are young, and have fewer responsibilities, use your time wisely. Yes, enjoy life with your friends and your family. But be sure to exchange time and comfort in the present to empower yourself in the future,” he said. 

Dingledy also paid tribute to the class, commending the graduates’ resilience, and hoping that the school has prepared them well for their next steps in life. “Research says that birth to 20 years old are the most significant years for the development of character and habit, and perhaps that’s why certain generations are set apart from others. These generations that come of age with uncertainty, but with a foundation of optimism and drive, become great and change the world,” she said.

Joined by its graduating members, the MVRHS choral ensemble sang “We’ll Meet Again” by Dame Vera Lynn before the diplomas were finally handed out to the graduating class. 

The presentation of diplomas was accompanied by cheering and clapping from the crowd. Once the final student, Hatt, received his diploma, white graduation caps flew toward the Tabernacle roof, with the MVRHS graduates shouting with joy and ready to take on their futures.