On Sunday afternoon Oak Bluffs’ streets supplied the scenes of the summer season with plenty of pizza eaters, shoppers and bikers touring the town.
But just beyond bustling Circuit avenue, a different celebration of the season was unfolding. There, inside the perimeters of the Camp Ground, 156 seniors were preparing to graduate from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School as the class of 2012.
Families, friends and teachers filled the Tabernacle in the early afternoon, chatting anxiously about the lack of sleep they experienced while waiting for this day, using graduation pamphlets to fan away the heat — or perhaps their nerves.
The sound of Edward Elgar’s graduation song Pomp and Circumstance brought a hush to the crowd. The sight of the first purple gown in procession brought loud cheers that lasted until the very last graduate had taken a seat.
Salutatorian Riley Donegan, class essayist Maya Harcourt, student council president Antone Lima and valedictorian William Stewart gave speeches recognizing the unique experiences and community that the Island has provided.
“We all approached high school differently . . . and we were all motivated in different ways to get us here today,” said Ms. Harcourt in her speech. “Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School is our commonality. From here we are heading in 156 different directions, in 156 different life paths.”
Principal Stephen Nixon presented the Vineyarder Award to Carlos Guzman and Noelle Nelson, and the Principal’s Leadership award to Mr. Lima. Vineyard schools superintendent James Weiss presented the Superintendent’s Outstanding Student Award to William Stewart and delivered a spoken rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine.
“I suppose if I were Dr. Nixon, I would have sung this to you instead of just read it,” Mr. Weiss said.
Mr. Nixon, an amateur musician, did not disappoint, this year writing and performing a song specifically for graduation day, before handing out diplomas and announcing the students as the Class of 2012.
Following the ceremony, parents greeted their children with big smiles and hugs as they mingled with other families — a hundred “congratulations” to give. After a few dozen pictures, the crowd dispersed to separate barbecues, separate cars and separate homes as the 156 students began their own separate paths as graduates.