Friday at 6:30 p.m., the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 2014 will convene with families and members of the community for Class Night at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. In addition to celebrating all that these seniors have already accomplished, the evening is an opportunity for the students to show their appreciation for the community who has supported them.
This year, more than $1 million will be awarded in student scholarships, marking a first in school history.
“I want to acknowledge the community for what they do for our kids,” said school guidance director Michael McCarthy. “It’s amazing how much they support our kids to go get an education and continue their education and how they value that. They value that by always passing the budget for the school, but they also value it by proving it with their own hard work and support for post secondary education. We’re really fortunate.”
Graduation ceremonies for the class of 2014 will be held on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in the Tabernacle.
Mr. McCarthy has worked closely with this senior class, watching them grow into their role as leaders in the school. While they have matured and progressed as a class over their four years, he says that this class showed tremendous promise from the moment they came into the school four years ago.
“A lot of these kids, very early on, were thinking about what impact they could make and how they could make the school better, for themselves and the people around them. You could recognize it very early, but it matured as it went along and they got more involved and more engaged,” he said.
Reflecting on the class this week, Mr. McCarthy recalled a recent school council meeting where the council discussed school improvement. Although they were not required to be there, a number of members of the senior class came and presented their own ideas on ways to improve the school. “There’s no investment for them anymore because they are gone, but they were still willing to get involved for the betterment of the school and for their underclassmen,” Mr. McCarthy said. “That’s unusual, to get seniors who still come out when there’s nothing in it for them.”
Mark McCarthy, the athletic director at the high school, has similar memories of this class stepping into leadership roles within the school. “This is a class with tremendous growth,” he said. “From when they came in as freshmen to them leaving as seniors, I’ve seen them grow into leadership roles on and off the field.”
He started at the high school four years ago, so this is the first class that the athletic director has been able to watch grow from freshmen to seniors. In that time, he has watched the school prosper athletically, taking home two state tennis championships, and qualifying for state tournaments in nearly every sport.
In the four years that the class of 2014 has been wearing the Vineyarders uniform, the football team has never failed to take home the Island Cup in its annual game against Nantucket.
Nathaniel Horwitz, a graduating senior and member of the football team, remembers the 2012 comeback victory in the Island Cup as a highlight of his time at the high school. “I just remember in those last two minutes everyone thought we were going to lose,” he said. “Then, I remember the faces of hundreds of my classmates and community members bellowing as we pulled ahead for the win.”
Next year, Mr. Horwitz will study synthetic biology and economics at Harvard University. While he will always cherish the memory of that monumental victory over Nantucket, he said the thing he will miss most from his high school years is the community and teachers who supported him along the way.
“It feels like as a high school student on this Island, everyone you run into at the store or in line at the post office or wherever you go has your back,” Mr. Horwitz said. “Everyone is behind you and supporting you and is happy when you succeed and sad when you fail. There is so much community investment in our success.”
Perhaps it is as a result of this support system that so many members of the senior class have shined in so many disciplines, in and out of the classroom. Chris Baer, a photography teacher and head of the arts department, noted the diversity of interests in this graduating class.
“One thing I notice is that the seniors this year are very much individuals; there seems to be a real diversity this year in what the students are doing and pursuing,” Mr. Baer said. “There’s no herd mentality in this class. It’s a lot of very interesting, ambitious and unique people pursuing some unusual passions.”
With their high school days all but behind them, the members of the graduating class are preparing for the next chapter in their lives. Many of the students will leave the Island this fall to study at colleges and universities around the country. This year the high school is sending six students to Ivy League universities, a testament to the academic prowess that this class has exemplified. Other students will take some time away from academia, pursuing extra curricular interests and community outreach.
Wherever they go, the Island community will always be cheering for them.