Commencement Day 2008

This morning the Vineyard Gazette salutes the graduating seniors at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School. High school commencement ceremonies begin at one o’clock on Sunday at the historic Tabernacle in the Camp Ground in Oak Bluffs; the charter school graduation is tomorrow afternoon at one thirty at the school campus in West Tisbury.

And with another year of town squabbles over spending on school budgets thankfully behind us, this is a moment to pause and consider the value of public education on the Vineyard.

The Island is lucky. It has high quality public schools with dedicated teachers who work at the top of their professional class. The Vineyard public schools are safe and free from violence. Public education here reaches well beyond formal book learning and does not end with the final bell on school days but extends into life in the community at large, where children are provided with a wide array of choices for recreation, travel and after-school enrichment.

The Island is also extraordinarily generous. Tonight at the traditional class night ceremony, held at the Tabernacle, nearly one million dollars in scholarship money will be handed out to Vineyard students. All of this money comes from Island organizations, and indeed, we know of no other community in the country that offers this kind of assistance to its graduates.

And the students in turn give back. Many are high academic achievers; seventy six per cent of this year’s graduating class will go on to college, higher than the national average of seventy per cent. A number of the top graduates this year have been accepted at Ivy League and other top-tier colleges across the country. Many others are accomplished in the arts, music and vocational trades. All are wonderful ambassadors for the Island.

The Gazette is proud of every one of them and sends out its warmest greetings to the Class of Two Thousand and Eight and their families during this weekend of celebration.