The skies threatened rain, but the event stayed dry except for the occasional shower of tears. It was standing room only at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs Sunday afternoon as hundreds of friends, family, teachers and neighbors gathered to watch the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Class of 2011 graduate. The graduates milled about with friends and family before lining up for their procession, the boys in their purple gowns on the right, the girls in their white gowns on the left.

In his remarks to the graduates, Vineyard schools superintendent Dr. James H. Weiss stressed the importance of community. He thanked the community for donating $800,000 in scholarships and grants which were handed out at Class Night on Friday. Putting his own spin on the African proverb made famous by Hillary Clinton during her days as First Lady, Mr. Weiss said: “It takes an Island to educate a student.”

He gave the superintendent’s Outstanding Scholar Award to co-valedictorians Sarah Johnson and Mary Harrington, although Ms. Harrington did not attend the ceremony. High school principal Stephen Nixon awarded the Javan E. Bayne Memorial Scholarship to Rykerr Maynard. The Vineyarder Award went to two students, Alex Jernegan and Elsie Fantasia, the latter tearing up when she realized the award would be hers. Finally, the Principal’s Award went to student council president Rachel Pires. Ms. Pires’s own speech echoed Mr. Weiss’s theme of community.

Ms. Johnson, as co-valedictorian, and class essayist Kira Shipway also spoke.

“The class is more united today than we have ever been, every single one of us will remember today,” Ms. Johnson said. Before handing out diplomas, Mr. Nixon, in a surprise performance, pulled out his guitar and sang Rod Stewart’s Forever Young. The graduates and crowd leapt to their feet when he finished.

And diplomas were handed out to cheers and applause from the audience and many smiles and fist pumps from the graduates.