Cherilla (Coco) Brown still remembers feeling ecstatic when, six years ago, she won the lottery to attend the charter school. She hated elementary school, to the point of locking herself in the car each morning so her mother wouldn’t be able to drive her. But she found a love of learning at the charter school, an education she likens to homeschooling.

“Today is the happiest day of my life,” Ms. Brown said Sunday afternoon as she donned a blue flower wreath and prepared to graduate from high school.

Minutes later all nine graduates of the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School — Erica Bartlett, Emma Bleiler, Cherilla (Coco) Brown, Aedan Greene, Elias Brown, Gavin Harrer, Anna (Zen) Hughes, Meagan McDonough and Jake Meegan — processed, smiling and holding hands, into a tie-dye-swathed tent.

“Your next destinations are very fortunate to receive your thoughts, talents, and thirst for knowledge,” Bob Moore, director of the charter school, told the graduates. “Thank you for the many contributions you have made to the community.”

Each graduate received a gift from a younger class at the school. In preparation for giving their gift, the kindergarten class had interviewed Ms. Bleiler and discovered, to their great excitement, that she loved unicorns. On Sunday a handful of these kindergarten students cautiously made their way to the stage to present two gifts: a hand-quilted unicorn pillow and a “Wishes for Emma Book” containing a message from each child. One student wrote, “I hope you dream about unicorns.” Another added, “I hope you fall in love.”

Mr. Greene received a hiking safety kit complete with Band-Aids, bug spray and Tecnu poison ivy cleanser. Mr. Harrer was presented with a custom-made Martha’s Vineyard deck for his skateboard. A pet rock from the charter school grounds was given to Mr. Brown so he would “have a piece of the Charter School with him all the time.”

Each graduate also received an individualized award, carefully created by the teachers. Mr. Greene, described by his teachers as “an artist, scientist, a doer and a thinker,” was given The Noam Chomsky Philosophy award. Erica Bartlett, a young woman who is “all about the ocean” earned the Sylvia Earle, Blue Heart of the Planet Award. Ms. Brown, who next year plans to travel and “see all the things you see in National Geographic, but in real life,” won the The Sissy Hankshaw Going Places Award.

The class selected Dan Waters, a local civic leader, to give the commencement address. He encouraged the graduates to treat others with kindness.

“Helping other people is not just worth doing, it’s the only thing worth doing,” he sad. “The good news is that every day we have an almost infinite number of opportunities to change someone else’s life for the better.”

Five years ago, before she’d even heard of the Martha’s Vineyard Charter School, Ms. Bleiler, who lives in Falmouth, pictured herself graduating from Falmouth High School as “just another number.” Since then, she’s clocked over 10,000 miles riding the ferry every day to school. But the sacrifice was well worth it, she said in a speech prepared for the ceremony. “Here I’m not just another number. Even though I’m one of nine.”

In her speech, Anna (Zen) Hughes thanked her classmates for “filling my adolescence with laughter and smiles.” She thanked the school for “teaching me it’s not about finding yourself, it’s about inventing yourself.” She concluded her speech with a wish for her classmates: “Let the winds be fair, and happy flying.”

Mr. Greene said he was “totally psyched” to be graduating Sunday. His former teacher, Deb Dunn, who teaches third and fourth grade, recalled the way Mr. Greene looked when he thought of a good idea. “He gets in this space and you see the wheels turning. You would see him smile at his own thoughts. Then, sure enough, he’d come up with some really cool story or art project.” She added, “The charter school gives {students} the time and the space to have those creative thoughts.”

Mr. Greene is leaving a school of 200 to attend a school of 20,000 — UMass Amherst — in the fall. But the change of scene doesn’t faze him, he said, though he’s “definitely going to miss everybody.”

“I’m feeling extremely excited,” Ms. Hughes reported. “Or, as it says in my speech, ‘scared yet liberated.’ Scared because I’m going to be in a new environment with new people, but excited because I’m going to be part of a new community next year, with a new way of teaching and learning. I’m going to be on my own.”

After receiving their diplomas, the graduates, carrying their gifts, strode out of the tent to join family, friends and community members in celebration.

Deb Dunn smiled while remembering when a few of the graduates were in her class.

“I feel like a proud parent,” she said. “It’s like watching a butterfly hatching from its chrysalis. Like seeing the blood pumping in its wings as it gets ready to fly.”