From the fragile handle-with-care days of preschool and kindergarten, to the quiet where-have-you-gone stage of middle school, to the hello-again, you shave-and-drive-and-have-opinions-of-your-own days of high school, the raising and teaching of our children is entrusted to so many that the journey can seem like a series of handoffs.

What begins as a small circular bond between parents and child quickly becomes a communal enterprise of fellow parents, teachers, coaches and the community at large. Swaddling and diapers become Little League and piano. Science fairs mix with recitals and first jobs, dates lead to going steady, and final exams become SATs and college visits. And from each step to the next a new teacher arrives, many stationed at the front of the class, but perhaps an equal number lending a hand in less obvious ways. And then one day a cap and gown enters the house, as symbolic a presence as a packed suitcase lingering by the door.

Where did the time go is perhaps the most common question asked during this period. The answer will be up on stage on Sunday. The time went to doing the most important thing there is to do — preparing the next generation to embark on their own journey. Some will head off to college, others for jobs, and still others to find their way on less trampled paths. It is a period when the handoff from one stage to the next is much more mysterious, particularly in a close community such as the Vineyard, where nearly everyone knows not just the child, but the entire lineage going back four generations. The mystery is part of the excitement and the reason no one ever forgets this moment for the rest of their lives.

The Gazette would like to congratulate the class of 2014, along with the parents and the many, many teachers who led them. Good luck to you all.