Lined up outside the Tabernacle in purple and white robes, the graduates of Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School fidgeted with their tassels. But as the strains of Pomp and Circumstance floated out of the building and the audience rose to their feet, the 154 graduates in the class of 2016 marched resolutely down the aisle toward their futures.

Seniors in chorus perform Choose Something Like a Star. — Timothy Johnson

The students speakers gave thanks to teachers, counselors, and friends for their successes and shared poems and songs with their classmates and an audience of family, friends, faculty and well-wishers.

Master of ceremonies Oshantay Waite encouraged her classmates to turn their attention fully to the future.

“Don’t worry about should haves or would haves. This is your fresh start, this is your clean slate,” she said.

Master of Ceremonies Oshantay Waite. — Timothy Johnson

Salutatorian Olivia Jacobs credited teachers, counselors and friends for helping her to overcome the struggles she faced in high school to reach her goal of speaking at graduation.

She remembered signing up for classes just because they were advanced placement and feeling pressure to join extracurricular activities.

“I was a puppet of what I thought I should do,” she said of her struggle. “My spirit crumbled in these years, the pressure to do it all was a catalyst for the darkness that ensued...I still have tough days and nights, I’m still on my journey to wholeness.

Diplomas handed out to 154 seniors on Sunday. — Timothy Johnson

“Here I am three years and a heck of a struggle later giving the speech I wanted, feeling proud because of something more significant than school rank.”

Superintendent Matthew D’Andrea also encouraged students to expand their definition of success beyond academic markers.

“More than anything in life you will be judged on character, your ability to be trustworthy and honest, to give respect and to take responsibility,” he said. “Making a difference in this world has little to do with income, IQ, grades, athleticism, SAT scores or what school you attend. Making a difference is about connections, kindness, caring and understanding, reaching out, embracing differences and respecting others.”

The combined chorus sang Ocean and Stars by Amy Bernon and the senior song, Choose Something Like A Star.

Tabernacle a sea of purple and white. — Timothy Johnson

Principal Margaret (Peg) Regan presented Ethan Donovan and Kate Hansen with Vineyarder Awards and Kaela Vecchia-Zeitz with the Principal’s Award.

Valedictorian Jared Livingston, who also received the Superintendent’s Outstanding Student award Sunday, kept his speech short, telling his peers how lucky they were to have attended high school on the Vineyard.

“For many people high school is a rough place, but we made it through together,” he said.

He closed his speech by singing Roll Away by Back Door Slam.

I’ve gotta roll, roll away
Maybe I’ll return to this island some day
Roll, roll away
Maybe I’ll return to this island some day

Soon after the graduates threw their hats into the air and then spilled out onto the surrounding green to celebrate with friends and family.

More photos from graduation.