To get a sense of a school all one really needs to do is step through the front door first thing in the morning when the alarm rings to signal the start of the school day. Or in the case of the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, when the director takes a well-worn hockey stick and knocks it against an old bell hanging from the ceiling.

Kids head straight to morning meeting, which takes place on Main street, the school’s nickname for a stretch of floor just past the front desk, filled with overflowing bookshelves and often a few teachers or students playing the ukulele.

It’s an everyday, all-school event, with kindergartners still dressed in their super hero costumes seated next to high school students sipping coffee and chatting about weekend plans. The vibe is casual and inclusive, not official pillars of the school but they could be. Opening its doors on September 16, 1996, the school’s mission is to create lifelong learners in a project-based setting. In June 2001 the school celebrated its first graduating class.

On Sunday, June 3, at 1:30 p.m. the charter school community will cheer on this year’s graduating class. Eleven seniors will take the stage on Sunday, wearing the traditional wreath of flowers in their hair, with many choosing to go barefoot. The younger grades have already interviewed the seniors and will present gifts to the graduates, which in the past have ranged from unicorn pillows to decorated journals or a pet rock.

In a world where so many view school as a bedrock of conformity filled with one-size-fits-all rules and standards, the charter school stands out as a place that practices what it preaches — a campus that feels guided by teachers and administrators but led by the students. And for the past 20 years the school has been guided by director Robert Moore, who will be giving his last commencement speech on Sunday.

Mr. Moore came to the Island in 1998 to become the charter school’s first full-time director and will retire this year. Last Sunday the school celebrated the man everyone at the school calls Bob, and who turns the image of going to the principal’s office as a punishment upside down. At the charter school, students actually want to visit the principal, whether he is sharing doughnuts with fifth graders, talking baseball with his Little Leaguers or passing along hard-earned wisdom in a quiet way.

On Sunday’s stage a torch will be passed not just from student to student, but from director to director. Peter Steedman, principal at the Wareham Middle School, will take the reins in the fall.

This year’s seniors are a diverse group, as is the case every year. Some started at the charter school when they were very young, others arrived in high school, seeking a place that embraced their individuality. On Sunday these individuals will stand out, as they accept gifts, scholarships and well wishes. But they will also stand as a group, one that was formed by the official pillars of the school and will now lead them into the future: cooperation, democracy, freedom, respect, responsibility and trust.

The Gazette welcomes Mr. Steedman to the Island community, and wishes the students and Mr. Moore the best of luck in their future endeavors.