The Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School welcomed its 18th graduating class during a commencement ceremony on Sunday afternoon.

Charter school director Bob Moore delivered a welcoming address to the senior class and community members gathered under a spacious tent set up on the back lawn of the school. His words struck a particularly emotional chord as this was his final commencement ceremony after a 20-year tenure as director of the school.

Bob Moore gave his final welcome address after being the school's director for 20 years. — Ray Ewing

“We gather this afternoon to celebrate the accomplishments of the 18th charter school graduation class,” Mr. Moore said. “Community service, leadership, curiosity and creativity come to mind when I think of you. We are indebted to you for your many contributions to the charter school and the Island community.”

The 11 graduates, each adorned with flower crowns, were presented with gifts from the younger charter school students, meant to reflect their unique personality traits and their impact on the school.

A gaggle of eager kindergarten students presented Troy Vanderhoop Jr. with a glow-in-the-dark football to commemorate his love for the sport. Other gifts included poetry books, plantain chips, postcards, and even a custom-made charter school superhero cape, given to senior Eleanor Dankert as an homage to her love of Marvel Comics.

Autumn Willow Aluia-Richards receives a present from the first and second grade class. — Ray Ewing

Following the gifts to the graduates, the seniors were bestowed with awards from a collection of different Island associations as well as teachers at the charter school. English and portfolio teacher Sarah Smith presented some of the awards, which were tailored to fit the character of each student.

“This student is never afraid to speak up about what she believes,” Ms. Smith said before presenting senior Lily Tilton with the “Stella McCartney Fashion Award.” Senior Keith Chatinover accepted the “Madeleine Albright Do Something Award” while classmate Nathan Lopez-Mata took home the “Quincy Jones Everything To Do With Music Award.”

Jeremy Light, a former charter school teacher, delivered the closing commencement address.

“These kids opened their world to me and made me feel like I was welcome and that I belonged,” Mr. Light said, reflecting on the seniors, the first group of students he taught as 10th graders after moving to the Vineyard from Florida. “I challenge you to continue to make an impact wherever you go. Do not settle. Push the envelope. Make the changes you want for our world. It’s clear you’ve done that for the last four years of your life, but now you must continue to do so.”

The graduates proceeded out of the ceremony to the tune of September by Earth Wind & Fire. Many could be seen mouthing the lyrics as they joined their families for a small reception. The song’s sentiment echoed the mood of the day as the graduates flashed their diplomas: “golden dreams were shiny days.”

More photos from the charter school graduation.