For the class of 2018 at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, the world beyond beckons.

Otto Osmers will continue his studies at Salem State University. — Ray Ewing

“I’m pretty excited to be done with high school and on to life,” said Otto Osmers, one of 146 students to graduate Sunday during graduation ceremonies at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs.

Otto will continue his studies at Salem State University. “[High school] went by wicked quick,” he added as he waited in line for his diploma. “One day you’re walking in as a timid freshman and the next day you’re walking out as a senior.”

The afternoon was future-focused, but the typical optimism of commencement was marked by an awareness of challenges that face the next generation of leaders.

Rya and Jayden Baird accept diploma on behalf of their brother Jake, who died in January. — Ray Ewing

The ceremony began with a moment of silence for Jake Sequoia Baird, a member of the class of 2018 who died in a car accident in January, shortly after completing his high school credits.

Before diplomas were awarded to the rest of the class, Jake’s science teacher Anna Cotton presented his diploma to Jake’s sisters, Rya Baird, who is a sophomore at the University of Maine at Farmington, and Jayden Baird, who is in the seventh grade at the Oak Bluffs School. The crowd stood as they accepted the diploma on their brother’s behalf.

“Jake died at 17, but he will continue to run through each and every one of us,” valedictorian and student body president Rose Engler said during her address to the class.

Retiring music department chairman Jan Wightman. — Ray Ewing

Principal Sara Dingledy observed that this generation has taken the lead in a way others have not.

“Many adults have been inspired by your generation,” she said in her address, noting that members of the class traveled to Boston and Washington D.C. to participate in youth demonstrations. The class also helped to organize the first Island-wide community service day this spring. In the past, Ms. Dingledy said, the focus was on individual accomplishments. But that is changing.

“The pendulum seems to be swinging with the leadership of young people toward interdependence and community betterment,” she said.

Valedictorian Rose Engler. — Ray Ewing

She and superintendent Dr. Matthew D’Andrea took the opportunity to caution students about the influences of social media and expanding communication technology.

“In this noisy world, keep your own counsel,” Ms. Dingledy said.

Graduation was an opportunity for the school to say goodbye to retiring staff members after long careers. Among them were music department chairman Jan Wightman, assistant principal Elliott Bennett, and beloved copy center manager and mentor Wade Johnson.

Class essayist Elizabeth Williamson, who starred in the school’s production of West Side Story, compared life after high school to a dark, empty stage.

“Ahead of us is a blank stage to fill... The bareness of the stage should be an invitation for creativity,” she said. “We shouldn’t be afraid.”

More photos from graduation.