A brass band rendition of Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix filled the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs Sunday afternoon as friends, faculty and family gathered to celebrate the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 2019. As the band transitioned to the more ceremonial tune of Pomp and Circumstance, the 144 seniors marched two-by-two into the Tabernacle, clad in the traditional white robes and purple sash.

“They were like puppies when they first came into the school and each year they have matured,” said class advisor Kansas Brew.

Praise for top academic honors. — Ray Ewing

Co-class advisor Olsen Houghton agreed. “They were glassy eyed, nervous, and tended to stick together as a group,” he said. “But they really have grown into themselves... and have become more independent.”

“This is their last moment before they are shot out of the cannon, which on the Island is the ferry,” Mr. Houghton said.

Speeches from students and faculty alike explored the themes of growth, independence and the impending transition into what salutatorian Alexis Condon, referred to as the “real world.”

However, the most constant theme was the student body’s resilience and drive to stand up for their convictions.

Alexis drew a large round of applause for her speech, which concluded: “We have shown we will always speak up for what we believe in... our success despite the shortcomings of our school’s environment is a testament to our unwavering persistence. As long as we keep our passion for progress alive, I am confident that we will find success.”

Alexis Condon received a huge round of applause for her speech. — Ray Ewing

And stand up they did, quite literally, during principal Sara Dingledy’s speech. Three students, two of whom are members of student government, stood and turned their backs to the principal in protest of disciplinary policies at the school.

The small demonstration was drowned out by applause from the class, who stood in solidarity with both the principal and the student demonstrators. Many, as one parent observed, just wanted to “preserve the moment.”

In her tribute to the senior class, Ms. Dingledy shared her own “galvanizing” journey through the threshold of adulthood, and what inspired her to pursue a life of giving back to her communities. She also celebrated the unique nature of the class of 2019.

“We refer to you as a class, as a singular group with a singular identity,” she said before describing how the class was so much more, made up of individuals and naming the many groups that comprise the class of 2019.

Principal Sara Dingledy congratulated students. — Ray Ewing

“Today is your day,” Ms. Dingledy concluded.

After the ceremony, the students marched out of the Tabernacle led by junior class marshal’s Alexandra Rego and Jared Regan.

“It’s an honor that they are trusting me to lead them and to be the next generation to step up,” Jared said as the Tabernacle cleared out and the class of 2019 began to celebrate their accomplishment.