The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 2020 began the year on a note of togetherness, gathering to watch the sunrise. From that day forward, teachers and administrators said the class has embodied the core features of inclusion and togetherness.

For graduation, a socially distant event slated for July 26 at the Agricultural Society Fairgrounds in West Tisbury, the class proposed changes to the traditional format, ensuring that all speeches will be translated for non-English speakers. They also insisted that the ceremony include speeches from a Portuguese-speaking student as well as another elected student speaker in addition to the usual addresses by the valedictorian, salutatorian, student body president and class essayist.

Principal Sara Dingledy began her position at the high school the same year the class entered as freshmen. “I think they have really embodied what it means to buy into the community,” she said. “They take the lead in building the type of community that they think they should build and it’s inspiring to see.”

Director of wellness and senior class co-advisor, Amy Lilavois, emphasized class efforts to improve the world, with substantial contributions to Standing With Everyone Against Rape (SWEAR), a sexual assault and gender-based-violence awareness program.

The class also participated in nationwide climate walk-outs, engaged with the second annual Felix Neck Youth Climate Summit and attended social justice protests in Boston and Washington.

In the classroom, the class paired levity with rigorous academic achievement. History teacher and student council advisor Olsen Houghton fondly recalled a rap music video about the importance of history written and directed entirely by two students in the class. He also cited the class’s contagious love of learning, remembering a student-band whose name, The Era of Good Feeling, was inspired by a lesson he taught.

Math teacher Melissa Braillard lauded the commitment of her AP statistics students who elected to take the test virtually rather than canceling, as well as the class’s commitment to each other.

“They celebrate each other’s accomplishments—whether it’s in class, on the sports field, or in the theatre—in a way that I’ve never seen before with a group of students.”

Faculty and administrators noted that the class responded with tremendous grace and resilience to the challenges created by the coronavirus.

Most recently, the class set up an Instagram page (@covidfreemv) where students shared their quarantine activities and organized weekly virtual coffee houses with the help of the theatre department.

“They’ve been through a lot in their four years, particularly this year,” said Ms. Lilavois. “What I see with them as young people is this ability to hold each other up.”

When asked what he will miss most about the class, school adjustment counselor and class co-advisor, Matt Malowski, answered without hesitation: their optimism.

“They have given me a lot of hope,” he said. “This class rejuvenated me in a lot of ways. They have definitely reminded me why I got into education in the first place.”