For the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 2022, the last four years featured a relatively normal freshman year followed by a distinctly abnormal sophomore year at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, when their school year was disrupted and Zoom class entered their lives.

But unlike the previous two graduating classes, the class of 2022 was able to return to a sense of normalcy, especially for their senior year — and for graduation day. On Sunday, June 12 at 1 p.m. the regional high school graduation ceremony returns to the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs after a two-year pandemic hiatus.

Guidance counselor and senior class advisor Erika Mulvey said that the spring semester’s shift from mandatory to optional masking was a concrete step in making student life feel normal again, after close to two years of remote and hybrid learning.

Senior class gets ready for their moment in the spotlight. — Ray Ewing

While acknowledging that the heightened rates of anxiety from the pandemic years did not completely disappear upon returning to the classroom, Ms. Mulvey highlighted the positive impact of students coming back to daily, in-person social interactions and the clear structure of a school setting.

“I think that this class recognizes how lucky they are because they had a chance to have a normal senior spring,” Ms. Mulvey said. “They got to have a prom and other senior traditions. Even though they had a difficult few years it ended really well for them.”

Students agreed with Ms. Mulvey’s assessment as they enjoyed a senior class picnic on Wednesday following a graduation practice at the Tabernacle earlier that morning.

“It was nice to get to see people’s faces for the first time,” said senior class vice president Jessie Dlabaj said at the senior picnic on Wednesday, referring to the end of the school mask mandate.

Class looked to each other for support during pandemic years. — Ray Ewing

During the spring she spent hours helping plan the Under the Lights themed prom celebration at the West Chop Club, she said. It was precisely these types of events that have helped the seniors make up for lost time.

“During online classes, it was difficult to bond as a class because we couldn’t do any traditional group activities together,” Ms. Dlabaj said. “Getting to collaborate this year on planning things like prom really brought us together.” Ms. Dlabaj is headed to Clemson University in the fall with plans to study biology on a pre-med track. She credits her experience during the pandemic with fueling her passion for medicine, in particular her time spent helping with food distribution at Good Shepherd Parish in Vineyard Haven.

“Getting to help my community hands-on made me want to continue to do that in my future,” she said.

Commencement ceremonies on Sunday will feature speeches from principal Sara Dingledy and a handful of students, including senior class president Ben Mulvey.

Graduation returns to the Tabernacle after a two-year hiatus. — Ray Ewing

Ben, who is Erika Mulvey’s son, plans to study computer information systems at Colorado State University in September. He said the difficult circumstances of the pandemic years instilled a sense of resiliency in the senior class.

“When we first returned after two years [of hybrid learning], we were unsure of what to do,” he said. “But I think our class really came together this year, and actually gained a lot from the challenges we faced.”

First-generation student Kathleen Dos Santos said she will be attending cosmetology school in Braintree next year. Ms. Dos Santos, whose parents immigrated from Brazil, said that commencement takes on a special significance when she considers how her mother never had the opportunity to graduate high school herself.

“I am just so happy to be in this position, mainly because my parents worked so hard for me to be here,” she said. “And just to accomplish that, and to have a special high school experience, it means so much.”

Turning a page at graduation. — Ray Ewing

For Sara Dingledy, who was hired as principal of the regional high school just two years before the class of 2022 began their freshman year, it is a heartfelt moment seeing what this class has accomplished.

“They grew up outside of the school, so it was hard to be a part of those important turning points,” she said. “Seeing them come back to the building [this year] felt like a homecoming.”

She added that the class’s overall positive outlook is indicative of their high character.

“We were happy about how much optimism there was going forward,” she said. “They don’t feel shortchanged.”