Surrounded by cheering friends and tearful family members, the Martha’s Regional High School class of 2023 gathered at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs Sunday afternoon for a poignant and celebratory graduation ceremony.

Led by marshals Joshua Lake and Reese McCracken, the 186 seniors marched one-by-one down the aisles, accompanied by Pomp and Circumstance and a thundering applause from the audience.

Senior Cali Giglio traded her senior class president role for master of ceremony, welcoming students and the community to the momentous event.

Annabelle Brothers (center) receives applauds for earning the Superintendents Outstanding Student Award. — Ray Ewing

“[Today is] about celebrating the diverse community that we have forged here on Martha’s Vineyard,” she said. “We come from different backgrounds with different stories, experiences and perspectives. Yet we have come together to form a tight-knit community to support and uplift each other.”

Senior guest speaker Eduardo Marques translated Ms. Giglio’s words into Portuguese, and followed with his own remarks spoken in Portuguese about proudly becoming a first-generation college student, which was then translated into English by Ms. Giglio.

Other speeches by students, teachers and administrators shared memories of Island camaraderie, childhood dreams and overcoming obstacles.

Salutatorian Jacob Glasgow had reached out to the whole class for his speech, emailing class members to send him their favorite memories. On stage Mr. Glasgow recounted several of these anecdotes about silly pranks and moments of bonding.

A hug before walking across the stage is key. — Ray Ewing

“No one said that their favorite memories were of individual accomplishments,” he concluded. “We make our happiest memories when with those we care about.”

Valedictorian Annabelle Brothers commended her class’s tendency to break rules and push boundaries for the better, but acknowledged the privilege that comes with it.

“When we challenge systems, we sometimes become judgmental of those who can’t afford to,” she said. “But no one can begin to comprehend the entirety of another’s experience... You can easily choose empathy and perseverance as we face challenges in our own lives and in the current climate of politics and society.”

Superintendent of schools Richie Smith honored Ms. Brothers with the Superintendent’s Outstanding Student Award, and shared tales from his own upbringing as the son of a Japanese mother and American father who met in Japan during World War II. He encouraged the students to face their futures with tenacity and disregard for opposition.

Maria Sanchez Roa (center) received the school leadership award. — Ray Ewing

“My parents were persistent,” he said. “I think that persistence is a character trait that all of us and all of you have and can embrace.”

After serenades from the Minnesingers choral group and final words of encouragement from principal Sara Dingledy, the seniors were called to the stage to receive their diplomas. Whistles and applause echoed through the Tabernacle as senior class advisor Brian Roesler recited each graduate’s name.

Diplomas in hand and Good Old Days by Macklemore and Kesha booming from the speakers, the class of 2023 sent their caps into the air, creating a sky of white, purple and gold.