Faculty, friends and relatives gathered at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School Sunday to celebrate the seven high school graduates of the class of 2024.

The graduating class wore blue and white flower crowns and entered the proceedings to the sounds Jack Johnson’s Upside Down.

Peter Steedman, director of the school, opened the ceremony by recognizing both the students and the faculty and staff who helped get them to the finish line, including longtime teacher Jonah Maidoff who is retiring.

Students wore flower crowns in their hair. — Ray Ewing

The graduating class of 2024 includes Sebastian Bennett-Rock, Ella Blodgett, Lucia Capece, Matthew Graham, Vivian Peatie, Grace Robinson and Kaitlyn Vanderhoop.

As part of school tradition, teachers and students from the younger grades presented the graduates with gifts.

Matthew Graham received a hand-sewn bag made by theatre teacher Heather Capece to carry paint brushes, while Sebastian Bennett-Rock was given a battle flag emblazoned with Pokemon and the lion from the New York Public Library by Mr. Maidoff.

Jonah Maidoff, who is retiring this year, was celebrated. — Ray Ewing

The drama club, led by Ms. Capece, also gave students gifts as she reflected on watching the students grow over the years through participating in school plays. Ms. Capece’s daughter, Lucia Capece, is a member of the graduating class.

“My daughter grew up in this building because I work here,” Ms. Capece told the Gazette. “When you’re a teacher and a staff member, you get to see so much of their life. I get to see [Lucia] be a mentor to younger students in the theatre department...I’m feeling they’re ready for their next step. It’s wonderful.”

Mr. Steedman acknowledged the difficulty the students faced when starting high school during the Covid-19 epidemic.

Younger classes grave graduates gifts that reflected their personalities. — Ray Ewing

“This class started their freshman year in the fall of 2020 on Zoom,” Mr. Steedman said. “These students did an admirable job working with us as we tried to find classroom space for them at Slough Farm, the Ag Hall and Featherstone because we could not accommodate them at our school.”

Mr. Steedman said the senior class was instrumental in helping to rebuild the school’s community.

“We had numerous meetings with staff and administration, not fully realizing that the answer to our struggles were the students who were sitting in the classrooms. This class chose to lead and our school followed their example.”

Vivian Petrie reacts after receiving Way of the Water award. — Ray Ewing

Mathea Morais, the teacher leader for the graduating class, presented each student with an award inspired by their interests and personality. Ella Blodgett was awarded the Dale Chihuly Glassblowing Award due to Mr. Blodgett’s passion for the art form. Vivian Peatie was given the Way of the Water award in honor of Ms. Peatie’s fluidity and strength.

Sebastian Bennett-Rock, Lucia Capece, Kaitlyn Vanderhoop and Grace Robinson all gave speeches, with each student highlighting an aspect of their time at the charter school that was important to their success.

“Many people, including my friends, looked at me funny or asked me why when I said I loved school,” Ms. Robinson said. “As much as I tried to explain the specialty that lies in the charter school, it is something that can only be understood by experience.”
The class presented the school with a gift of new signs for the parking lot, painted in blue and white, the colors of the school.

After receiving their diplomas and another standing ovation at the end of the ceremony, the students walked out to the tune of Jimi Hendrix’s version of Like a Rolling Stone.

“I celebrate being part of their educational experience,” Scott Goldin, the assistant director of the school, said after the event. “They’re great people and they’re going to do great things.”