Lyla Solway finds solace on the water.

For many students, activities, sports and clubs are a big part of their high school career. For Ms. Solway, the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Class of 2024 valedictorian, it was sailing.

As co-captain of the sailing team this year, she is proud of its achievements — setting a school record for the New England Girls Fleet Racing Championship being a highlight.

“It’s a physical sport to some extent, but it’s a very mental game,” Ms. Solway said in an interview a few days before graduation. “It’s really long days. You have to let things go. That kind of

lesson of learning to move on and learning from your mistakes and not getting bogged down in it has helped me a lot in school and in life.”

At Sunday’s graduation ceremony at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs, Ms. Solway will walk beside her classmates and also give the valedictory speech.

“I’m mostly talking about personal growth, because that was one of the big themes of my four years at the high school,” she said. “Also, making mistakes and what we can learn from them as well as what embarrassment can teach us. I also want to highlight some of the accomplishments of other people around me that maybe wouldn’t otherwise be recognized.”

The class of 2024 began their high school journey in the fall of 2020 during the height of the Covid pandemic, and the abnormal start still resonates four years later.

“It felt like I only had three years of high school,” Ms. Solway said. “When I was a sophomore, I felt more like a freshman. Once we finally got off Zoom, everybody realized how behind we were in learning, so that made it even harder. It’s not their fault, obviously, but teachers were trying to catch up. It’s a bit better now, but I felt like my sophomore and even in my junior year, it was just a catch-up game.”

Whether in the classroom or out on the water, Ms. Solway’s passion has been a constant throughout her life, according to friend and fellow graduate Maia Donnelly.

“When [Lyla] wants to do something, she’s going to put her mind to it and she’s going to succeed,” Ms. Donnelly said. “I would say her dedication and her loyalty are her best qualities.”

These qualities were evident to her sailing team members. Co-captain Walker Brescia said he experienced her leadership qualities in a tangible way.

“For what we’ve achieved for sailing this year, it has been a big deal,” he said. “We fundraise all the events we’ve gone to and a lot of the team managing has been totally her. The fact that she was able to do all that, still get out on the weekends to hang out with us at bonfires and then lands valedictorian is pretty impressive.”

Ms. Solway credits key mentors for guiding her along the way, including sailing coach Andrew Burr, math teacher Carole Flanders, former biology teacher Carrie Fyler, physical education teacher Gary Simmons and horseback riding instructor Tracey Olsen.

In the fall she will attend North Carolina State University where she will continue sailing.

As Ms. Solway prepares for life after high school, she said she knows she will miss the Island’s tight-knit community and the lessons it taught her.

“Even if you’re just acquainted with someone, if you ever need something or if they are maybe connected to someone that you might need to be connected with, I feel like you can always reach out to people here and they are very willing to help you,” she said.

She will also miss the Vineyard waters.

“I think the ocean is very healing, so I’ll miss that,” she said. “But it will always be here.”