Families and friends cheered with a steady stream of applause as the Class of 2022 from Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) marched to their seats for “Pomp and Circumstance” at the 63rd annual graduation ceremony. ‘opening. This is the first time in a few years that graduation has been held at the Oak Bluffs Tabernacle, according to MVRHS Director Sara Dingledy, due to the pandemic.
Several students gave speeches addressing their peers and ceremony attendees.
MVRHS Senior and Master of Ceremonies Kaleb Hatt opened the speeches by welcoming everyone gathered for the ceremony. Fellor MVRHS keynote and guest speaker Marina Pessoni read a Portuguese translation of Hatt’s speech. Hatt said that while there was adversity in the last four “strange” years of high school, his class produced stellar individuals with great potential.
“Now that we’re graduating and preparing to leave our sheltered island lifestyle, it’s time to reach that potential,” Hatt told his peers. “So Class of 2022, I ask you again to remember the unexpected. Be unexpected like me, do the unexpected like them, and experience the unexpected. I promise you’ll be happier for it.
Pessoni spoke about his experience on Martha’s Vineyard, of which Hatt read an English translation. Pessoni explained how she immigrated to the island from Brazil and although there were challenges, the school’s staff and programs prepared her for the future. She also explained how the class of 2022 has been doing thanks to COVID.
“Eu cheguei aqui na ilha com 11 anos, e eu e meus pais fomos muito abençoados de chegarmos aqui com nossa família nos esperando, um privilégio que nem todo imigrante tem quando chega aqui. Mas felizmente temos essa comunidade tão unida da ilha que nos recebem e nos ajudam sempre,” said Pessoni, whose translation Hatt read as follows: “I arrived here on the island when I was 11 years old from Brazil. My parents and I were very lucky to arrive here with our family waiting for us, a privilege that not all immigrants have when they arrive here. But luckily we have the community of the island that welcomes us and always helps us.
Class of 2022 salutatorian Harding Eville focused on how this small but diverse island has a cast of people, from a painter in Chilmark to a Serbian boxer working as a dishwasher in Covington in Edgartown, who helped shape senior graduates.
“Martha’s Vineyard is a small town and an international town. It is a place of intergenerational and intercultural relations, with parents, colleagues, young children, old people who watch the world from benches and artists who paint our history every season,” said Eville. “Looking towards my future and our future, I hope that while forging our own paths in the world, we will never forget what we have been given, because it is a lot and it has made us what we are today.”
Class of 2022 essayist Henry D’Andrea told the story of his efforts to learn to fly an airplane, encouraging his classmates to strive to cope with hardship.
“To my class, I’m on stage today to give you the best advice I have to offer. Wherever you go and whatever you do, I ask you to choose to be challenged. Take the opportunity to go over your head,” D’Andrea said.
Class of 2022 President Benjamin Mulvey also focused on how the island has shaped graduating students, particularly the experiences of going to high school during the COVID pandemic. Additionally, he said that while there will be farewells, he believes the class will have a reunion in the future.
“We are patient, respectful, flexible and resilient. We can handle whatever life throws at us. We know there will be tough times, but we are strong and we will get through this,” Mulvey said. “We did it, we are here today. And, most importantly, we know that nothing can get in the way of our friendships.
Class of 2022 Major Ingrid Moore spoke about the unique and special nature of those who grew up in Martha’s Vineyard, which prepares them to be agents of change.
“We have seen our community struggle all our lives. Do you remember the roundabout? Squibnocket Bridge? It’s who we are,” she said. “We don’t shy away from trying to make changes, even if it sometimes takes a long time and a lot of fighting. This character trait will serve our generation very well.
Prior to the graduation, several awards were also presented at the ceremony. Moore won the Superintendent’s Outstanding Student Award. Both Custer and Mulvey won the Senior Leadership Award while Mekhi Jones and Crystal Zheng won the Vineyarder Awards.
Similar to his son, Martha’s Vineyard Superintendent Matt D’Andrea also encouraged the Class of 2022 to persevere despite the hardships to earn the fruits of their labor in his commentary.
“Graduates, the next few years are crucial for you. While you’re young and have fewer responsibilities, use your time wisely. Yes, enjoy life with your friends and family. But be sure to trade time and comfort in the present to empower yourself in the future,” he said.
Dingledy also paid tribute to the class, hailing the resilience of the graduates and hoping the school prepared them well for their next steps in life.
“Research indicates that birth to age 20 are the most important years for the development of character and habits, and this may be why some generations stand out from others. Those generations that mature with uncertainty , but with a foundation of optimism and drive, grow big and change the world,” she said.
Joined by its graduating members, the MVRHS choral ensemble performed Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again” before the diplomas were finally presented to the class.
The graduation was accompanied by cheers and applause from the crowd. Once the last student, Hatt, graduated, white caps flew to the roof of the Tabernacle, MVRHS graduates shouting with joy and ready to take on their future.