On Wednesday, as the 2016 graduating class of the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School gathered for an end of the year lunch at Polly Hill Arboretum, a tiny green spider joined the students, crawling across Cyrus Kennedy’s shirt. He turned to his classmate Zale Narkiewicz who carefully removed the arachnid and examined it at eye level. Zale likes spiders. He is also interested in math and dance, and next year he will attend University of Massachusetts Lowell to study math.

Six of the seven charter school graduating students gathered in the shade of a sprawling beech tree for the celebratory lunch. The graduating class includes: Gabrial Canham, Chris Cartier, Hannah Gonsalves, Cyrus Kennedy, Zale Narkiewicz, Cassius Paquet-Huff and Astrid Tilton.

The graduation ceremony is this Sunday, June 5, at the charter school, beginning at 1 p.m. Classes for seniors finished last Friday and the group spoke excitedly about their new adventures and nostalgically about their years at the school.

Board president Nelia Decker joins charter school graduates for lunch at Polly Hill Arborteum. — Mark Lovewell

“I like it when the little kids say hi to me,” Astrid Tilton said.

Chris Cartier agreed: “I give them all high-fives.”

“We’re the cool kids in school, we’re the kings and queens,” Hannah Gonsalves said.

This is the 16th high school graduating class from the school, which received its charter in 1995. Board president Nelia Decker joined the students for lunch.

“When we started the school, we didn’t have high school students,” Ms. Decker said. “We had to grow them.”

With seven students, this year’s senior class is one of the largest for the charter school. Three of the seniors are Charter-Starters, the affectionate nickname for students who began at the charter school in kindergarten.

“We used to call them lifers,” said Steve Nierenberg, the board vice president. Zale, Cyrus and Cassius Paquet-Huff all started and ended their Island education at the charter school. Cyrus spent his freshman year at the regional high school because he wanted to play basketball, but returned to the charter school a few weeks into his sophomore year.

“Very few people get to start kindergarten in the school they graduate from,” Cyrus said. “It really works to build a community, but it takes a lot of self determination to finish as a high schooler here.”

Cyrus will attend Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in the fall. He’s leaning toward a major in journalism or political science. Over the summer he will travel to Denmark and work with his father, a carpenter, to build a house.

Individual drive is essential to a charter graduate, the seniors agreed. Hannah, a sophomore year transfer, also praised the support network provided by the teachers.

“The teachers made the biggest impact, they are always striving to help you,” she said. “I think the charter school cares.”

Hannah plans to spend the summer working at Nancy’s before attending Salem State University to study criminal justice.

“I want to eventually become a lawyer for social and environmental justice,” she said. “I’m leaning more toward justice of people. People need a lot of help too.”

Astrid Tilton also has a strong interest in environmental issues. She plans to attend Hampshire College to study photography and environmental policy. Astrid credited project period, where students choose their own course of study and often work with mentors from around the Island, with helping her discover and grow her interests.

“Without doing darkroom during project period, I wouldn’t be into photography,” she said.

This summer, her photo essay about plastic bag litter on the Island will be on display at the A Gallery in Oak Bluffs.

Chris Cartier came to the charter school his freshman year after being given an ultimatum: charter school or home school.

“I didn’t know about being self directed, I learned over time,” he said. “At first I didn’t know I’d like the charter school and it turned out I loved it.”

This fall Chris heads to Mount Wachusett Community College to study nursing. He then plans to transfer to University of Massachusetts Amherst, and eventually become a doctor. His interest in the medical field comes from family history.

“My nana was a nurse and midwife for 40 years in Waltham, my mom is studying nursing, and male nurses are in high demand,” he said. Over the summer, he will work at Cottle’s lumber yard.

Gabrial Canham plans to attend Maine Maritime Academy to study engineering. What type of engineering is still up in the air.

“Something interesting that pays well,” he said.

As the graduating students finished their lunches, talk turned to the ceremony on Sunday and what everyone would wear, or not wear.

“I’m not going to rent dress shoes just for this,” Cyrus said.

“If you are barefoot, you might convince me to be barefoot,” Hannah told Astrid.

“As long as we have flower crowns,” said Chris.

Graduation will be held on Sunday, June 5, at 1:30 p.m. at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School in West Tisbury.