Growing up on Chappaquiddick, Jared Livingston is used to going the extra mile. Well, to be exact, the .1 mile on the Chappy Ferry to get to school each day.

As a child heading off to the Edgartown School, Jared remembers being told by his father, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions.”

It is a maxim he took to heart and it has helped fuel his curiosity and success throughout his academic career. On Sunday, Jared will graduate as the valedictorian of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School class of 2016.

His drive and sense of direction were apparent even in grammar school.

“It’s a rarity to have a student this age know where he wants to go and how he’s going to get there,” said the Edgartown School principal, John Stevens.

Jared will attend California Institute of Technology next year to study bioengineering. He received a full-ride scholarship.

Before leaving for California, he will clock one more summer working on the Chappy Ferry. Jared counts his interest in science back to his childhood days fishing with his dad. Being out on the water fostered an interest in marine biology which led to a love of biochemistry and bioengineering.

Though Jared has always done well in school (a quick look at the honors lists proves that), he has had a few passions that didn’t work out. Despite building the highest flying rocket ship in eighth grade, Jared couldn’t cut it as a robotics whiz. Playing the trumpet ended when he got braces and an ambition to be a high school track star was sidetracked after the first team meeting.

Outside of the classroom, Jared can be found on the stage. He performed in the high school musical all four years and had starring roles in the last two. As a junior he was the Baker in Into the Woods, and this year performed as Billy Flynn in Chicago. He is a leader in the a capella group Sound Waves and helped found a separate a capella club.

High school theatre director Brooke Hardman Ditchfield said Jared is full of curiosity, and always willing to explore different takes for his roles. He also unites the cast with his leadership skills, she said.

“He seems to value the ensemble and is really good at rallying the ensemble,” she said. “He’s able to be an important and vital part of the ensemble without overtaking it.”

Ms. Hardman Ditchfield said one of Jared’s greatest strengths is his ability to remain present at all times.

“When you are talking to him, in his scene, he’s all there,” she said. “It’s kind of amazing he’s not more distracted with all that he does. You would never know that he’s simultaneously studying for multiple AP tests or going on college interviews.”

There wasn’t a place on his college applications to list special skills, but if there had been Jared could have listed juggling. It’s not that he is particularly adept at keeping three balls flying through the air, but that he has been able to navigate a full schedule with ease and grace for years.

And he fights to keep his schedule full.

In his senior year, Jared argued against the new limit placed on the number of advanced placement courses students could take. He realized that if he took Global Studies instead of AP European History he’d basically be repeating everything he learned in AP World History. Instead of taking an easy A, Jared worked with the administration so he could take AP European History even though he would only receive honors credit. He addressed the school committee in October, standing up for students who felt academically limited by the courses they were allowed to take.

“I believe that it’s important to progress in education... it’s not about improving your grades so you look better,” he said. “It’s just once you’re at a certain level in high school and you can’t keep going... you stop progressing as much and it can be a detriment to your education.”

Interim principal Margaret (Peg) Regan said Jared’s desire to take the highest level course even without the extra weight added to his GPA was the type of attitude the high school should foster in students.

“There is an exception to every rule and every policy we make and Jared is one of those students who really doesn’t care about the weight or the transcript, but really wants to study at that advanced level,” she told the committee. “So he’s making us rethink the whole policy in terms of who else might be an exception to the rule.”

Learning for learning’s sake is how Jared defines his academic career. When many students were turning to tutors or handbooks for the SATs, Jared trusted that his education would serve him well. He was correct in his assumption, doing so well on his PSAT’s that he was selected as a National Merit Scholar in March.

“I work hard,” he added. “I’m just not working hard to be academically successful, I’m working hard to learn.”

After all, isn’t that the point of high school, he said.