At Sunday’s regional high school graduation, families spread out across the varsity baseball field, sitting in the stands and in the outfield, in beach gear and lawn chairs. They brought umbrellas to shield the sun, towels, coolers and signs with their graduate’s name on it.

For the second year in a row the ceremony had to be moved from its traditional home at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs, but that did not dim the excitement. When the graduating class processed onto the infield led by class marshals Anabelle Biggs and Finn Lewis, families clapped, cheered and rang cowbells, nearly drowning out Pomp and Circumstance.

Students processed onto a stage set up on the varsity baseball infield. — Jeanna Shepard

Senior Maria Clara (MC) Lacerda served as the master of ceremony, facilitating the event in English and Portuguese. While her speech was the only one delivered bilingually, all speeches are available with Portuguese translations on the school website.

“Although, this year is not at all what we imagined and most of us have spent half of it logging into Zooms while still in bed and waking up five minutes before class, we still managed to be here today,” she said. “So let’s give ourselves a round of applause, because, hey . . .  I think we deserve it.”

The entire senior class heeded her advice and applauded in unison.

The sun was bright for a unique class. — Jeanna Shepard

While many speakers reflected on the difficulty the graduating class endured because of the pandemic, many also focused on brighter days ahead. Class salutatorian Peter Gillis urged his classmates to use the past 15 months as evidence of their resilience.

“Soon it will be up to us to make the difficult life decisions for ourselves and potentially for others,” he said. “Realize that 2020 has given you this strength and confidence to take the risks and achieve all your goals.”

Class essayist Zachary Smith highlighted the philanthropic efforts of the class. He shared how the National Honor Society fundraiser for the Island Food Pantry doubled its goal.

Hugs for the graduates. — Jeanna Shepard

“This is the kind of thing our class is capable of,” he said. “Working together to make our community a better place and leaving our community better than when we first arrived. Ours is a very special group of people, and I am grateful to be a part of it.”

Valedictorian Eric Reubens incorporated a wide range of perspectives in his speech, with quotes from figures ranging from Franz Kafka to Lil Wayne.

“Essentially, I believe that our individual happiness and fulfillment is reached from within, through our desire to fulfill our dreams and build our legacies,” he said. “So as you go out into the world, move into the direction that your gravity is pulling you, anything in the right direction, and that is how I believe we will all wind up in our own right places.”

Maria Clara (MC) Lacerda, master of ceremonies spoke about the year that was and the future to come. — Jeanna Shepard

The administration gave out a few final student awards during the event. Superintendent Dr. Matthew D’Andrea gave the Superintendent’s Outstanding Student Award to Eric Reubens. Principal Sara Dingledy gave the Vineyarder Award to Nate Sawyer and Margaret Sykes, and the Principal’s Leadership Award to Vitor Lage and Chloe Combra.

During the presentation of diplomas, the seniors walked across a stage set up at home base. And after all the students received their diplomas, the class tossed their caps in the air in unison as the class song, Memories by David Guetta featuring Kid Cudi, played over the loudspeakers.

More pictures.