Tears, gratitude and camaraderie were all in abundance during the high school graduation ceremony at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School on Sunday.

The 15 students who make up the class of 2022 kicked off the ceremony by walking two-by-two into a white tent on a grassy field just beyond the basketball court on the school’s campus. The largest graduating class in the school’s 25-year history walked to the tune of Tongue Tied by GroupLove and was welcomed by a standing ovation from the crowd. The students wore halos of flowers atop their heads, along with ties, blazers and flowing dresses.

Toni Kaufman congratulates Ella Oskan. — Ray Ewing

Charter school director Pete Steedman opened the ceremony by welcoming the audience, which included people who had traveled from as far as California. Mr. Steedman then reflected on how he started at the charter school the same year the graduates entered high school.

“What struck me about this group from the start was that they truly loved the school and they were eager to be ambassadors for our school in the community,” Mr. Steedman said.

While speaking about each student’s achievements, Mr. Steedman informed the crowd that the ceremony had another cause for celebration as Sunday was also senior Aylish Clark’s birthday. An attempt by Mr. Steedman to lead the crowd in singing happy birthday was quickly shot down by the students, who instead opted to sing Circle of the Sun, a longtime school tradition, to their classmate.

“Aylish was born in a circle of the sun, circle of the sun on her birthing day,” the group sang.

Emily Pinheiro de Souza receives a gift from the younger students. — Ray Ewing

Returning to a beloved tradition that had not taken place since the pandemic began, the younger grades presented gifts to the graduates ­— cards with advice for the future, the children’s book All the Places You’ll Go, bubbles and pixie dust.

And the seniors had gifts of their own for the school. The senior class became notorious for complaining about the school’s fluorescent lights because they were too bright and sometimes flickered, Ella Oskan said. The students gave the school six lamps to alleviate the problem.

“Some have been 3D printed, some have been customized and decorated. All seniors will choose where they go, so lamps are coming to a classroom near you,” Brendan Donnelly said.

Each senior received a scholarship from Options in Education. A host of other Island organizations — including the Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation, the Cottagers and the Oak Bluffs fire department — also awarded scholarships to individual students.

Jaylin Johnson receives a round of applause. — Ray Ewing

Jaylin Johnson, an avid dancer who will go on to cosmetology school, was the recipient of multiple scholarships. Jaylin won awards from the Holy Ghost Association, the Community Foundation and the African American Heritage Trail.

Jaylin was also one of three students to give a speech on behalf of the class. Jaylin, who started at the charter school in sixth grade, thanked the school for allowing her to be herself and giving her the freedom to explore her passions.

“I’ve made the best friends here and have memories here that I will never forget,” Jaylin said, fighting off tears. “I can’t even explain in words how grateful I am to be able to enjoy school like I did here. Thank you charter for being my home.”

English teacher Sarah Smith presented each student with a personalized book and award which represented their interests. Max Vaughn, who plans to study history at Dean College, received the David McCullough Next Island Historian Award and a copy of Dead Wake: the Last Crossing of the Lusitania. Emily de Souza, who has worked extensively with survivors of domestic violence, received the Goodwill Ambassador Award as well as a copy of the Art of Helping Others.

Heather Capece (right) presents theatre award to seniors. — Ray Ewing

“We’ve been through a lot together,” Ms. Smith said to the class. “The veils have been lifted between all of us and we know each other pretty well.”

Fifth and sixth grade teacher Mathea Morais gave the commencement address. Ms. Morais went over lessons each student taught the community and gave a note of advice to the group.

“Here’s my advice: don’t try to do this alone. Wherever you go, however long you stay, find your people,” Ms. Morais said. “And if ever, whenever, you get a little tired, or you’re feeling a little undernourished, or like you could use some unasked for advice, come find us. We’ll be right here, ready to fill you up and love you up and send you back out.”