Valedictorian was not on Ingrid Moore’s mind throughout her four years at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.
Instead she focused on getting good grades so she could have options when it came time to apply to college. When class ranks were announced last month, she knew she would be up there, but was surprised to see her name in the top spot.
“It was a plus and a surprise that I got valedictorian, but it was also exciting,” she said in an interview this week.
In the fall Ms. Moore will attend Yale University where she plans to build on her main passions: environmental conservation, wildlife protection and theatre. She said she looks forward to her next step and is both nervous and excited about making the move to a city. But she said she will also miss the Island community and its natural beauty.
“It’s going to be weird not being able to just get out of school and go on a walk at West Chop Woods or something,” she said. “But I’m definitely excited. I’m excited to get a change of scenery and experience something different.”
Ms. Moore’s interest in the environment comes from her father Adam, who is the executive director of the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation. Her mother Melissa is a registered nurse. Ms. Moore was born in Middletown, Conn., but the family moved to the Island when she was four. She was raised here along with her two older sisters, Madeleine and Isabel, and younger brother Huck.
She said Yale had long been her dream school, but unsure about her chances in the highly competitive world of college admissions, she almost didn’t apply. The night before applications were due, she realized she would regret not giving herself the chance and decided to apply. When she learned she was accepted, she was elated but there was no time to celebrate — it was opening night for the high school production of Les Miserables and she was due on stage as Monsieur Thernardier.
That weekend of performances was followed by preparing for shows with the Minnesingers, studying for five AP tests and participating in climate action week as part of the high school’s Protect Your Environment club.
It’s all starting to sink in now.
“It’s finally starting to hit me. It’s slow, but since I’ve had time to relax a little, it’s nice just to finally think about that and process it,” she said. In her graduation speech Sunday, Ms. Moore will issue a call to action about what her class can do to make the world a better place, particularly with respect to climate change. Growing up on the Island, surrounded by nature, has fueled her passion about protecting the environment. In college she plans to study ecology and environmental biology. She has already identified Namibia, Australia and Kenya as wildlife research destinations for college and beyond.
“Living on Martha’s Vineyard, it’s so beautiful, going on walks all the time I fell in love with being outdoors and wanting to protect that and caring about animals,” she said. In December she became an Eagle Scout, the first female on the Island to achieve the prestigious rank in scouting. Her final project was another chance to explore her love of animals, she said. She affixed pages from children’s books to poster boards at Nat’s Farm and Misty Meadows to attract kids so that a similar interest might spark in them.
Her acting career began with a fourth grade production of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She also plays the trombone and sings, but since that first performance, she has been drawn to acting. She likes being able to separate herself from her character.
“I love being on stage and just being able to perform and kind of go over the top and be excessive,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like it’s me. I’m someone else, so it’s not me up there possibly making a fool of myself.”
Les Miserables will not be Ms. Moore’s last performance on the Island, either. This summer she will return to the play which started it all when she performs in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Tisbury Amphitheatre.
“Kind of a nice, full circle moment,” she said.
Beyond the stage, she will spend her summer working at Biodiversity Works doing wildlife monitoring. She said she looks forward to one last summer of relaxing and spending time on her hobbies before heading off to school in August.
“Enjoying the last summer that I don’t really have to do work. A lot of reading, which I’m really excited about,” she said.