Actress Jenny Slate to deliver address to one-person graduating class on tiny Massachusetts island

June 5, 2019

The single graduating student on a tiny Massachusetts island—Cuttyhunk—is nonetheless receiving the star treatment, Ethan Genter of The Cape Cod Times reported on June 3.

Cuttyhunk Elementary School, a one-room schoolhouse on an island with a year-round population that hovers around a dozen, will have actress, comedian, and writer Jenny Slate address that lone student, Gwen Lynch, at this month’s graduation ceremony for the eighth-grader.

Slate—a native of Milton, Massachusetts—is familiar with the island, said Michael Astrue, poet, former commissioner of the Social Security Administration, and a Cuttyhunk summer resident, who has been charged with finding speakers for the last two years.

Finding a speaker for the event hasn’t been easy—even though Lynch could be described as the “Most Likely to Succeed,” the “Class Clown” and the Valedictorian of her one-person graduating class. However, Astrue knows Slate’s father, Ron—and reached out.

“I thought there was a shot that she might be between gigs and chilling out on Martha’s Vineyard,” he said.

Slate’s parents have put their family home in Milton on the market and plan to relocate to Martha’s Vineyard, a stone’s throw away from Cuttyhunk, according to a recent report from

Jenny Slate has been in touch with Gwen, according to Astrue, and she is blown away that the comedian is befriending her and taking the time to speak at her graduation. The pair met last weekend to get to know each other better.

Gwen also has been practicing her own speech for the big day,l The Cape Cod Times reports.

“She’s excited,” said Michelle Carvalho, the school’s only teacher.

Amazingly enough—since the island only has about a dozen residents—Slate has another Cuttyhunk connection. She is dating Ben Shattuck, who runs a writer’s residency on the island, as well as a music residency on nearby, 75-acre Penikese Island. Slate has posted about the residencies on social media and has said that she will be helping with them.

Astrue expects a full house at graduation, which is held at the church across from the school. “It will be a packed room and most of the town will be there,” he said.

When Gwen graduates—leaving the school without any students—Cuttyhunk Elementary plans to convert into a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) academy for off-island visiting schools. The school has been running pilot programs for the academy this spring.

Carvalho is sad to see her last pupil go, but is looking forward to what the new academy plans bring.“It’s an ending but also a beginning, hopefully,” she told The Cape Cod Times.

Photo source: @EthanGenterCCT

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