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Academy at Charlemont gets $1.1M

CHARLEMONT — The Academy at Charlemont has just received the largest single gift in its 33-year history: $1.1 million from the estate of a Lancaster, Pa., man.

John Brace Latham, who died in March, was a lifelong friend of Eric Grinnell, founder of The Academy at Charlemont. Grinnell started the private secondary school in 1981; and when Ginnell died in December 2012, his obituary requested memorial contributions “to that which was most important in his life, The Academy at Charlemont.”

Another bequest — that of a home and land left to the academy by John William Hoth of Charlemont — has been sold by the academy for $168,000. Hoth, a painter and a retired Newsweek editor, died at age 90 in 2010. His first solo art show was held at the academy in 1993.

“Both the Latham and Hoth gifts are very meaningful to the school,” said David Epstein, a 1987 alum who chairs the academy’s board of trustees. “Although the Academy is an independent school, it’s not just a school of privilege. It was formed to serve the local communities. We’re a day school, that’s very public-spirited.”

According to Epstein, both bequests will be put into the school’s endowment fund, with the earned interest used to offset school costs.

The school currently has about 100 students, from grades 7 through 12. About 70 percent of all the academy’s students receive some amount of financial aid from the school, so they can afford to attend.

“We provide more financial aid than any school I’m aware of,” Epstein remarked. “What these two gifts do is help ensure our future.”

Epstein pointed out that, at 33 years old, the school is relatively young. “So, our alumni are still young,” he said. “Most schools build their endowments from alumni over a longer period of time.”

Martha Tirk, director of admissions and advancement, said Hoth had developed a warm friendship with Eric and Dianne Grinnell. “He supported the school’s commitment to provide opportunities for civic engagement and leadership. And he believed deeply in the school’s mission,” she said.

“Mr. Latham and Mr. Hoth recognized the long-term impact of the academy in our local community and beyond, and made bold statements of confidence by choosing to provide for the future of the school and its students,” said interim Head of School Nell Todd.

“We are grateful for their generosity.”

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at: dbroncaccio@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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