Clouds and sun
81°
Clouds and sun
Hi 83° | Lo 62°

‘I will never truly leave’

Academy at Charlemont grads reflect on their academic journey

  • The Academy at Charlemont's class of 2014 leads the way as the school's newest freshmen file in behind them at Saturday's graduation.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville

    The Academy at Charlemont's class of 2014 leads the way as the school's newest freshmen file in behind them at Saturday's graduation.
    Recorder/David Rainville Purchase photo reprints »

  • Gradutaes, alumni, and faculty of the Academy at Charlemont channel Jerry Garcia with their rendition of the Grateful Dead's "Ripple" at the Academy's commencement ceremony Saturday.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville

    Gradutaes, alumni, and faculty of the Academy at Charlemont channel Jerry Garcia with their rendition of the Grateful Dead's "Ripple" at the Academy's commencement ceremony Saturday.
    Recorder/David Rainville Purchase photo reprints »

  • Graduate Hannah Lessels, and her father Bruce, show off their secret handshake at Saturday's Academy at Charlemont commencement ceremony.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville

    Graduate Hannah Lessels, and her father Bruce, show off their secret handshake at Saturday's Academy at Charlemont commencement ceremony.
    Recorder/David Rainville Purchase photo reprints »

  • The Academy at Charlemont's class of 2014 leads the way as the school's newest freshmen file in behind them at Saturday's graduation.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville
  • Gradutaes, alumni, and faculty of the Academy at Charlemont channel Jerry Garcia with their rendition of the Grateful Dead's "Ripple" at the Academy's commencement ceremony Saturday.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville
  • Graduate Hannah Lessels, and her father Bruce, show off their secret handshake at Saturday's Academy at Charlemont commencement ceremony.<br/>Recorder/David Rainville

CHARLEMONT — “I couldn’t think of a better group of individuals to call my fellow alums.”

Nell Todd, an alumna and the interim head of the Academy at Charlemont, reflected on the 17 newest graduates of the school at Saturday’s 33rd annual commencement.

“The academy will always be a place you can call home,” she reminded them.

The small school prides itself on the community it fosters. Families, alumni and faculty are encouraged to take an active role in the school and its students.

“We were all nurtured as a group” reflected graduate Mollie Donohue-Meyer. “At the academy, the students and adults depend on each other, and that’s not something that’s possible in any other place.”

The academy didn’t have the caps and gowns, big high school band or revered commencement speakers of most graduation ceremonies. Instead, the graduates donned suits, dresses, and a tuxedo or two, and penned their own valediction speeches. They were heartfelt, honest and at times, humorous.

“Not only have I matured and grown mentally and emotionally at the academy, I’ve also grown a beard,” joked Ezra Ginzberg. “I’m pretty sure the last part would have happened with or without the academy, though.”

“Senior year was like being digested by a giant snake,” mused Michael Handsaker. “There were a series of squeezes — applying for college, studying for finals, and deciding which college to attend. The journey was warm, and slightly claustrophobic, but every squeeze slowly pushed us along. Now, we sit, being digested, and wish we could do it all again.

“It was truly amazing to have teachers that care so deeply about their students’ lives,” said Hannah Lessels. “Thanks for being my mentors, my friends, and hopefully now that I’ve graduated, my Facebook friends. Here, in such a small school, we really ended up getting to know each other, and that was the best part.”

Close relationships among students and with faculty was a theme in many a graduate’s remarks.

“I never expected school to be such an intimate environment,” said Zitian “Regan” Sun, comparing the academy to schools in his home country of China. “We could walk into a teacher’s classroom or office, and truly talk about anything and everything.”

“I thought when we graduated, we would sever ties with the school and move on to more adult and worldly pursuits,” said Martina Rehmus. “Now, I’m realizing, I will never truly leave this school.”

Awards

Zephyr Rapinchuk Award: Hannah Lessels, Buckland, Paul Sperry-Fromm, Goshen.

Outstanding Boy Athlete in the Senior School: Jared Perkins, South Deerfield and Florence.

Coaches’ Award: Karina Feitner, Cummington.

Academic Honor: Elizabeth Purington, Colrain.

Robert Jaros Citizenship Award: Zitian “Regan” Sun, Shelburne Falls and China.

Class of 2014

Alex Bigelow, Colrain

Noah Dirks, Ashfield

Mollie Donohue-Meyer, Ashfield and Shelburne Falls

Karina Feitner, Cummington

Ezra Ginzberg, Cummington

Mike Handsaker, Charlemont

Henriette Horgen, Norway and Amherst

Noah Jacobson-Carroll, Buckland

Yunfan Jiang, China and Shelburne Falls

Hannah Lessels, Buckland

Nate Manwell, Conway

Jared Perkins, South Deerfield and Florence

Elizabeth Purington, Colrain

Martina Rehmus, Colrain

Andrew Row, Heath

Paul Sperry-Fromm, Goshen

Zitian “Regan” Sun, China and Shelburne Falls.

There are no comments yet. Be the first!
Post a Comment

You must be registered to comment on stories. Click here to register.