Academy at Charlemont celebrates seven graduates at 40th commencement 

  • The Graduating Class of 2022 performs a cover of Jack Johnson’s “Upside Down” at the Academy at Charlemont during Sunday’s commencement ceremony. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • The Academy at Charlemont’s Graduating Class of 2022 laughs during the speech that graduate Ruby Chase delivered at Sunday's commencement ceremony. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • The Graduating Class of 2022 is celebrated at the Academy at Charlemont during Sunday's commencement ceremony. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Graduate Juliet Corwin is embraced by Co-Head of School Nora Bates Zale as Co-Head of School Neale Gay presents diplomas during the Academy at Charlemont’s 2022 commencement. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Rising freshmen enter the Academy at Charlemont’s event tent to be recognized for completing middle school during the school’s 2022 commencement ceremony. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Co-Head of School Nora Bates Zale speaks at the Academy at Charlemont during Sunday's commencement ceremony. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 6/12/2022 8:23:26 PM

CHARLEMONT — Although the Academy at Charlemont’s graduating class of 2022 was comparatively small, unbridled laughter and shameless tears helped fill an event tent with life during the school’s 40th commencement ceremony on Sunday.

The ceremony’s speakers, which included the Academy’s Co-Heads of School and each of the Class of 2022’s seven graduates, took advantage of the group’s size to get personal. Unlike many graduation ceremonies at other schools, not only was each graduate recognized by having their name called for the awarding of diplomas, but each graduate was showered with fond memories and individualized praise by both peers and Co-Head of School Nora Bates Zale. Other elements of the afternoon included a celebration for the rising freshman class and student awards.

In his welcome address, Co-Head of School Neale Gay celebrated the Academy’s students for “completing the year with so much creativity, success, growth and learning.” Humanities teacher Liz Falco particularly recognized the student body’s positive disposition in the face of adversity in a subsequent address directed toward the rising freshman class.

“When things needed to be silly instead of deadly serious,” she said, “you guys really delivered.”

Before shifting attention to the Class of 2022, Falco framed the eighth graders’ transition to high school as part of an answer to what they often wonder: “when childhood ends.”

“As the years go by,” she said, “it’s a privilege to watch other people grow up alongside you.”

The Class of 2022 welcomed themselves on-stage with a collaborative performance of Jack Johnson’s “Upside Down” that Bates Zale said they “delivered impeccably.” The class’ bond together was evident, half-shy smiles turning ear-to-ear grins over and over throughout the portion of the ceremony that followed the song.

Graduate Ruby Chase kicked off the ceremony’s student-delivered “valedictory remarks” with a speech that channeled two emotional extremes. She began reminiscent, remembering the school’s benevolence before breaking out into tears as she thanked her family. Later, she brought laughs out of her peers and the audience alike as she described how each classmate would respond to a zombie apocalypse.

“Each one of you is a reason I have no words to say how happy I am and there are no words to say how thankful I am for you all,” Chase said toward the conclusion of her address.

Subsequent speakers carried forth the theme of cherishing each other’s closeness. Graduate Juliet Corwin brought out small gifts that aligned with each of her classmates’ personalities, while graduate Ander Bereciartua celebrated the diversity of his class by comparing it to his evolving taste in music.

“(The artists I currently listen to) all make different music, but I think that’s where the beauty’s at,” Bereciartua said.

In an address to the entire community, Trustee Chair Bill Corwin said that “such an important part of an education” is the ability to express oneself, as well as to welcome the expressions of others with an open heart.

“One of the things I really love about the academy is their motto: ‘Find your voice, speak your mind,’” he said.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or


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