Community at The Academy: Experience, Service, and Activism
The Academy is a public-spirited private school with a deep commitment to community service. We try as a school to be a good corporate citizen, to help out where we can, and to connect with other institutions and neighbors in ways that make Charlemont and all our hometowns better places to live. Students and teachers serve a community meal to over 1,000 West County residents each year; they clean up riverbanks and parks; they’ve built shelters in New Orleans; they’ve provided musical instruments to inner city students. Impressively, the whole school community engaged in helping neighbors in local towns with their clean up efforts immediately after Hurricane Irene.
The Academy civic experience produces activist citizens, young men and women who become agents of change within their communities, first in college, then in their workplaces and neighborhoods. Because they have so long been expected to ask themselves “what is my responsibility in this situation?” and “how can I help make this better?” they take those questions with them. They also take with them the skills and confidence needed to make a difference.
For almost 20 years, teams of students from The Academy have been going to Trinity Church at 17 Severance Street in Shelburne Falls on Friday nights to help prepare and serve the weekly community meals there. Each team is responsible for two meals per school year, which makes The Academy the greatest contributor to this community service program. The group leaves school around 3:30, armed with salad makings and homemade desserts. Students and their faculty advisors are greeted at the church by meals volunteers and are set to work in the church basement, matching these ingredients with some from the stores at the site. Dinner is prepared for anywhere from 35 to 80 diners. After those tasty desserts and cleanup, students are generally ready to be picked up by parents at the church around 6:45 PM.