HOLYOKE, MA – Students, faculty and guests of Mount Tom Academy gathered on May 28th at Mount Tom Academy’s Holyoke Community College campus to honor graduating seniors from South Hadley High School, Easthampton High School, Agawam High School, East Longmeadow High School, and Hampshire Regional High School at the Senior Awards Ceremony. Graduating Seniors return to their sending district to graduate, but each student was presented with a certificate to recognize completion of work at Mount Tom Academy.
During the services, the Mount Tom community also celebrated the life of John “Jay” Fortier, lead teacher of the academy for many years, who passed away in January after a battle with cancer. Students planted a flowering mulberry tree near the south entrance to Mount Tom Academy, located in the Donahue Building on the Holyoke Community College Campus. During the ceremony, Mount Tom administrator Matt Rigney told the assembled crowd of students and family members how important Jay Fortier was in the lives of dozens of students from western Massachusetts. Mr. Rigney then read the poem, “Landscape, Dense with Trees”, by poet Ellen Bryant Voigt (available at www.poetry foundation.org).
Mount Tom Academy is an alternative high school designed for students who have been unsuccessful in traditional high school settings, providing a high level of support. It employs self-directed learning methods that engage reluctant learners in their own educational process, removes students’ objections to studying and learning, and promotes achievement among students who would otherwise be likely to drop out of school.
Throughout its 15-year history, Mount Tom Academy has provided a safe, flexible environment for learning and has meant the difference between success and high school failure for more than 125 young men and women from 15 area high schools.