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New Perspectives - Dec, 1997 Issue #49

Cummington, Massachusetts 
Glen Bender, Admissions 

The Academy at Swift River “is a year-round, co-educational boarding school for students, ages 13 through 18, who are experiencing difficulties managing their lives at home or in school”. It sees itself as an “educational community” fostering personal growth, healthy self-expression and academic excellence through teaching individual responsibility and service to others. 

The Academy is a sister school of Mount Bachelor Academy in Oregon, and much of their philosophy is taken from that of Mount Bachelor. The Academy “was opened Tuesday, July 15, 1997 by seven students and a faculty of eight. The students and four faculty headed east from the campus of Mount Bachelor Academy in Oregon, retraced the Oregon Trail and the route of Lewis and Clark, arriving 15 days later in the literary back yard of some of the American authors whose writings helped shape the educational philosophy of the school.” They see some of their philosophical roots coming from Emerson, Thoreau, and other Transcendentalists. 

The campus consists of 636 acres of forest, meadow, beaver ponds and mountain streams. There are miles of marked trails. It is bounded on the west by the Westfield River and on the east by the Swift River. Facilities include “Tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts, a heated outdoor swimming pool, 23 kilometers of cross-country running, mountain-biding and ski trails, an outdoor ice skating rink, and a fitness center....” The campus is within 30 minutes of numerous high quality colleges, and cultural resources such as Tanglewood, The Berkshire Theater Festival, The Norman Rockwell Museum, and The Shaker Village. 

The curriculum is challenging and fully integrated, “consisting of rigorous academic preparation, a wide range of experiential learning, wilderness and other extra-curricular activities, as well as a proven emotional growth curriculum emphasizing the development of effective communication skills and the clarification of values.”

The program consists of “A comprehensive secondary school curriculum....; A proven emotional growth program consisting of carefully sequenced Lifesteps....; Individual attention and very small classes....; Credentialed and experienced Teacher- Mentors.; A Learning Disabilities Specialist and other licensed personnel for support of students and classroom teachers.; A highly structured, safe, secure, and emotionally supportive environment....; Extensive Wilderness Program with adventures of varying duration scheduled throughout the year.” 

Copyright © 1997, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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