Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School in South Hadley boasts spirited commencement exercises

Date Published: 
June 7, 2012
Patricia Cahill
News Type: 

NORTHAMPTON – What was possibly one of the most high-spirited and colorful graduation ceremonies in the valley took place Thursday as 63 seniors from the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School in South Hadley received their diplomas at the Calvin Theater in Northampton. 

It’s the kind of ceremony where even the chief financial officer of the school cracked wise, making a casino joke, and was wildly applauded. 

So theatrical is the event that students have to audition to become part of the act. 

As school’s Pit Band performed, the graduates poured down the aisles to the front of the theater, strutting to the beat, flailing their arms, gyrating and never failing to draw a chorus of cheers from the standing, clapping audience. 

Most of the artistic young souls had decorated their mortarboards, including a young man who seemed to be balancing a small tree on top of his head and a young woman who had attached what looked like neon tassels to the corners. 

Head of school Scott Goldman, who was completing his first year, gave emotional thanks to the students, saying, “From day one, you welcomed me into your community.” 

Senior class speakers included Ezra Fradkin and Raychel Schindelman, who spoke as a duo, sometimes in unison, and Graciella Maiolatesi. 

An ensemble of six took turns reciting from the humorous essay known as “Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen,” while (why not?) two dancers twirled batons in the background. 

Even a montage of student faces on a huge screen drew shrieks of applause as each face appeared. 

History teacher Jim Cox and physical education teacher Michael Micucci presented diplomas, while science teacher Michael Pfeiffer had the honor of conferring “rights and responsibilities on the young people.” 

Ninety percent of the Performing Arts graduates are going on to college.