Stories and updates from around campus

“World’s Strongest Gay” Speaks about Living Authentically

Williston’s Head Athletic Trainer Rob Kearney stands out in a crowd. He sports a lizard-like Mohawk haircut and a bright pink tie. He exudes confidence and strength. And that’s because he’s strong. He’s one of the world’s strongest men, having appeared on televised “World’s Strongest Man” competitions and having pulled busses and airplanes and having deadlifted 925 pounds. Here’s his WSM profile.

During an all-school assembly on Oct. 18, Kearney told the Williston community his story with insight and good humor. In high school, he was an athlete and a weight-lifter. He was in a band. He was a really good cheerleader (he was even recruited by Division I schools for his cheerleading abilities). He dated girls. It seemed the perfect high school existence. But something was not right. Continue reading

Williston Breaks Ground on New Dormitory

The girls cross-country team and several students joined trustees and administrators for the ground breaking.

The Williston Northampton School broke ground on October 6 on a building project that will transform its Easthampton campus. The new dormitory and faculty housing are the cornerstone of a Residential Quadrangle that will be home to students and faculty. The quad will be located across Park Street from the main campus, just behind the Phillips Stevens Chapel.

During a ceremony attended by the school’s Board of Trustees, Chairman John Hazen White ’76, Head of School Robert W. Hill III, and students and faculty, the school broke ground on the state-of-the-art, 40-bed residence hall with four attached faculty homes. The new building will open onto a renovated green that will serve as an outdoor gathering space, replacing the parking lot to the rear of the chapel. The building is scheduled to open in time for the start of school in September 2018.

The new dorm floor plan includes a large common area for studying, socializing, and collaborating, and for gatherings that would welcome all students. The new residential quad will help Williston continue to draw academically talented students from across the country and around the world. The faculty housing, likewise, will enable Williston to attract and retain dedicated, high-quality faculty members. The project will continue the school’s strong commitment to energy efficiency and environmental sustainability through use of geothermal heating and cooling, high efficiency fixtures, and solar-heated hot water systems.

Supported by generous donations from alumni, parents, and friends, project site work commenced in early September, when two former faculty homes and one former residence hall (French House) were taken down to make room for the construction. The $8M+ project significantly advances Williston’s 2014 Strategic Plan, a main tenet of which is to create a robust boarding school culture and a vibrant residential community. The Board of Trustees approved construction of the project in the spring.

“Not only will this expand the living and studying spaces for students and faculty, but it will also enhance the strong sense of community that is already so much at the heart of Williston.” said Hill. He further remarked that the school community is energized by this project and excited to see the campus’ physical development.

The new dorm was designed by Flansburgh Architects of Boston, the firm that designed the residence hall at 194 Main Street. General Contractor Newfield Construction, Inc., of Hartford will take the lead on the project and has subcontracted with many local businesses, including Dietz Construction of Easthampton (site work), Whitely Electric of Easthampton (electric), RCI Roofing in Easthampton (roof work), and MJ Moran of Haydenville (plumbing and HVAC).

See photos of the ground breaking here.

Read more about Williston’s building projects, and see the live web cam of the dorm construction here.

20th Writers’ Workshop Series Brings Impressive Slate of Authors to Campus

Madeleine Blais

Celebrating its 20th year, the Writers’ Workshop Series continues with a slate of authors who write in a variety of genres. Our first visitor to campus will be Madeleine Blais P’00, ’04, one of the founders of the series, and a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and University of Massachusetts professor.  She is the author of “The Heart is an Instrument,” a collection of journalism, and “In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle,” chosen as a finalist in the category of general nonfiction by the National Book Critics’ Circle and cited by ESPN as one of the top 100 sports books of the 20th century. Her essays have been widely published. She joins us on Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. in the Dodge Room of the Reed Campus Center.

Timothy Donnelly

Arriving on campus on Nov. 6, Timothy Donnelly is the author of two books of poetry, “Twenty-seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit,” and “The Cloud Corporation.” Donnelly’s poems have been published in anthologies such as “Joyful Noise: An Anthology of American Spiritual Poetry,” as well as magazines and journals including Harper’s, jubilat, The Nation, and The Paris Review. Donnelly is an assistant professor and director of undergraduate creative writing at Columbia University. He is also the poetry editor for Boston Review. His talk will be held at 7 p.m. in the Grubbs Gallery of the Reed Campus Center.

Colum McCann, photo by Dustin Aksland

Colum McCann is the author of six novels and three collections of stories. Born and raised in Dublin, he has been the recipient of many international honors, including the National Book Award for “Let the Great World Spin,” and an Oscar nomination. His work has been published in more than 35 languages. He is the cofounder of the nonprofit global story exchange organization Narrative 4, and he teaches in the MFA program at Hunter College. He will be on campus for two days, working with students and teaching classes, starting Nov. 10. He will not give a public appearance.

Nic Stone

 After graduating from Spelman College, Nic Stone mentored teens and lived in Israel before returning to the U.S. to write full time. Having grown up among people with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work. She is the author of the forthcoming Dear Martin (Crown Books for Young Readers), which received 4.62 stars out of five on Goodreads. Stone will present at 7 p.m. on Jan. 23 in the Dodge Room of Reed Campus Center.

Convocation Marks the Start of Williston’s 177th Year

On a cool evening on September 15, students, faculty, and guests gathered on the quad to formally kick off Williston’s 177th year.

Keynote speaker Dr. Beverly Tatum, a former trustee and parent of Williston graduates from the classes of 2000 and 2004, initiated a conversation about the uncomfortable history of race in this country that she argued must be faced and fixed. The author of the much-studied and recently rereleased book, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race,” Dr. Tatum also has led Spelman College, a historically Black women’s college in Atlanta, and Mount Holyoke College. The text of her speech is here. Continue reading

Speaker Encourages Faculty to Consider Students’ Stories

Dena Simmons

Dena Simmons had some hard-earned advice for teachers: consider the backstory of each student in your class. From her childhood in the Bronx, NY, to boarding school in Connecticut, to a successful career in higher education, Simmons, who leads the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, brought her personal narrative to a recent faculty meeting. She shared difficult boarding school memories: a teacher publicly correcting her diction; walking into a dorm room and seeing the resident guarding valuables in Simmons’ presence; and being asked, “Where are you from? No, where are you from from?” She said she didn’t fit in at school but eventually absorbed the cultural rules.

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Stories and updates from around campus