Stories and updates from around campus

Defining Identity

Williston Northampton's 2015 Diversity Symposium Tackled Difficult Questions
Photo by Braden Chattman

How do you define yourself?

That was the simple—and surprisingly complex—question at the heart of the 2015 Diversity Symposium.

Keynote speaker and advocate Thomas Smith viewed the issue as a matter of triumph through adversity, while University of Massachusetts faculty member Dr. Kerrita Mayfield saw it as a problem of integrity.

In their student addresses, which began a day of workshops, Maranie Harris-Kuiper ’15, Verdi Degbey ’16, and Cameron Stanley ’16 strove to answer the question through the multifaceted lenses of race, culture, sexual orientation, and religion.

Mr. Degbey offered his response in the form of a spoken word performance, entitled “Self Reclamation,” in which he urged his fellow students to discard labels and “know yourself, then be yourself.”

“If we tried to copy you through a machine,” he said. “It’d read error because there are just too many levels to what makes you an individual.”

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Renovations Turn Chapel Into Space That Welcomes All

Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh
Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh

Before Thomas Smith began his address in Phillips Stevens Chapel— before he had even said a single word—the assembled Williston Northampton students and faculty gave him a rousing ovation.

What had the audience found so moving? Mr. Smith’s simple act of ascending to the stage, which he accomplished by bypassing the stairs and rising on the chapel’s brand new wheelchair lift.

That Mr. Smith, the Diversity Symposium keynote speaker and a quadriplegic, could access the stage smoothly and easily was worth applauding.

The new lift, part of an extensive, year-long chapel renovation project, was the final piece in a retrofit puzzle that made Phillips Stevens Chapel completely accessible for the first time since it was constructed in 1965.

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Relaunched Homepage Offers More Stories, Content

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The new homepage has a stronger focus on content.

At the Williston Northampton School, we never stop looking for ways to improve.

We in the Communications Office were very excited in the spring of 2014 to unveil a brand new website. 2.0 featured a fantastic new look and a content management system, with a new section called “I Will” and mashup pages that aggregated all of our great content.

But our faculty and students are always writing tons of interesting pieces, posting gorgeous photos, and creating funny and fascinating videos—having them tucked into mashup pages didn’t seem the best way to showcase that content.

We decided to find a better way to highlight what they do.

That was why, starting earlier this spring, we began building a new version of the homepage. All the content—and those helpful functions—remained. What was new was the amount of interactive features.

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“What’s New” features stories in brief, a calendar, and links to social media content.

Earlier this month, we quietly launched our newest project. The design was the same, but sections of the site now rotate, drop down, and pop open. This version of the homepage features a banner slideshow, to highlight our top stories; a space for photos of campus; and a box with our latest, greatest videos. There’s also dropdown page called “What’s New” with more stories, as well as links to Williston’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Our alumni section has also moved to the top menu bar, to make it easier to find, while our Middle School section went under Academics, giving it the scholarly heft we felt it deserved.

The new homepage design is a lively and interactive one—inviting visitors to dig deeper. While the new features showcase our amazing content, all of the user-friendly features on the website remain the same.

We’re always learning—it’s kind of what we’re best at around here—and we’d love to hear from you. What features do you like best? And what would you like to see more of in the future? As always, please drop us a note or add your comments in the section below.

Williston to Test Emergency System

A new emergency alert system put in place last year will run through its final, and most critical test on June 17.

Last fall, Williston Northampton successfully tested the school’s ability to send emergency messages through text, email, and social media. The final test is to ensure messages can also be heard across campus in the event of an emergency.

Williston will broadcast a 20-second tone, followed by a verbal announcement that a test is underway. Both the tone and announcement are intended to be heard mainly by those on school grounds, but should also be audible to a greater or lesser degree by the surrounding community.

The messages will be broadcast from several high-powered speakers—two mounted on a pole at Galbraith Field, facing southeast and southwest, and three on the roof of the Reed Campus Center, facing into campus—that were installed last summer by Acoustic Technology, Inc., a Boston-based company.

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Alumni Magazine Wins Gold

Williston Northampton’s alumni magazine can add another gold trophy to the shelf.

On Wednesday, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) announced that The Bulletin had won one of its top national awards, in addition to a district award that the magazine won earlier this year.

WNS_Bulletin_Spring2013_BCoverIn announcing the gold medal, CASE judges noted that the bi-annual magazine was “a strong publication with compelling content.”

CASE received more than 3,200 entries for this year’s Circle of Excellence Awards. Judges awarded 93 bronze, 106 silver, 91 gold and 17 grand gold medals in nearly 100 categories.

According to the association’s website, Circle of Excellence Award winners are selected based on such factors as impact, overall quality, innovation, and use of resources. The awards are open to colleges, universities, independent schools and nonprofits.

Judges in the Independent School Magazine category commended The Bulletin for its layout, content, and photography.

“What is unique is that it comes across as really authentic photography that captures the moment,” they wrote. “There was space allocated to featuring new faculty with authentic and relevant photos of them that related to the area in which they are subject-matter experts. This introduces new faces to alumni and friends.”

They also praised the well-organized class notes section, use of infographics, and pages that informed readers about website updates.

This is the second award for The Bulletin, which received a gold medal at the association’s district awards in January. The gold was presented at the 2015 CASE District I Conference in Boston on January 30.

Judges for the district noted that they liked the magazine covers and modern color choices, appreciated the great framing of photos, dynamic spreads, and strong writing, and felt that articles such as “We the People” felt “fresh and optimistic.”

“Excellent! We all wanted copies!” they wrote.

At the district level, the school also received silver medals for the website, Admission interest cards, and the Middle School viewbook.

“We’re excited about all the awards, and we’re pleased Williston is getting this recognition for its materials,” Director of Communications Traci Wolfe said, adding that she was particularly proud of her staff: Design Director Aruna Goldstein, Director of Online Communications Rachael Hanley, and Project Manager Dennis Crommett.

“It’s good to see their dedication to excellence recognized in this way,” she said.

Head of School Robert W. Hill III called the awards “impressive,” particularly since they came from a leading organization such as CASE.

“I understand that ‘gold’ is not automatically given out each year which makes The Bulletin’s achievement that much more impressive,” he wrote in an email to the Communications staff. “This is a great feather in the cap for Williston and a testimony to the creative efforts and roll-up-the-sleeves work that you folks do.”

See the online version of The Bulletin here.

Stories and updates from around campus