Stories and updates from around campus

Being a Role Model for Failure

Rachel Simmons Urges Students to Learn How to Take Risks
Photo by Dennis Crommett
Photo by Dennis Crommett

Rachel Simmons opened her talk on Friday morning with a confession: She was a failure. In fact, she had once failed so spectacularly that the president of her college described her as an embarrassment.

What had she done? Ms. Simmons had been accepted to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar after college, but had decided to quit the program midway through.

“Up until that point, whatever I wanted to do, I had this feeling that I could get done,” Ms. Simmons, author of The Curse of the Good Girl and Odd Girl Out, told her audience of Williston Northampton students and faculty.

This was Ms. Simmons second visit to the Williston Northampton School. Ms. Simmons, A nationally regarded speaker on bullying prevention and female empowerment, spoke to Williston girls last spring about how they could identify hurtful behavior and change the patterns that created it.

During the special assembly on December 12, Ms. Simmons admitted that although she hated the Rhodes Scholar program, deciding to quit was a point of such personal shame that she felt “completely shattered.”

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Simpson, Harris-Kuiper, Gethings Sign National Letters of Intent

Three standout athletes signed National Letters of Intent during a series of special ceremonies at the Williston Northampton School’s Grubbs Gallery on Nov. 12.

Surrounded by the joyful chaos of family, friends, teammates and coaches, John “Jack” Gethings, Maranie “Mar” Harris-Kuiper, and Gracie Simpson penned agreements with Fairfield University in Connecticut, Saint Leo University in Florida, and Elon University in North Carolina, respectively.

Photo by Dennis CrommettBy signing the agreements to attend their chosen schools as part of the Class of 2019, the students have notified other schools that they may no longer be recruited. All three Williston seniors said the commitments came as a relief after an intense recruiting season and said they were very happy with their choices.

Mr. Gethings, who will captain the Williston team this year, will join the Fairfield Stags baseball team in the fall. Boys Varsity Baseball Head Coach Matthew Sawyer described Mr. Gethings as “a really savvy baseball player” who was “no doubt D1 caliber.”

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Microsoft Selects Williston as 2014-15 Showcase School

Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh
Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh

Update: On December 4, Microsoft selected faculty members Josh Seamon, Mattie Byrd, and Kim Evelti to be members of the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Program for 2015, joining a group of over 800 educators.

At the company’s Global Forum in Miami in November, Microsoft announced that the Wiliston Northampton School had been selected as one of 150 Microsoft in Education Showcase Schools, a designation that recognizes innovators in leading and learning.

“We are one of only 21 schools in the country and 140 schools around the world to be awarded this designation,” noted Williston’s Chief Information Officer Andrew Shelffo. “And it’s a testament to the hard work we’ve done over the past few years.”

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Writers’ Workshop Presents Anne Fadiman

Anne Fadiman 2014The Writers’ Workshop Series concludes its 17th season with the acclaimed essayist and reporter Anne Fadiman.

Ms. Fadiman—who is perhaps best well known for her book on the cultural conflicts between a Hmong family and the American medical system—will speak about and read from some of her work on November 3 at 7:00 p.m. in the Phillips Stevens Chapel.

Ms. Fadiman’s 1997 book on Lia Lee, a Hmong child with epilepsy, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: a Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures, won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest, and the Salon Book Award. According to a 2012 New York Times article, the book has also sold almost 900,000 copies and is required reading in university classes on medicine, social work, anthropology, and journalism.

“As a result, Lia’s story, as few other narratives have done, has had a significant effect on the ways in which American medicine is practiced across cultures, and on the training of doctors,” the article notes.

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Writers’ Workshop Presents Jennifer duBois

Jen duBoisTwo years ago she spoke intimately about crafting a story about Soviet-era Russia; on Friday, October 17, author Jennifer duBois ’02 returns to the Williston Northampton School to reveal the secrets behind her latest award-winning novel, Cartwheel.

Ms. duBois, who’s debut novel was the critically acclaimed A Partial History of Lost Causes, returns to the Writers’ Workshop Series to talk about her newest work, which recounts the story of an American foreign exchange student arrested for murder, and a father trying to hold his family together.

A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a former Stanford University Stegner Fellow, Ms. duBois is the recipient of a Whiting Writer’s Award and a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Award. Her debut novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, won the California Book Award for First Fiction and the Northern California Book Award for Fiction. It was also a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction. She currently teaches in the MFA program at Texas State University.

“We all look to our lives for inspiration in our fiction writing,” Ms. duBois told the Williston audience during her last visit. “But I think we can get in trouble sometimes when we see our lives as parameters instead of possibilities.”

Writers’ Workshop Series lectures begin at 7:00 p.m. in the Dodge Room, Reed Campus Center and are free and open to the public. The final installment of this year’s Writers’ Workshop will be on November 3 with essayist and reporter Anne Fadiman and will be held in the Phillips Stevens Chapel. The series, now in its 17th year, was founded by Madeleine Blais P’00, ’04 and Elinor Lipman P’00 and, in addition to four lectures by prominent authors each fall, includes master classes for Williston students.

Stories and updates from around campus