Helping Students Find the Perfect College Fit

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Catherine McGraw, left, and the College Counseling team

Catherine McGraw has been director of the College Counseling office for six months, and in that time, she has made it her mission to expose Williston students in earlier grades to the college-search process. As part of that process, she strives to help students identify a college or university that best fits their unique strengths and interests.

As her first year in this position unfolds, she’s been beyond pleased to witness Williston students meet with success as acceptance letters arrive from Dartmouth, Georgetown, Kenyon, University of Pennsylvania, Vassar, Williams, and many more. Building on that success, she’s instituted new initiatives and continued other tried-and-true programs that provide students and parents what they need to choose the college that fits them best.

“My philosophy emphasizes reflection and self-awareness,” McGraw said. “As students engage in a college search, I want them to feel that they are in the driver’s seat.”

McGraw and her staff have put in place four new programs to help that process this year:

  • Mini-college-fairs: In September and October, 75 colleges came to campus, and sophomores through seniors (as well as parents) were encouraged to visit with admission officers. The fairs were held during dinner and between classes and sports practices so students could drop in when it suited their schedules.
  • College tours: Over fall long weekend counselors took students to Babson College and Boston University.
  • College panel: During Fall Family Weekend, the office invited panelists from the University of Richmond, George Washington University, and Union College to discuss everything from how to stand out in the admission process to what to expect of college athletics.
  • Athletics panel: Coaches from Mount Holyoke and Amherst College and the Athletic Director at Williams College answered questions about playing at the college level during Fall Family Weekend.

These new initiatives supplement College Counseling programs that have been traditional at Williston:

  • At a recent assembly, students got to hear from several young alumni from the classes of 2014 to 2016. When Williston students heard from peers what college is like, McGraw said, they listened intently and were motivated to pursue a college that would suit them.
  • In February, College Counseling hosted a reception for parents of juniors to get the search process rolling.
  • In January of their junior year, students took a three-part class on the online platform Naviance, which manages the college search process, from researching colleges to hosting application documents. The class also covered the Common Application and standardized testing.
  • On two days in April students will have the opportunity to partake in mock interviews with visiting college deans of admission.

These programs are important in a year of significant change to the college admissions landscape. Starting this year, students are taking a redesigned SAT test with new content, format and scoring. The FAFSA application for federal financial aid now opens on October 1 instead of January 1, and it collects income information from an earlier tax year.

Through all that change, however, McGraw’s mission remains the same: “There’s a thread of discovery that runs through the college-search process. Students learn something about themselves,” she said. “In the end, we help students determine where they will thrive while striking the right balance between allowing enough time for researching and visiting colleges and starting at a point that minimizes undue stress on the student.”

 

Williston Model UN Team Heads to MIT

Guest Blog Post by Josh Calianos ’18

A delegation of 12 Williston students will join hundreds of students from across the globe to participate in a Model United Nations simulation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the weekend of February 10-12. At Model UN, students represent delegates from United Nation member countries and debate international issues.

The MIT conference is a three-day event where students will spend most of their time (8 hours a day) in various committees discussing and debating the most pressing international issues. The ultimate goal is to create consensus in the form of a resolution, or a proposal for how the UN should address the issue. Read more about the conference at our student-run Model UN blog.

Williston Northampton delegation:

UNSC France: Sophie Little
IAEA DPRK: Josh Calianos
WTO Czech Republic: Sydney Kim
WHO Singapore: Brooke Smith
Futuristic Uganda: Reilly Gluz
ASEAN Vanuatu: Francois Kaeppelin
ECOSOC Peru: Vishnu Sekar
IMF Greece: Simon Kim
Historical Horatio Gates: Alexander Foster
DISEC Colombia: Eleanor (Ellie) Scott
EU Vatican City: Sofia Flores
UNECLC ROK: Eleanor (Ellie) Wolfe

State Champ We the People Team Heads to D.C.

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The We the People team on the floor of the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston

Williston’s We the People team members for the second year in a row out-maneuvered their competition with their superior knowledge and application of civics concepts, securing the state championship. They will head to the national competition in the Washington, D.C., area this April to face teams from across the country.

The team studied and practiced doggedly this trimester, and the hard work paid off when the group met with success in Boston on January 28. Their advisor, AP US Government teacher Peter Gunn, praised the cohesiveness of the team, likening it to a troupe of actors who bond as they practice for a play, or a sports team. “It’s a formidable challenge, both intellectually and interpersonally,” he said.

Kevin O’Sullivan, Ellie Scott, and Shaela Chaires get ready for questioning.

On the day of the competition, the group is divided into groups of five, and comes prepared to answer four to six questions relating to the Constitution, Bill of Rights, or general government, in a setting resembling a Congressional hearing. Judges then follow up with a question that asks students to apply their knowledge to a new facet of a problem. The Williston team out-scored the second-place team by nine-tenths of a point, the narrowest victory in We the People history.

“In a time when an understanding of government seems vital, the engagement of students in the discussion of the structure, development, and process of government—well, I don’t know what we do that’s more important,” Gunn said. He added that when students feel a sense of competence and that they understand how their government works, they are more likely to participate in the democratic process: to keep up with news, to vote, to contact their elected officials, even to take our papers and run for office. Research shows that a high rate of We the People alumni find their way to elected local, state, and federal elected positions.

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WTP grads Alex Foster, Ava McElhone Yates, Tyler Greenwood, and Emma Reynolds flank Mr. Gunn, center.

As they prepared this fall and winter, the We the People team attracted a supportive community. Seniors Alex Foster, Ava McElhone Yates, Tyler Greenwood, and Emma Reynolds, who participated last year, helped coach team members this year. Numerous alumni and parents also helped students on their path to become state champs.

But students were not chained to their desks as they prepared for the competition. Students were out at rallies, attended the Presidential inauguration, and canvassed door to door. They developed their political ideas in a climate that did not take sides, Gunn said, but encouraged critical and independent thinking on issues both from the past that are still relevant today—such as laws that pertain to Native Americans—and current policies and programs, such as the Affordable Care Act. As team members, listed below, move on to the next phase in Washington, we send the them our warmest congratulations!

Fiona Bundy ’18
Josh Calianos ’18
Jesse Cassuto ’17
Shaela Chaires ’18
Vikram Dalmiya ’18
Megan Fydenkevez ’18
Brendan Hansen ’18
Anna Harvey ’18
Shana Hecht
Oliver Lawrence ’18
Kevin O’Sullivan ’18
Sara Renkert ’18
Natalie Romain ’18
Ellie Scott ’18
Triniti Slaughter ’18
Sophie Carellas ’18
Sofia Flores ’18
Madison Fulcher-Melendy ’18
Jerry Gao ’17
Josh Holmberg ’18
Gabriel Moon ’18
Katie Most ’18
Roya Mostafavi ’18
Jack Phelan ’18
Erika Sasaki ’18
A’kayla Williams ’18
Harrison Winrow ’18
Derrick Zhao ’18
Shirley Zhou ’18

AP French Students Explore ‘Charlie Archive’ in Boston

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AP French students explore Harvard University’s ‘Charlie Archive’ in Boston.

Susan Michalski’s AP French class took a field trip Friday to the exposition of Harvard University’s “Charlie Archive” at the French Cultural Center in Boston. Students spent the day immersed entirely in French.

The exposition contained 50+ framed artworks inspired by the January 2015 attacks of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper office in Paris. In addition, there was a collection of iPads each filled with thousands of digital images of “Je suis Charlie” tributes of all kind, from social media to poetry to street art from around the world. Historians, French and American, spoke on video of the larger importance of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Photos courtesy of Ms. Michalski
Photos courtesy of Ms. Michalski

The AP French students, currently studying global issues—or, in French, “Défis Mondiaux”—as part of the AP Curriculum, have been most recently delving into the issues freedom of press and expression. As a culmination of their work, each student will prepare a 5- to 10-minute presentation of the exposition image which is most pertinent to her in today’s world, touching upon the political climates in both the U.S. and France.

Following the exposition, the immersion continued at the restaurant Menton, Boston, where the class enjoyed a learning lunch, kitchen-side, at the restaurant’s “table de chef,” complete with a French speaking host.

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Classics Day Immerses Wildcats in Ancient Cultures

Rob Champigny '18 with another great leader, Augustus
Rob Champigny ’18 with another great leader, Augustus

Classics Day brings together students of Latin from around the Pioneer Valley who, for one day, immerse themselves in the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome. The annual event is organized and hosted by the Pioneer Valley Classics Association and held at Mount Holyoke College in nearby South Hadley, Massachusetts.

On January 20, Williston students were among 341 attendees at the event. Classics Day spurred student imaginations and inspired Wildcats to spend hours working on projects that were rewarded with 10 prizes. A remarkable example: One student, Gabe Moon ’18, taught himself metal working so he could create a prize-winning replica of a Roman helmet.

Gabe Moon '18 taught himself metal working to create this prize-winning Roman helmet.
Gabe Moon ’18 taught himself metal working to create this prize-winning Roman helmet.

In addition to competing and attending workshops on Roman games, gladiators, curse tablets and coins, among other topics, students toured the collection of Roman daily life objects in the Mount Holyoke College Museum and had the chance to examine 2000-year-old coins first hand with the curators.

Students won prizes in every category they entered: art (models, military, drawing, sculpture), certamen (Latin “quiz bowl”), and oral recitation (Greek poetry and advanced level prose). Here are the winners:

  • Honors Latin II (Oscar DeFrancis ’20, Julia Farnham ’20, Dylan Fulcher-Melendy ’20, Nat Markey ’20):
    • first place, Latin II certamen
    • third place, myth certamen
  • Julia Farnham, second place drawing
  • Dylan Fulcher-Melendy, third place model
  • Jason Albanese ’20 and Eric Albanese ’20, first place model
  • Lauren Solzak ’20, third place military
  • Gabe Moon, first place military
  • Kevin O’Sullivan ’18, third place advanced oral interpretation (prose)
  • Anabelle Farnham ’18, second place Greek oral interpretation
  • Jimin Lee ’20, third place sculpture
Students inspect 2000-year-old coins.
Students inspect 2000-year-old coins.

“Classics Day is a wonderful opportunity for our students to join a wider community of young Classicists in a grand celebration of Latin and the ancient world,” said Beatrice Cody, Latin teacher and head of the Language Department.

She continued: “Classics Day allows our students to show off the skills and knowledge they’ve acquired during their study of Latin. For example, our Level II certamen team won first-place in their competition with the knowledge they’ve amassed about Latin vocabulary, grammar, history, culture and myth. It also allows our students to explore more deeply an area of interest, and to showcase their wide-ranging talents. Anabelle Farnham, for example, has been studying Greek for the past three years and had the opportunity to demonstrate her

The quiz-bowl team blows off some steam.
The quiz-bowl team blows off some steam.

powerful memory and oratorical skill by reciting a Greek passage. For their three-tiered first prize model, Eric and Jason Albanese were able to revisit and explore the powerful symbolism of some myths they enjoyed studying in Latin class. Gabe Moon taught himself metal-working and created a first-prize Roman helmet from items in his kitchen—a mixing bowl and broom bristles. New students entered the contest for the first time—Jimin Lee and Lauren Solzak—and won prizes with their impressive artistic skill and careful study of ancient artistic iconography and design. It is so rewarding for our Latin students (and their teachers!) to be given this opportunity for creativity and excellence—and we couldn’t be prouder of them all for their heartfelt participation today.”

Williston Students Named to Trimester 1 Honor Roll

kids-studyingWhen you see the following Wildcats—all 303 of them—please give them your heartiest congratulations! In making the honor roll for Trimester 1, they have made tremendous academic achievements, and we are so proud of them.

Ninth graders:

  • Wing Shum Chan, Honors
  • Katherine Borden, Honors
  • Julia Farnham High, Honors
  • Adam Johnsrud, Honors
  • Conrad Kang, High Honors
  • Joe Rees, Honors
  • Kenneth Wang, High Honors
  • Dylan Fulcher-Melendy, High Honors
  • William Gunn, High Honors
  • Matthew Seltzer, High Honors
  • Abby Seltzer, High Honors
  • Jonathan Toth, High Honors
  • Connor Cavanagh, Honors
  • Louisa Weed, Honors
  • Oscar DeFrancis, High Honors
  • Alex Marwaha, High Honors
  • Anya Rozario, High Honors
  • Lila Schaefer, High Honors
  • Rider Bishop, High Honors
  • Nathaniel Markey, High Honors
  • Luke Po, High Honors
  • Connor Touhey, Honors
  • Abigael Hunter, Honors
  • Aidan Bourbonnais, Honors
  • Ciara Tapanes, High Honors
  • Kyle Grabowski, High Honors
  • Sabrina Serricchio, Honors
  • Mary Kate O’Brien, High Honors
  • Noah Brooks, Honors
  • Rachel Goodman, High Honors
  • Sam Haddad, Honors
  • Anna Moran, High Honors
  • Margaret Strange, High Honors
  • Eric Albanese, High Honors
  • Jason Albanese, High Honors
  • Madison Cardaci, Honors
  • Riley Roche, Honors
  • Nina Renkert, Honors
  • Finlay MacDonald, High Honors
  • Jamison O’Malley, Honors
  • Huong Nguyen, Honors
  • Tian Xing Wang, High Honors
  • Hana Tsukamoto, Honors
  • Panut Sawatyanon, High Honors
  • Britanie Acurio, Honors
  • Yi-Cheng Huang, High Honors
  • Ying Hsuan Tu, High Honors
  • Jun Hong Park, Honors
  • Changhyun Seo, High Honors
  • Jiakai Long, High Honors
  • Jiaxin Ji, High Honors
  • Keyu Lu, Honors
  • Jonathan Edwards, Honors
  • Toyokazu Sato, Honors
  • Zeyu Wang, High Honors
  • Casey Feins, Honors
  • Bao Pham, Honors
  • Bryn Saarela, Honors
  • Katherine Sherer, High Honors
  • Yael Trager, Honors

10th graders:

  • Joseph Robbins, Honors
  • Aizoelegbe Okaisabor, Honors
  • Kohmei Kadoya, High Honors
  • Dora Gordon, High Honors
  • Emily Warren, High Honors
  • Kira Bixby, High Honors
  • Gregory Iverson, Honors
  • Aidan Burke, Honors
  • Robert Hill, High Honors
  • Catherine King, High Honors
  • Donald Poulin, High Honors
  • John Spence, High Honors
  • Emily Whipple, Honors
  • Aidan McCreary, High Honors
  • Ryan Dwyer, High Honors
  • Abigail Coscia, Honors
  • Gavin Girardin, High Honors
  • Christopher Denham, Honors
  • Annika Johnson, Honors
  • Sabrina Jia Xin Shao, High Honors
  • Caleb Stern, High Honors
  • Anna Willems, High Honors
  • Eleanor Wolfe, High Honors
  • Magnolia Armstrong, High Honors
  • Julia Cavanaugh, Honors
  • Madeleine Elsea, High Honors
  • Karen Janocha, High Honors
  • Molly Solan, Honors
  • Kassandra Orcutt, Honors
  • Nicholas Barber, High Honors
  • Rachel Burke, High Honors
  • Ethan Bradway, High Honors
  • Erin Daley, Honors
  • Virginia Kozikowski, Honors
  • Sally Amara Alrutz, High Honors
  • Wyatt Wegrzyn, High Honors
  • Stella Piasecki, Honors
  • Claire Harrison, High Honors
  • Maura Holden, Honors
  • Timothy Rego, High Honors
  • Caroline DiFiore, Honors
  • Christopher Ramirez, High Honors
  • Daniel Kissane, Honors
  • Walter Kissane, High Honors
  • Steven Townley, High Honors
  • Chelsea Clark, Honors
  • Ella Goodman, Honors
  • Ha Phan, Honors
  • Hoang Dang, Honors
  • Kantaratt Phentrakul, Honors
  • Sophie Little, Honors
  • Graham Allardyce, High Honors
  • Kate Quimby, Honors
  • Seoyoung Cho, High Honors
  • Insoo Kang, High Honors
  • Seungwoo Kim, High Honors
  • Rio Oshima, Honors
  • Jiacheng Shen, High Honors
  • Jiashu Xie, High Honors
  • Yoshika Annabelle, Honors
  • Kevin Lassman, Honors
  • Brooke Smith, Honors
  • Alexis Parker, Honors
  • Qixuan Wang, High Honors
  • Emilio Servin, Honors
  • Lin Yen, High Honors
  • Tayah Sommer, High Honors
  • Eunyul Han, Honors

11th graders:

  • Matthew Nguyen, High Honors
  • Atahomon Okaisabor, Honors
  • Emma Lehrer, High Honors
  • Anabelle Farnham, High Honors
  • Dohee Kim, Honors
  • Roya Mostafavi, High Honors
  • Emily Rosenberry, High Honors
  • Fiona Bundy, High Honors
  • Timothy Fay, High Honors
  • Madison Fulcher-Melendy, High Honors
  • Couper Gunn, Honors
  • Henry Poehlein, Honors
  • Eleanor Scott, Honors
  • Robert Champigny, Honors
  • Gabriela Jones, Honors
  • Jack Phelan, Honors
  • Joshua Holmberg, Honors
  • Caroline Channell, High Honors
  • Gabriel Moon, Honors
  • Ana Weed, High Honors
  • Sophie Weed, High Honors
  • Joshua Calianos, High Honors
  • Sophia Schaefer, High Honors
  • William Lane, Honors
  • Natalie Romain, High Honors
  • Maya Soley, Honors
  • Sophia Carellas, Honors
  • Lydia Pollard, High Honors
  • Brooke Leveillee, High Honors
  • Kathryn Most, High Honors
  • Bryan Soder, Honors
  • Victoria Zingarelli, Honors
  • Anna Harvey, High Honors
  • A’Shaela Chaires, Honors
  • Brandyn Jones, Honors
  • Mika Sovjani, Honors
  • Victoria Palumbo, Honors
  • David Janoschek, Honors
  • Connor Power, High Honors
  • Aidenne Alden, High Honors
  • William Smith, Honors
  • Gabriella Dicomitis, Honors
  • Kevin O’Sullivan, Honors
  • Hanzhang Zhao, High Honors
  • Elise Dunn, Honors
  • Jordan Strum, Honors
  • Caleb Cost, Honors
  • Sara Renkert, High Honors
  • Elizabeth Cuevas, Honors
  • Keilly Moncada, High Honors
  • Oliver Lawrence, High Honors
  • Harrison Winrow, Honors
  • A’kayla Williams, Honors
  • Brendan Hansen, Honors
  • Kyle Caddo, Honors
  • Anh Vu, Honors
  • Yana Pyryalina, High Honors
  • Triniti Slaughter, High Honors
  • Papa-Sam Essuman, Honors
  • Marielle McHale, Honors
  • Momoka Oda, Honors
  • Toshiki Ayabe, Honors
  • Elin Blomquist, Honors
  • Liangyi Wu, Honors
  • Jiaxuan Chen, Honors
  • Wangchen Zhou, High Honors
  • Fuka Iwama, Honors
  • Junya Ozaki, Honors
  • Maria Warlick, Honors
  • Shana Hecht, Honors
  • Minh Nguyen, Honors
  • Danielle Marquez, Honors
  • George Goodhead, High Honors
  • Connor Canterbury, Honors
  • Sabrina Liew, High Honors
  • Xavier Thibault, High Honors

12th graders and Postgraduates:

  • Eniola Ikuku, High Honors
  • Eason Law, Honors
  • Zachary Robbins, High Honors
  • Alara Akisik, Honors
  • Henning Fischel, High Honors
  • Michael Warren, High Honors
  • Tyler Greenwood, High Honors
  • Owen King, Honors
  • Ava McElhone Yates, High Honors
  • Cameron Ward, Honors
  • Lindsay Whipple, High Honors
  • Emily Yeager, High Honors
  • Molly Zawacki, High Honors
  • Nicholas Randolph, High Honors
  • Natalie Richard, High Honors
  • Olivia Bonavita, Honors
  • Noah DeVos, High Honors
  • Sarah Marion, Honors
  • Gabriella Mercier, High Honors
  • Sima Gandevia, High Honors
  • Michael Mieczkowski, Honors
  • Matthew Otting, High Honors
  • Christopher Young, Honors
  • Cody Cavanagh, Honors
  • Nehamya Nascimento, High Honors
  • Emma Morehouse-Hulbert, High Honors
  • Parker Sweet, High Honors
  • Natalie Aquadro, High Honors
  • Nicholas Hill, High Honors
  • Kiran Marwaha, Honors
  • Samuel Greeman, High Honors
  • Ian Ostberg, High Honors
  • Anna Wilinsky, High Honors
  • Caitlin Keefe, High Honors
  • Gabrielle Record, High Honors
  • Saul Blain, High Honors
  • Makenna Hambley, Honors
  • Rida Kareem, Honors
  • Hannah Baker, High Honors
  • Devin DeVerry, High Honors
  • Emma Reynolds, High Honors
  • Alexander Bzdel, Honors
  • Arvin Fieldman, High Honors
  • Emily LeRolland, Honors
  • Natalie Fontenot, High Honors
  • Tomasz Paluchowski, High Honors
  • David Fitch, Honors
  • William Ashenden, High Honors
  • Jacob Zaranek, Honors
  • Derek Zewinski, Honors
  • Leah Pezanowski, Honors
  • Vasilios Fokas, Honors
  • Nicholas Schofield, Honors
  • Steven Gower, Honors
  • Jordan Sansone, High Honors
  • Alexander Foster, High Honors
  • Caroline Musicant, High Honors
  • Owen Sylvia, Honors
  • Jin Young Lee, High Honors
  • Kelli Peters, Honors
  • Donald Battimelli, Honors
  • Destiny Nwafor, High Honors
  • Wiley Jung, High Honors
  • Long Nguyen, High Honors
  • Nam Pham, High Honors
  • Zi Dong Gao, High Honors
  • Sitai Chen, Honors
  • Andrew Spiegel, Honors
  • Erika Sasaki, High Honors
  • Joseph Shively, Honors
  • Sung Min Hong, High Honors
  • Chris Espinal, Honors
  • Jesse Cassuto, Honors
  • Jake Prossner, Honors
  • Justin Park, High Honors
  • Haruka Ikemoto, High Honors
  • Jiaying Tang, High Honors
  • Sydney Kim, Honors
  • Chia Hung Wei, Honors
  • Mary Koback, High Honors
  • Shengfu Shen, High Honors
  • Chaiwat Setwipatanachai, High Honors
  • Sarmad Mahmood, High Honors
  • Grace Quisenberry, High Honors
  • Becky Lin, Honors
  • Michael Lemme, High Honors
  • Issei Nakano, High Honors
  • Lanxi Kang, High Honors
  • Soma Mizobuchi, High Honors
  • Vy Phuong Nhat Tran, High Honors
  • Sarah Andrews, Honors
  • Alexis Ryan, High Honors
  • Francois-Xavier Kaeppelin, High Honors
  • Spencer Danforth, High Honors
  • George Lantz, High Honors
  • Michael Mahoney, Honors
  • Kyle Henseler, Honors
  • Simone Barrett, Honors
  • Alexander Gold, High Honors

Congratulations, all!

Williston Wildcat Robotics Team Battles to Victory

Williston Wildcat Robotics Club battle to victory.
Williston Wildcat Robotics battled to victory.

Nine members of the robotics club journeyed to Boston University Academy recently to participate in a VEX Competition Qualifier for the Southern New England Regional Tournament. They returned with a trophy, sharing the win with an allied team.

The tournament is played on a 12-foot by 12-foot field. Two alliances — one red and one blue — composed of two teams each, compete in matches consisting of a 15-second autonomous period followed by one minute and 45 seconds of driver-controlled play. The object of the game is to attain a higher score than the opposing alliance by placing game pieces in your zones and by hanging robots on your hanging bar.

After competing in a series of matches, teams were ranked and given priority to select alliance partners. The top-ranked team, the Mecha Eagles from Saint John’s Preparatory School, selected the Williston Wildcat Robotics to join their alliance. According to the structure of the tournament, the alliance winning two out of three matches goes on from the quarter finals to the semi-finals, and then onto the finals. The Wildcats and the Eagles went all the way to capture the win.

The following students attended: Jack Long ’20, Drew Manory ’19, Keyu Lu ’20, Rider Bishop ’20, Yana Pyryalina ’18, Matthew Nguyen ’18, Alex Marwaha ’20, Mark Wang ’20, Kohmei Kadoya ’19. Other team members did not attend the event: Nhat Ha ’20, Sarah Markey ’22, Destiny Nwafor ’17, Glede Wang ’19, and Shirley Zhou ’18.

Congratulations Wildcats!

Split Decisions in Three Eighth-Grade Mock Trails

Deliberating in the Middle School
Deliberating in the Middle School

Three eighth-grade juries came to different verdicts in mock trials that centered around a case where a customer was burned by coffee served by a fictitious coffee shop, and sued for damages. After hearing from witnesses in the case, the juries had to decide who was at fault, the plaintiff (Lee Cavanaugh, the coffee drinker) or the defendant (Cup of Joe, the business who sold the beverage).

According to Middle School History and Global Studies Teacher Andrew Syfu, jurors were tasked with deciding if the defendant was negligent from a legal perspective, and if the shop was strictly liable for the injuries sustained by Mr. Cavanaugh.

After careful deliberation, juries came to divergent conclusions, Mr. Syfu said. “However, all juries believed both sides were at fault for the coffee spillage.” One jury ruled in favor of the defendant (Cup of Joe), and the other two juries ruled in favor of the plaintiff (Lee Cavanaugh).

A snowball fight that followed was "a very civil fight," according to Mr. Syfu.
A snowball fight that followed was “a very civil fight,” according to Mr. Syfu.

Mr. Syfu explained the academic significance of the mock trial as a way to give students a better understanding of our legal system, while increasing confidence in critical thinking, reasoning, and presentation skills. “The experience also helps students understand the role of government in resolving disputes,” he added. Finally, the students are asked to assess how their team worked together. 

As an amusing aside, after the first day of witness testimony, students left Whitaker-Bement and blew off a little steam by hurling snowballs at one another. As Mr. Syfu noted, “(I)t was a very civil fight!”

Three Faculty Members Inducted into Cum Laude Society

Cum Laude inductees Beatrice Cody, Thomas Johnson, and Sarah Sawyer
Cum Laude inductees Beatrice Cody, Thomas Johnson, and Sarah Sawyer

Three faculty members were inducted into the Cum Laude Society during a recent ceremony at Williston. They are Beatrice Cody, head of the Language Department; Thomas Johnson, history and global studies teacher; and Sarah Sawyer, head of the English Department.

Dean of Faculty Peter Valine welcomed the three into the society and gave the following speech: “The Cum Laude Society is a fellowship of scholars whose purpose is to recognize excellence in academic work. We appreciate and applaud your efforts in inspiring students and striving for excellence in the craft of teaching. For your contributions to scholarship and learning in our community the Cum Laude Committee has selected you for induction into the Williston Northampton Chapter of the Cum Laude Society. As members of this society we look forward to your support of both students and peers in their quests for growth and knowledge.”

Advice for Seniors: Exercise the Mind to Prepare for College

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Students react to Mr. Sarat’s engaging talk.

“To prepare for college, you need move beyond just spitting out what you’ve memorized or read,” Amherst College professor Austin Sarat told seniors the morning of October 14 in Assembly. “You need to actually think. And then you need to take it one step farther and think against your idea.” Sarat, who is the William Nelson Cromwell professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, described this process as a form of resistance training that is essential for reasoning and thinking independently in college. “When your teachers here question what you are writing or saying, they are the equivalent of your strength and training coaches,” he said.

Sarat asked the audience of seniors and a panel, which included Head of School Robert W. Hill, Theater Director Emily Ditkovski, and Math Teacher Carey Baldwin, to come up with arguments and counter-arguments for a number of hypothetical scenarios. For example, if a student steals a book from the library, but minutes later learns it was “Take any book you like from the library day,” should the student be punished for his actions? Was a rule actually broken?

As various answers were debated, Sarat reinforced the importance of listening carefully, actively thinking versus waiting for a classmate or teacher to reveal “the answer,” and cultivating these habits now to prepare for the rigors of college classes.

Sarat similarly urged thoroughness when offering seniors a collection of his rules for reading and writing in college. “Reading is mental exercise. Some of it will be easy and fun. Some of it will be hard and no fun. The harder the reading, the more valuable it is to your intellectual development,” he said. “Reading something once and fast is merely ‘horizontal eye exercise,’” he added, asking students to think of reading the way they think of fitness, acting, or other pursuits. “You don’t just practice your lines for the play once, right?” he said. “The same is true of reading well.”

Sarat closed by reminding seniors of the importance of daily practice. “Writing, reading, thinking…practice these habits every day here at Williston,” he said. “Don’t skip a day. They will prepare you for college.”