Sophia Schaefer ’18 and Harrison Winrow ’18 have been accepted to the prestigious New England Young Writers Conference at the Bread Loaf campus of Middlebury College. The program accepts a maximum of two students from high schools across the country and takes place May 18-21.
Williston’s English Department Head Sarah Sawyer said the program is “excellent—and selective.” Williston students have gone every year since 2010.
It’s Sophia’s second time attending the conference; she was there last year. “I loved it. I am so excited and happy to be going back,” she said. “You are surrounded by people who love to read and write. It was a liberating experience for me. The conference is like an oasis where I can just focus on writing and reading.”
Sophia recently won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award (a Regional Silver Key in Humor) for her work “Booger Loser.”
She enjoys writers who reflect the coming-of-age experience: Tobias Wolfe, David Leviathan, and Sherman Alexie. She is currently reading short stories by fellow humorist David Sedaris.
When she takes up the pen, she writes creative nonfiction. “I like writing about my own experiences, but adding extra details to make it more interesting,” she said. “I also like writing poetry.”
It will be Harrison Winrow’s first visit to the conference. “I am very excited to work with some passionate students and professionals,” he said.
Harrison enjoys Billy Collins and Sherman Alexie “to stir me up,” and added that Dave Eggers is his favorite author.
When Harrison writes, he drifts toward poetry. “I just love the oft-rhythmic, lingering, romantic language, and the application as a visual art in structure, the raw emotion or cryptic narrative, and the strength–the implied strength from the words unwritten.”
“I love the freedom of writing,” he continued. “Just as I like the freedom of speaking: gusto, bravado, intonation, a reflection of self. This is also why my AP English 11 grade is as shameful as it is,” he quipped, “too much gusto, not enough analysis.”
At Williston, we strive to help all students develop as thinkers, athletes, artists, and people, but we are especially proud of how we help female students grow into strong, thoughtful, young women, ready to take on college and the world with confidence. In our supportive, yet challenging environment, girls are surrounded by other amazing female students, as well as excellent female teachers, coaches, and dorm parents, who create an environment where young women feel as though they can do anything. Here are three seniors in their final months at Williston, well prepared for what their futures hold.
Anna Wilinsky, a six-year day student proctor from Florence, Massachusetts, appreciates that Williston has consistently opened avenues for her to try something new and to be supported by faculty. Whether it was starting the computer programing club with her friend Molly (the majority of club members are girls), her role as editor of the literary magazine Janus, serving as an Areté and Writing Center tutor, or opting to build a ceramics portfolio in Arts Intensive this fall, she has tried something new each year with the support of her advisor and teachers.
“There is no place you can find where you will be so holistically and consistently supported than Williston,” she said. Recently Anna was inducted into Williston’s Cum Laude Society, which honors scholastic achievement in secondary scholars, and was accepted to Dartmouth College. She originally visited Dartmouth at the suggestion of her advisor, Susan Michalski, a Dartmouth graduate. “My advisor has been incredibly influential throughout my time at Williston,” Anna said. “Ms. Michalski’s encouragement and reassurance has helped me to break out of my shell and thrive. She knew Dartmouth would be a good fit for me, and as soon as I stepped on campus, I knew she was right. Her own experiences at Dartmouth shaped her life, and I am so excited to be able to share these experiences with her.”
Alexis Ryan came to Williston from Mesa, Arizona, and has been on the go since she arrived here three years ago. She is serving as a proctor, a member of the discipline committee, and is taking four AP courses. She takes on new challenges every day of the week. Additionally, she has been a varsity athlete on the field hockey, ice hockey, and track teams for her entire career here. While she’s been part of a NEPSAC Championship team and has earned two Individual Championships in track, her passion is on the ice during the winter. This year she is one of two seniors on the hockey team and the team won its Holiday Tournament at Winchendon.
Alexis’s play and leadership has been instrumental to the success of the team. She has made a home on the east coast and feels the sacrifices she made to leave her family at such a young age has given her more rigorous academic challenge and greater athletic opportunities. She feels ready and prepared for all that is ahead for her on the ice and in the classroom at Middlebury College, where she plans to go this fall. She has more to accomplish this winter and spring as she hopes to lead her hockey team to another playoff berth and is eager to break the school shot put record in the spring. She broke the record for the discus last spring and has her eye on the NEPSAC record as well.
Natalie Aquadro is leading the student body as student council president and is a captain of three sports teams: cross-country, swimming, and track. She describes two of the highlights of her athletic career at Williston as having a nearly undefeated cross-country season end at 12-1 her junior year, and winning the New England Championships in swimming and diving two years in a row. Natalie is a day student from Northampton, Massachusetts, and has been at Williston since seventh grade. She had pictured playing soccer and lacrosse all six years at Williston, only to be captivated by the energy of the running program. Once in the Upper School, Natalie discovered her passion for working with her classmates and joined the student council. She served as a class representative for three years before stepping into her role this year as student council president. In addition to Natalie’s athletics and student council work, she is an Admissions Intern, an Areté tutor, and has worked on Williston’s social media team, iWilliston. Natalie is still making up her mind about where to attend college.
Congratulations to these three smart, strong, and creative young women!
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.”
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
“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
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.”
When 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.
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.
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).
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!”