All posts by Emily Gowdey-Backus

Afghan Activist Shabana Basij-Rasikh to Keynote MLK Day Assembly

Blog Shabana Basij-Rasikh, an Afghan female education activist, believes the best future for Afghans lies with educating the younger generations, both boys and girls.

Ms. Basij-Rasikh will be the keynote speaker at the Williston Northampton School’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day assembly on Monday, January 20.

In a 2012 TED talk Ms. Basij-Rasikh recalled the morning she was told she could openly attend school as a girl. Under Taliban rule she was forced to attend school in secret, putting her family in great danger. For five years she would dress in boy’s clothes and escort her older sister to a secret school where more than 100 students were packed into a living room.

“I was very lucky to grow up in a family where education was prized and daughters were treasured,” she said. “To [my father] there was a greater risk in not educating his children.”

Ms. Basij-Rasikh graduated magna cum laude from Middlebury College and was the first woman to attend college in her family. When she returned to Afghanistan she co-founded the School of Leadership Afghanistan, SOLA, a boarding school for girls in Afghanistan.

“To me, Afghanistan is a country of hope and boundless possibilities,” said Ms. Basij- Rasikh, “and every single day the girls of SOLA remind me of that. Like me, they are dreaming big.”

Williston Cum Laude Society to Induct 13 New Members

Farnham-BlogTim Farnham ’84, Mount Holyoke College Associate Professor and Director of the Miller Worley Center for the Environment, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Cum Laude induction ceremony on Friday, January 17.

Mr. Farnham, who has taught at Mount Holyoke College since 2009, is a nationally-recognized environmental studies scholar. He received his B.A. from Williams College and an M.S. in Natural Resources with a concentration in Forest Policy and Management from the University of Michigan. Mr. Farnham received his Ph.D. from the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

He has published articles in scientific journals on topics including biological diversity and timber management and presented at the 2005 and 2007 International Symposiums on Technology and Society and at both the Yale University Art Gallery and School of Forestry and Environmental Studies Doctoral Research Conference.

Mr. Farnham was inducted into the Williston Cum Laude society in his senior year and was the valedictorian of the Class of 1984.

Queen GodIs ’97, who was originally scheduled to speak at the 2014 ceremony, said recently that she was no longer able to attend.

The following students were inducted into Williston Northampton’s Cum Laude Society:
Elizabeth Calderone of Whately, MA
Matthew Carney of Wilton, CT
Matthew Cavanaugh of South Hadley, MA
Zhi Jie (Percy) Chen of Shanghai, China
Nan Ding of Shanghai, China
Olivia Foster of Longmeadow, MA
Brendan Hellweg of Holyoke, MA
Tory Kolbjornsen of Haydenville, MA
Shiyuan (Matt) Mei of Beijing, China
Giovanna Parker of Amherst, MA
Abigail Rogers-Berner of New York, NY
Madeleine Stern of Northampton, MA
Persis Ticknor-Swanson of Easthampton, MA

Inducted students and their parents will be invited to attend a reception immediately following the 8:30 a.m. assembly at the home of Head of School Bob and Kathryn Hill.

The Cum Laude Society, founded in 1906 and modeled after Phi Beta Kappa, honors scholastic achievement in secondary scholars. The society has over 350 chapters, the majority of which are in independent schools. In 1921, Williston Academy became a member of the society, followed by Northampton School for Girls in 1951. In 1971, a new charter was created for the Williston Northampton School.

A Boy, a Textbook, and his Drought-Stricken Country

Photo by Paul Schnaittacher
Photo by Paul Schnaittacher
Photo by Paul Schnaittacher

Currently a senior at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, William Kamkwamba, the co-author of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, took time between his final exams to speak at Williston Northampton as the fourth annual speaker in the Sara Wattles Perry ’77 lecture series.

Mr. Kamkwamba is a native of Malawi, a small African country bordered by Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, where electricity and running water are a luxury enjoyed by only two percent of the population. Mr. Kamkwamba’s family members make their living as farmers in a rural part of the country. As chronicled in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, in 2001, a record drought led Mr. Kamkwamba to drop out of school and, using textbooks as his guide, build an electricity-generating windmill out of scrap metal.

Watch Mr. Kamkwamba’s TEDTalk about building the windmill.

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Faculty Show Puts Great Moments on Display

Hume
Bud Vases by Natania Hume

From December to January, the Grubbs Gallery will display work by the Fine Arts faculty. Included in the exhibit are pieces by fine arts teachers Susanna White, Natania Hume, and Rachel Chambers; photography teacher Ed Hing ’77; costume designer, Ilene Goldstein; and art intern, Kate Verdickt ’05.

The exhibit features bud vases, in the style of contemporary ceramic artist Edmund de Waal, by Ms. Hume, who is also the gallery curator; costumes and jewelry designs by Ms. Goldstein; and landscapes and abstract paintings by Ms. White. Also featured are a selection of photographs from Mr. Hing’s Ten Years/Ten Countries, celestial paintings by Ms. Verdickt, and Ms. Chamber’s work, an installation made completely out of cardboard that covers part of the gallery in undulating 3D forms. Read statements from each artist here.

“It is a first for me, a genuine, humbling thrill. It is one of those great moments in my profession, when I literally see what it is that I love about my job,” Ms. White noted in her artist statement about the show. “Our gallery is an educational gallery and I think it will be interesting for my students to see the different types of work I enjoy doing most.”

The Visual Arts Faculty Show runs through January 6, 2014. There will be a reception with the artists on December 18 from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. in the Grubbs Gallery. Located at 40 Park Street, Easthampton, in the Reed Campus Center, the gallery is open on weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

Cruz, Krol, and Ostberg Sign National Letters of Intent

Cruz,-Sawyer,-Krol,-Ostberg
Cruz,-Sawyer,-Krol,-Ostberg
Mr. Cruz, Coach Sawyer, Mr. Krol, and Mr. Ostberg. Photo by Paul Rutherford.

On Thursday, November 14 and Monday, November 18, three members of the Williston Northampton varsity baseball team signed National Letters of Intent to play college baseball.

Erik Ostberg ’14 signed with the University of Hartford on Thursday. On Monday Anthony Cruz ’14 signed with Quinnipiac University and Adam Krol ’14 signed with St. Anslem College. By signing the letters, and agreeing to the respective scholarship agreements, the three students notified other schools that they may no longer be recruited.

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