Category Archives: Academics

Mark Franczyk ’00 to Speak at Cum Laude Ceremony

Photo - Franczyk, MarkAn alumnus who decided to pursue his passion in dramatic fashion will be the guest speaker at the school’s Cum Laude induction ceremony on Friday, January 16, at 8:30 a.m. in the Phillips Stevens Chapel.

Mark Franczyk ’00 spent a decade working as a banker with the financial powerhouse J.P. Morgan. After taking a job as an internal consultant, Mr. Franczyk quickly rose to assistant vice president in the company’s Treasury & Securities Services and then as an analyst in the Investment Banking Division.

While Mr. Franczyk was involved in what he described as “a multitude of M&A and capital-raising transactions, including the largest U.S. equity deal in history,” he also had decided that the banking industry was not a good fit. According to his biography, he “began to more aggressively pursue his interests in the culinary world—interests that had always been simmering during his time as a banker.”

By 2014, Mr. Franczyk had enrolled in culinary school, started a food blog (, and began interning in some of the top kitchens in the country. He now works as a pastry cook for the Alta Marea Group, Chef Michael White’s Michelin Star winning group of restaurants, which include Marea, Ai Fiori, Osteria Morini and Costata.

The following are the names of the 14 inductees—all seniors who have excelled academically:

Lena Gandevia
Margaret Glick
Emily Grussing
Cameron Hill
Umi Keezing
Dong Ho Kim
Katelin Murray
Emily Peirent
Loren Po
Mackenzie Possee
Matthew Steinberg
Cade Zawacki
Yiting Zhang

The Cum Laude Society, founded in 1906 and modeled after Phi Beta Kappa, honors scholastic achievement in secondary schools. The society has 382 chapters, with the majority 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.

New Faculty Bring New Sense of Community

Williston welcomes 12 newcomers to campus

10557428463_4385727194_zThe dozen members of the incoming faculty are not only joining a thriving community at the Williston Northampton School, they’re bringing an even stronger sense of community with them. Some of the new faculty members have spouses already at Williston; others are coming with their families to live and work at the school.

“It’s a fairly diverse group, but there are common themes,” said Dean of Faculty Peter Valine of the 12 new faculty members. “One thing that’s common to all of them, and this doesn’t always happen with each rookie class, is that they’ll all be living on campus.”

Mr. Valine said that having the new faculty both work and live at the school will create deep community connections—especially since so many of the faculty have had experience at other independent schools.

“All of them bring enthusiasm and excitement,” he said. “It’s like this infusion of energy and ideas that I think is incredibly exciting for the school.”

Meet the new faculty for 2014-15:

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The Next Big Thing for Clubs at Williston

Editor’s note: The following guest post was written by Christian Knapp ’14, president and co-founder of the The Williston Political Awareness Club, one of the most successful student-run clubs on campus this year. The club regularly had more than 30 students in attendance and hosted debates on such topics as welfare reform, fracking, and inequality in public education. On Monday, May 19, Mr. Knapp presented his senior project, “​The Next Big Thing for Clubs at Williston: The Unveiling of a New Resource that will Help Clubs for Decades to Come.”

By Christian Knapp ’14

According to political scientist Robert D. Putnam, the participation of American adults in civic organizations has been declining for decades. I believe civil society in high schools has faced a similar decline over the past few decades. We have no shortage of capable leaders and capable participants for student organizations. However, we do have a shortage of information to help students form and operate clubs. I have been unable to find a single book in the eight million volume Five College library system that provides thorough guidance for students who wish to run a student organization. To help fill this information gap, I completed a senior project over this past trimester that included a series of workshops on running student organizations at Williston. Additionally, I wrote a handbook titled How to Run a Successful Club.

For my workshops and my handbook, I drew upon my experience as the freshman class president, political club president, and founder and editor-in-chief of the school newspaper at my previous high school. As many Williston students will recognize when they read the handbook, I included many of the methods I used to make The Williston Political Awareness Club successful. I made countless mistakes in each of these organizations. It is my hope that this document will help student leaders avoid making the same mistakes that I made. In addition to my leadership experience, I conducted 17 interviews of students, faculty, and administration about their involvement with student organizations. Finally, I completed research in 22 books and scholarly articles, on topics ranging from leadership to marketing.

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How Did You Get Here? An Audio Exploration of the Williston Community

Editor’s note: The following was presented during the Senior Project Showcase on Wednesday, May 21 from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Dodge Room and the Grubbs Gallery.

Guest post by Maggie Fitzgerald ’14

My senior project, based on Middlebury College’s “How Did You Get Here?” is a collection of interviews with a Williston teacher, student, parent, and alumna. My goal for this project was to create a forum which students and teachers of the community could listen to the stories of their peers.  I’d like to express my gratitude and my belief that every person in the Williston community has been essential to the experience I’ve had during my three years at Williston. Hopefully, by viewing my project, students will gain a sense of appreciation and pride for their school. Although the sample size of the community seen in this project is small, the enthusiasm that gleams from the interviews gives an insight to the greater unity of the Williston Northampton School Community.

Listen to the full interview below.

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A Lesson on Vessels and the Art of Celebration

Robbie Heidinger Visit 1If there are trophies for athletics, why not have one for art as well?

That was the premise of a recent hands-on workshop by ceramic artist Robbie Heidinger P ’14 in the Grubbs Gallery. During her May 7 visit, she worked with two dozen students from Williston Northampton School’s Arts Intensive Program to craft just such a vessel.

In her own work, which was on display in Grubbs through mid-May, Ms. Heidiger said she has been inspired by the shape, colors, and textures of plants. She began her recent visit to Williston by passing around a vase of spring flowers and urging students to examine the shapes.

“There are really no rules,” Ms. Heidinger told them. “I just want you to start thinking about structure.”

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