Dr. Tom Schiff began the special morning assembly at the Williston Northampton School with a personal admission.
“I’m also a former smoker,” he said. “It’s a very hard thing to quit. So part of why I talk to people is that it is much easier to never start than it is to quit.”
As a health educator at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Dr. Schiff works on such issues as men’s health, violence prevention, and leadership. On April 24, though, he spoke to Williston students about another area in which he specializes—tobacco education and cessation.
Alexandra Starzyk had no idea why Athletic Director Mark Conroy was calling her name during assembly. The varsity ice hockey player knew that she had done well over the course of her senior season, but had no idea that in the course of the season she’d also set new school records.
So, when Mr. Conroy announced that Ms. Starzyk had reached a career 100 goals—something only three girls had done before—and, at 119 points, was the new all-time leading scorer, she was amazed.
“I had no idea I was on my way to reaching 100 goals,” Ms. Starzyk explained later via email. “Until they called my name in assembly, I was unaware I held the record for most points by merely one.”
Prep schools often are known for their competitive athletic programs. At the Williston Northampton School, students have the opportunity to go beyond their own play in a course taught by History and Global Studies teacher Diane Williams. Sports Studies, one of this year’s Williston Scholars courses, encourages students to evaluate how gender, race, economics, and politics interact with the world of sports.
“Teaching this class has been a really amazing opportunity to expose student-athletes to a variety of topics related to sport, sport culture, and dominant ideologies in society,” said Diane.
With Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in such close proximity, Williston works to take advantage of the diversity and opportunities to be found on those campuses. Over two trimesters, with the help of five college and university professors and staff, Williston Scholars classes introduce students to research and writing more commonly found in higher education.
Two postgraduate roommates—whose ongoing joke is that they are the biggest guys on campus, living in the smallest room—signed National Letters of Intent to play Division II football during a joint ceremony at the Williston Northampton School on February 19.
Dylan Arthurs said a weight had lifted off his shoulders as he signed the official letter to attend Stonehill College in Easton, Mass. as part of the Class of 2017. He was followed by William Consavage, who penned an agreement to attend Bentley University in Waltham, Mass. By signing the letters, and agreeing to the respective scholarship agreements, Mr. Consavage and Mr. Arthurs notified other schools that they may no longer be recruited.
“Are sports connected to what’s happening in the classroom?” It was their search for the answer to that question that lead Smith College professors Don Siegel and Sam Intrator to found an innovative, Springfield-based program called Project Coach.
In early December, the two professors, plus two others from their program, brought that question to students at The Williston Northampton School.
“There’s a notion that what’s going on in the playing fields connects to what’s going on in other parts of kids’ lives,” Siegel told the students. “The way to the boardroom leads through the locker room.”
The same question could be applied to the class—a new Williston Scholars program called Sports Studies. Created by Diane Williams, a history and global studies teacher, the course features a large slate of visiting speakers and is designed to give students local examples of “sports being used in a meaningful way to impact people’s lives.”