Category Archives: Events

Kate Nocera ’01 Presents Cum Laude Keynote

The former political reporter offered advice on the dos and don'ts of a successful career

23855136824_b5fee16222_zThere was a point during Kate Nocera’s time at the Williston Northampton School when it was doubtful that she would even graduate.

In her keynote address for this year’s Cum Laude Ceremony, Ms. Nocera, a former political journalist, talked about how she went from a fixture in the Dean of Student’s Office, to accepting her diploma with Cum Laude honors.

“My actual favorite memory from Williston was being at graduation and hearing them calling the names of the Cum Laude inductees, and hearing my name among them,” Ms. Nocera recalled.

The Cum Laude ceremony, which honors 12 seniors who have excelled academically, was held on Friday, January 16, at 8:30 a.m. in the Phillips Stevens Chapel.

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Scooping Up School History

The Williston Northampton Ice Cream Flavor Contest is on!

coneWhat does 175 years of history taste like? That’s what Williston Northampton wants to know with a delicious new contest that will celebrate the school’s long and rich heritage.

Williston’s Ice Cream Flavor Contest, a collaboration between the school and Mt. Tom’s Homemade Ice Cream in Easthampton, began on Friday, September 4 and runs through November 24. Entries will be judged on flavor combinations, creativity, and use of school spirit, with the winner announced to the public on February 22.

The contest is open to anyone, whether or not they’re connected to the school, with entries accepted both at the ice cream parlor counter and via an online form.

Assistant Director of Alumni Relations and 175th Anniversary Coordinator Liz Cheney P ’20 said the decision not to limit contest entries was a deliberate one.

“It was one of those little fun things to hopefully get people’s creative juices churning,” she said, adding that the contest was also a way to remind people, both on campus and off, about the school’s long history.

“It’s bringing exposure to the school, but also [about] trying to help a local business, just those two things marrying,” she said. “And it’s a simple way to make people aware that it is our 175th.”

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Shabana Basij-Rasikh and the Crime of Educating Girls

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Photography by Chattman Photography

In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Williston Northampton welcomed Shabana Basij-Rasikh, an Afghan education activist and co-founder and president of the School of Leadership Afghanistan (SOLA) to campus on Monday, January 20.

Ms. Basij-Rasikh spoke to the student body about growing up in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, when girls were forbidden to attend school. “I have extremely amazing parents,” she said. “They could not stand the idea of us, especially the four sisters in my family, growing up uneducated.”

Rather than flee, her family decided to stay in Afghanistan and educate their four daughters secretly, illegally. For the next five years, Ms. Basij-Rasikh dressed in boy’s clothing and took her older sister to a secret school in the home of one of their neighbors. More than 100 young girls attended classes in this tiny makeshift school. Ms. Basij-Rasikh remembers constantly fearing that the Taliban would discover the school and kill everyone inside.

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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.