On Monday, February 22, the Williston Northampton School celebrates Founders Day, which celebrates the school’s founding 175 years ago. The event kicks off on Sunday night, February 21, with a screening of the film 1 Revolution about paralympian Chris Waddell. In addition, Mr. Waddell will speak the next morning at Assembly.
The entire school will come together Monday to celebrate with a program of community-building exercises. After the all-school Assembly, students will break into different workshops and advisory groups throughout the day. Founders Day will conclude with a birthday dinner at which a new Williston-themed ice cream flavor, whipped up for the occasion by Mt. Tom’s Homemade Ice Cream, will make its debut.
In celebration of the school’s 175th birthday, Williston asks that you consider making a Founders Day gift to the Williston Northampton Fund or the Parents’ Fund. Our goal is to inspire 175 alumni, parents, and friends to come together and pledge their support during the course of 24 hours; if we reach that goal, an anonymous donor will give $25,000 to Williston! The challenge kicks off at midnight and runs until 11:59 p.m. on February 22 (for more details, check out this video, and this page on our website). Watch our Facebook page and our website for updates throughout the day. We thank you for your generosity! Questions may be directed to Traci Wolfe in the Advancement office.
There 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.
What 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.”
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.
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.”