Category Archives: Student Life

Students Dedicate Yearbook to Jenna Motyka

Ms. Motyka gives Gabby Mercier a hug.

A standing, whooping, stomping ovation, and even some tears, greeted the dedication of the 2017 Williston Northampton School yearbook, The Log. Its three editorsseniors Emma Reynolds, Gabby Mercier, and Saul Blain—announced at a recent assembly that this year’s edition is dedicated to Jenna Motyka, coordinator of student services.  Mr. Seamon captured video of the moment. The following is the transcript of the dedication, which was read by Emma Reynolds. Continue reading

Student Life Speaker Sheds Light on Teenage Brain

Dr. Abigail Judge addresses students at a recent Student Life assembly.

Teens need to know the difference between “hot” and “cold” cognition, and how making decisions in each of these emotional states can bring vastly different outcomes. Student Life Speaker Abigail Judge, a Cambridge therapist who also teaches at Harvard Medical School and conducts research at Massachusetts General Hospital, connected with her teenage audience using humor and self-deprecation during a recent assembly. Her message: know your brain.

“Hot” cognition occurs when emotions are high, when someone is upset, angry, or sad. Teens in this state should notice their feelings (a tight stomach, sweaty hands, a feeling of anguish, for example) and put their phone down. This is not the time to send a text or reply to a provoking phone call. In the cold light of day, Judge said, we all make better judgment calls on how to interact with people. Continue reading

School-Wide Food Drive Exceeds Goal

The Community Service Club issued a school-wide challenge: donate 1,000 food and personal care items to the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. As an incentive, the class with the most donations would get a dress-down day (a most-coveted prize!).

Sophomores Glede Wang, Simon Kim, and Robby Hill, shopped for food to donate before winter break.
Sophomores Glede Wang, Simon Kim, and Robby Hill shopped for food to donate before winter break.

At a recent assembly, Kate Garrity, Director of Student Life Curriculum and the faculty advisor to the Community Service Club announced the winners of the competition—and the fact that as a school, we exceeded our goal, bringing in 1,315 items, weighing in at 1,142 pounds, for needy families.

The Class of 2019 was first in the Upper School, and second overall  with 340 donations. And the Middle School collected 465 donations, which put them in first place for the entire school.

“Be proud of this and feel good about how many hungry families you were able to help,” said Ms. Garrity in announcing the winners. “Let’s do it again next year!”

Service Club Finds Ways to Give Back to Community

Members of the Community Service Club prepare food at Kate's Kitchen, which serves neighbors in need.
Members of the Community Service Club prepare food at Kate’s Kitchen, which serves neighbors in need.

When eight members of the Williston Community Service Club recently volunteered to prepare and serve meals for those in need at Kate’s Kitchen in Holyoke, one student learned something deeper about what it means to lack resources. Emily Yeager ’17 has been a member of the club since her freshman year and co-president since her sophomore year. “At Kate’s Kitchen, they are busiest at the end of the month,” she said. “People are typically paid early in the month and don’t come into the kitchen until the end of the month when the remainder of their paycheck can’t provide for them.”

As the day progressed and the simmering began, she also learned, “Sugar is a good addition to tomato sauce!”

Kate’s Kitchen is branch of Providence Ministries Network, whose mission is to feed, clothe, and house the poor of the Holyoke community. Its volunteers have served approximately one million meals since it was founded in 1980. Holyoke’s citizens face poverty at nearly three times the rate as those in the rest of the Commonwealth.

Kathleen M. Burke, director of community development, described Williston’s students as a “kind, selfless, energetic crew,” adding that they represented their school with flying colors.

Along with Emily, these students volunteered: Rachel Goodman ’20, Sahnet Ramirez ’20, Keyu Lu ’20, Jake Goodman ’19, Simon Kim ’19, Sarah Markey ’22, and Grace Quisenberry ’17.

Checking on the sauce
Checking on the sauce

The Community Service Club has more activities planned for the remainder of the year, according to Yeager. Between Thanksgiving and winter vacations, it will host its third annual food drive to benefit the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts. It will be running the food drive as a competition among grades, and the winning team will receive a dress-down day, a coveted prize at Williston.

“Once we return from winter break, the Community Service Club will volunteer in the local community,” Yeager said. “Typical volunteer trips are to the Ronald McDonald House in Springfield, Riverside Industries in Easthampton, Habitat for Humanity, and the Easthampton Community Center.”

In the spring it will be running its second blood drive on the heels of a recent drive that drew 40 donors, enough to save 120 lives. “We are hoping to bring more opportunities to give back to the Williston community this year,” Yeager said.

Williston Celebrates Founders Day

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.