Category Archives: Visiting Speakers

Commencement Speaker McCardell Leads the University of the South

Bonnie and John McCardell

John M. McCardell Jr., president emeritus of Middlebury College, and the vice-chancellor of Sewanee: The University of the South, will be the speaker at the 176th Commencement of the Williston Northampton School.

In 2015, McCardell was appointed chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). NAICU board members set the association agenda on federal higher education policy; actively encourage support of association priorities and initiatives; and oversee the organization’s financial administration. 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

Spirited Message of Inclusion, Belonging Kicks off Why Not Speak? Day

_R6A9959
Photo by Joanna Chattman

Guest Post By Matt Liebowitz

Set aside the descriptors—gay, black, southern, Christian, preacher—and Reverend Erik Taylor Doctor’s message is one of simple and pure inclusion: we are all different, but we all share common bonds.

However, those undeniable identifiers of his character are exactly what brought the Williston community together during his Why Not Speak? Day February 22 assembly, and helped make his message—a sound, sweet one—resonate so strongly.

Continue reading

Speaker Fort to Students: Ask Questions, Pursue Justice

20170117_Nyle-FortThis Martin Luther King Jr. Day, speaker Nyle Fort had a message for Williston Northampton School students: Don’t be taken in by the feel-good “lullaby” that usually passes for celebrating the legacy of Dr. King, which he called, “a sweet song sung by defenders of the status quo to keep us asleep.”

The third Monday in January has come to be associated with community service projects to honor the late civil rights advocate. Fort said he didn’t want to diminish the idea of service. However, he quoted Dr. King who said, “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

Continue reading

Williston Student Presents $2,750 Donation to Riverside Industries

Nisa Zalta and Char Gentes of Riverside Industries address a student assembly
Nisa Zalta and Char Gentes of Riverside Industries address a school-wide assembly

At an assembly on November 29, student council president Natalie Aquadro ’17 presented a donation of $2,750 to two representatives of Riverside Industries. Students then got to hear about an organization based near the school’s campus in Easthampton that for 48 years has been working for adults with developmental disabilities.

Char Gentes, president and CEO, and Nisa Zalta, director of community relations, projected a series of photographs of clients at their jobs, and enjoying programming including music, art, farming, and yoga. They spoke to students about how adults of all abilities have the right to work, volunteer, learn, and play.

“When each of us can be ourselves, we all live a more rich and full life,” Zalta said.

The donation represented 5 percent of the proceeds earned at the student café, the StuBop, in the 2015-16 school year. Each year, the student council votes to donate those proceeds to a charity, and last year, the council chose Riverside.

The organization provides individualized services combining life-skills development, rehabilitation, and employment options for more than 230 adults living with developmental disabilities from 33 towns in Hampshire, Hampden, and Franklin counties.

As she introduced Gentes and Zalta and handed them a check, Aquadro, who is from Northampton, said, “Thank you for all the great work you are doing in our region.”

Williston has had a working relationship with Riverside for many years. At various times, the school has employed clients for housekeeping, dining services, and grounds positions. Recently, Riverside held a Windows of Opportunity Campaign and Williston contributed $15,000 over a three-year period.

“The work Riverside Industries is doing benefits the community on multiple levels,” said Head of School Robert W. Hill III. “Williston is delighted to support this organization.”