Williston+ Provides Cultural Experiences

The Chiara String Quartet

The resources of the Pioneer Valley and the Five Colleges made available to our students through Williston+ are rich. They include not only opportunities for academic collaboration but a variety of cultural events as well. Two series of experiences to which our students were exposed this year were classical chamber music and Chinese New Year festivals.

Williston archivist and assistant librarian Richard Teller ’77 took a group of students to a chamber music series at Smith College. The renowned Chiara String Quartet played Beethoven’s String Quartets as part of a six-concert series, and the Paris Piano Trio played music for violin, cello, and piano by Haydn, Beethoven, and Schumann.

Huihong Bao performs in the Spring Festival

The Williston community experienced a different type of music—along with dance and talent performances—during the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration, or Spring Festival, organized by Chinese teacher Dr. Huihong Bao and the students in her Chinese IV class. The show featured 25 different performances by Williston students, parents, and faculty, along with teachers and students from surrounding communities.

Dr. Bao also brought a group of students to UMass Amherst in order to watch the Spring Festival put on by the Chinese Scholar and Student Association there. Having received her MEd and EdD from UMass, she was a past organizer of the festival at UMass and used her experiences to inform the ambitious and successful evening she put on at Williston.

Writing in the Spring 2009 Bulletin about the long history of interaction between The Williston Northampton School and colleges in the area, Mr. Teller said, “The relationships … are so deeply interwoven that we sometimes take them for granted. It is worth reminding ourselves of the history of these connections, of their importance in the history of education in the Pioneer Valley, and for the bright future that these connections will undoubtedly make possible.”

College Counseling Road Trip Provides Early Exposure to Options

On a rainy day in March, every member of the junior class boarded a bus and headed off to one of the Five Colleges—Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts—for campus tours and information sessions with admissions officers. The purpose of this trip, according to Director of College Counseling Tim Cheney, was “to provide students with early exposure to the variety of options available to them at different schools and colleges.”

The day, Tim says, provided “a primer for students, to heighten their awareness and refine their thinking in advance of going out on their first actual tours with parents.” Many times juniors will take some time during spring break to visit a few colleges that they might be interested in. By visiting college campuses with Williston college counselors, and then meeting admissions officers at those campuses, Williston’s students will better prepared to get the most out of tours they do on their own.

Each junior got to choose which campus he or she would visit on this trip, which was organized by the College Counseling Office, with assistance from Kim Evelti, curriculum specialist for Five College resources. The feedback on the outing has been positive, and plans are underway to make it an annual event.

Classics Day at Mount Holyoke College

Williston students at the certamen (trivia) contest

The 2011 Classics Day at Mount Holyoke College drew more than 300 Latin students from area high schools for a day of workshops and competition. Williston students regularly participate in this event, which is held annually at one of the Five Colleges. Classics Day celebrates the study of Latin and classical culture.

The following students won honors at Classics Day:

1st place – Latin I certamen (trivia)
Ben Greeman ’15
Lena Gandevia ’15
Hannah Lewis ’13
Kelly O’Donnell ’13

1st place – poster contest
Elyssa Katz ’15

1st place – model contest
Laura Bowman ’13

2nd place – model contest
Josh Simpson ’15 and Chase Tanguay ’15

2nd place – novice level oration contest
Lucas Ferrer ’16

Collaboration in Education

Greg Mortenson at Williston

At its core, the Williston+ Program is about the power of collaboration; great things can happen with a fine independent school collaborates with its outstanding higher education neighbors. By working closely with the Five Colleges, Williston finds the right resources to give students multiple perspectives on the subjects that interest them the most. And with Williston’s close relationships with the Five Colleges, the topics for our students to explore are limitless.

In other words, collaborative learning works, collaborative learning is fun, and collaborative learning at Williston provides students with awesome opportunities to work with some of the most creative minds in the country. It also gives our faculty some cool opportunities as well.

Becca Macdonald

In advance of a visit to campus by world-famous author and humanitarian Greg Mortenson, students taking World Civilizations and Advanced Placement Comparative Government traveled to UMass to see a performance of the stage version of Mortenson’s book, Three Cups of Tea. Later that week, these students had the opportunity to meet the actors when they came to Williston and led dicsussion groups.

Becca McDonald ’11 spent the last semester studying Arabic at Hampshire College. Cross-registration for classes at the Five Colleges is available to Williston seniors through the Williston+Program.

Ben Demerath and friend

Music Teacher Ben Demerath visited Ghana over the summer as part of the UMass/This World Music program. His trip was sponsored in part by the Williston Plus Program. You can read about Mr. Demerath’s adventures on his blog.