Why would you want to leave Williston? That was the question Head of School Robert Hill III put to graduating seniors during Williston Northampton School’s 175th Commencement ceremony, which took place under a tent on the Quad on May 29. (See the links below for comprehensive coverage.)
Mr. Hill went on to describe the transition graduates were about to engage in as they move past their late adolescent years and enter the adult world. He added that their education at Williston Northampton School had fully prepared them for this next step.
Commencement speaker Nonie Creme ’90, in an authentic and inspiring speech that drew an enthusiastic response from the audience, further illustrated how a Williston education served her throughout her career and life. Creme, an entrepreneur who has started two successful beauty product companies, described herself as a “really messed up teenager,” and began her story in a Santa Fe jail where she ended up after running away from her Texas home. As she tells it, the choice between boarding school and jail was a “no brainer.”
Here at Williston, she reinvented herself from a “Southern yokel in mom jeans” (or so she felt) who didn’t know how to use the washing machines in the basement of her dorm, to a cigarette-smoking Goth girl who would steal away to New York City and frequent punk clubs on breaks from school. It was at Williston where she met her “tribe.” “I retain more friendships from Williston than from any other period in my life and I’ve lived, people,” she said. “That’s proof of how critical this place is, and how critical these relationships are to you at this stage of your life.”
After Williston, she studied art at Scripps College and then followed a boy to London, where, by day, she camped out in the Underground with her nail polish supplies and sold desk-side manicures to executives. Soon fashion-lovers sought out her polish mixes. From there, she became the founding creative director of Butter London, a high-end cosmetics company. After experiencing success there, she left to found Nonie Creme Colour Prevails, selling creatively packaged makeup for the mass market at drug stores around the country.
But she never abandoned her punk aesthetic. “It’s not lost on me that there are many people out there who might say a woman who won’t dye her hair and wears a skinhead and a septum ring doesn’t belong in the beauty industry, and certainly couldn’t be the meaningful Founder of a multi-million dollar business,” she said.
“Well, because of the love and support I received right here at Williston,” she told the audience, “I have the confidence to say ‘Screw you, I can do anything I want.’ And so can you, and so WILL you.”
Following the presentation of diplomas to the 132 graduates present (one graduating senior was not able to be at the event) by Board Chairman John Hazen White Jr., Senior Class Speaker Christopher Hudson gave his address.
Hudson asked his classmates to focus on three concepts: discipline, forgiveness, and attitude, and told them to stay positive and be grateful for the education they received at Williston.
Congratulations to the phenomenal Class of 2016!
Please see the following links for more on 2016 Commencement:
- Media coverage
- Video coverage
- Flickr albums
- Blog Posts