Tag Archives: visiting speaker

Rebecca Makkai: The Distance Needed to Write a Story

RM-Blog-2“Fiction becomes interesting when a line is crossed,” said author Rebecca Makkai during the first public lecture of the 16th Annual Writers’ Workshop on October 3.

In her lecture Ms. Makkai addressed how she came up with the idea for her award-winning first novel, The Borrower, which is centered on the relationship between rebellious librarian Lucy Hall and 10-year-old book lover Ian Drake, whose parents are forcing him to attend weekly anti-gay classes. Kidnapping, followed by a road trip from Missouri to Vermont, and references to classic children’s texts are all facets of the plot in Ms. Makkai’s novel. Continue reading

Patricia McCormick: Sadness with a Redemptive Quality

2013_10_Chattman_Patricia McCormick_profile Patricia McCormick doesn’t pick the lightest fare to write about. Topics of her award-winning novels have included self-harm, teenage substance abuse, sexual slavery, and Cambodian genocide.

In an introduction to her fellow author on October 7, Madeleine Blais P’00, ’04 recounted how Ms. McCormick’s son once asked, “Where do you come up with your ideas for books, Mom? What do you do, Google the word sad?”

Yet, Ms. Blais said that of the people she knows, Ms. McCormick is one of the upbeat and optimistic—sharing a quality of all good writers: a deep and abiding belief that stories matter.

“She gave you a very good summary of the books,” agreed Ms. McCormick. “They are sad, but they all have a redemptive quality.”

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A Conversation About Tobacco: UMass Expert Speaks at Williston

Tom Schiff of UMass at Williston

Dr. Tom Schiff began the special morning assembly at the Williston Northampton School with a personal admission.

“I’m also a former smoker,” he said. “It’s a very hard thing to quit. So part of why I talk to people is that it is much easier to never start than it is to quit.”

As a health educator at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Dr. Schiff works on such issues as men’s health, violence prevention, and leadership. On April 24, though, he spoke to Williston students about another area in which he specializes—tobacco education and cessation.

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“I Love the Way She Thinks”: Claire Rosen at Williston

"Up and Away," Courtesy of Claire Rosen
"Up and Away," Courtesy of Claire Rosen

“I really love the way that she thinks” was the way that Fine and Performing Arts teacher Ed Hing introduced photographer Claire Rosen on March 28 for the latest in the Photographers’ Lecture Series.

As Ms. Rosen flipped through slides of her work—moving from self-portraits based on fairy tales, to antique dolls and taxidermy, to dioramas of objects around her home—what became clear was that her particular way of thinking was unlike any other.

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“This is How Change is Made”: Allison Arbib ’03 at Cum Laude

Allison Arbib '03 at Williston's Cum Laude

Before she covered the eclectic topics she had planned for her speech—calculus, the end of modern day slavery, and grizzly bears, among them—Allison Arbib ’03 had to give a disclaimer.

“You may assume that I’m here because I was Cum Laude myself,” she told the assembled community during the Cum Laude Society Induction Ceremony on January 11. “I was not.”

Unlike the 10 seniors being honored during the all-school assembly, Arbib said she had always felt there was “some measure of excellence I came close to but never quite reached.” She had even received a C+ grade in calculus, she said.

“What I’ve learned— what I’m still learning— is that excellence is about working really hard every day to try and make things better, whether anyone is watching or not,” she said. “That there’s beauty in that struggle.”

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