Category Archives: Life on campus

Place to Place: Camp Belknap and Williston

Hanging in the main room at YMCA Camp Belknap on Lake Winnepausake are all sorts of banners, from colleges, universities, and boarding and private schools.  Williston’s banner has a spot in the pantheon in New Hampshire, hung many years ago by an unknown hand, I gather. The banner reveals a long connection between the two places—a connection that continues to this day.

Photo courtesy of Roger Maroni ’77

Roger Maroni ’77, who maintains an affiliation with Belknap, passed this photo along.  I had a chance to see the banner for myself when picking up our son Robby, who enjoyed a week of camp at Belknap. As a a sixth grade student, Robby got to experience the kind of connections that our students make in their own formative years to Williston.

As we gather together as a faculty to prepare for the school’s 172nd year, I think of the human connections that endure well beyond the passage of a single season.  This coming year will be filled with all sorts of accomplishments, disappointments, acts of selflessness, and acts of kindness. Above all, students and faculty alike will form connections to Williston. This is a transformative place—one which confers meaning and influence well beyond the Homestead’s gates.

Diploma Redux

Something out of the ordinary happened at the School’s 171st Commencement.

Actually, I would say that the entire Commencement was particularly memorable—given that a deluge outside drove us into the Athletic Center for only the third time in dozens of years. The address by Joanna Lau P’13 was captivating for the personal journey of courage and determination that it revealed in the story of the speaker’s mother.

But something else happened that was a bit odd.  After the diplomas were conferred, I was asked if we could re-present the diploma to one of our young men. His parents had arrived too late to see the live version.

Being Williston—and not to be hung up on unbending ceremony—we improvised. We had the young man return his diploma and then take the walk across the stage, handshakes and all, so that his parents could enjoy the moment.

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Fun, Games, and Giving

One of the many Willy Gras events

I could not help but notice (as I took my familiar walk across the quad to my office on this final Saturday of classes) the transformation that has taken place in that space over the past 18 hours.

The fun and play of our annual Willy Gras afternoon—a true community event where young faculty children enjoy the games alongside our students—has given way to the seriousness of purpose as parent and student volunteers prepare Reed for our third Red Cross Blood Drive of the year.

With exemplary student leadership from two young men in the Class of 2012,

Red Cross trucks unload in front of Reed
we have our largest registration of the year, promising to make this drive the most successful in terms of donations.

It seems only fitting to me that for a school where involvement, leadership, and service are so central to our lives, that many seniors will be giving of themselves, one last time, before they take the next big step of their lives on June 2 at the school’s 171st Commencement.

Ed. note: There were 82 donations at the blood drive, which means that the contributions will help as many as 246 people.  Special thanks to seniors Adrian Mendoza and Alex Nunnelly, and director of student activities Mr. Spearing.

Fiddler Plays to Packed Houses

Nearly 10 percent of Williston Northampton’s students were involved in the astonishing run of “Fiddler on the Roof,” which played to packed houses.

I have never missed a school play in my nearly 30 years in secondary education, and Williston’s Fiddler ranks at the top—not just for the overall effect of the show, but for some of stories from behind the scenes.

People are shocked to learn (I sure was) that two of the leads tread their first steps on stage in this show—a testimony to the coaching they have received from director Emily Ditkovski. Ditkovski focused on the process of discovery that new actors experience in doing things they never thought possible.

The tremendous accomplishments of the stage manager, light technicians, technical theater crew, costume creators—all amazing.  Adults and students come together in theater in what is quintessentially an incubator for content creation and collaboration.

Hat’s off to Williston’s theater.

Mother Nature’s Halloween Trick

VarsitySoccerThe recent—and in the long memories of veteran Williston people, unprecedented— early snow storm and resulting power outage has left us with many memories, stories, and reflections. In a real world test of our emergency planning, we overcame the substantial logistical hurdle of finding warm housing for 265 boarding students in a 24-hour period.

To recount the time line: Williston lost all power at about 8:00 pm on Saturday evening and by Sunday night, only a few dozen students had to spend a second night in cold dormitories, warmed by the upbeat and caring oversight of their dormitory parents.

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