A site for all Williston Northampton speeches and reflections.

John McCardell Jr.’s Commencement Remarks

John M. McCardell Jr. addresses Williston’s 176th Commencement.

John M. McCardell Jr., vice-chancellor of Sewanee: The University of the South, president emeritus of Middlebury College, and an eminent historian, delivered the following remarks at Williston Northampton School’s 176th Commencement on May 28, 2017.

“Happy Are Those Who Find Wisdom”

Good morning! It is a pleasure and honor to be with you today, a time of ends and beginnings and a moment to recognize, accept, and perhaps even to celebrate both the continuities and the ambiguities of lives, which always, if kept in proper balance, are poised like the classical figure of Janus (for whom the month of January is named), with one eye fixed on the past, certain, known, remembered, and the other eye trained on the future, uncertain, unknown, anticipated. You stand today athwart the course of what Isaac Watts’s beloved hymn refers to as “time’s ever rolling stream,” which will eventually “bear all our souls away.” Continue reading

Commencement Address from Head of School Robert W. Hill III

Good morning and welcome, parents, family, friends, trustees, faculty and staff, our honored speaker, and most importantly to the Class of 2017. As we celebrate our 176th Commencement of The Williston Northampton School, you, the Class of 2017 are surrounded by loved ones brimming with pride in all that you have accomplished—in a show of your collective appreciation, please stand and face the audience and join me in extending to them a round of applause.

Williston would be only half complete were it not for the people arrayed behind me. They are your coaches, teachers, dorm parents, advisers, and mentors—so please join me in thanking them!  Continue reading

Mr. Teller on the Green Fence that Surrounds Campus

Archivist Richard Teller gave the following talk at the Senior Dinner on May 19, 2017.

When I drive to work, I usually come down Brewster Avenue. As I turn onto Park Street, I see the iconic Class Fence, stretching out of sight in both directions, each section with the date of a graduating class. 175 of them, so far. It’s a powerful metaphor. Every class is represented, going back to 1842 – there was no class of 1841. Plus: one enigmatic “L.L.D.”

Tonight you, Williston’s 176th graduating Class of 2017 are about to receive your number plaque. For seniors, the placing of the plaque is the first traditional end-of-the-year milestone in joining the rest of us alumni – about 30,000 people since 1841 – represented by that fence.

Yes, you are part of something larger than your few years at Williston.

The fence dates from 101 years ago, 1916, when Headmaster Joseph Sawyer, as part of a campaign to celebrate the school’s 75th anniversary, challenged every class to meet certain fundraising targets. Upon achieving them, the class could put its number on the fence. That’s why the dates are not in order; classes met their goals at different times. The campaign was 100 percent successful. Even those classes which had no surviving members were “adopted” by other alumni groups.

At some point mid-century the tradition changed and classes were awarded plaques at the time they graduated. From this point the numbers are consecutive — or were until recently, when “new” sections of the fence were installed on Payson Avenue and Galbraith Field.

Apparently, you haven’t yet decided where yours is to go. It’s your choice! And the mysterious “L.L.D.”? They were one of Williston Seminary’s fraternities. We don’t know much about them; they were a secret society that kept its secrets well. The frats were wisely abolished in 1926-28, but not before the L.L.D. alumni achieved a kind of immortality by pledging and contributing to the fund. So . . . it is more than just a fence.

On behalf of 30,000 alumni, welcome, class of 2017!

Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee David Felsen

David Felsen, Hall of Fame inductee

David Felsen gave this address during the Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on May 12, 2017.

It is a great honor to be inducted into The Williston Northampton Hall of Fame, especially in the company of my daughter, Kate, and son, David; my classmates from the class of ’62, celebrating our 55th Reunion; and my coaches, Ray Brown and Rick Francis. I have to say right away that returning to Williston Northampton and to my hometown evokes a flood of memories. Therefore, I’ve written out these remarks to keep myself within a certain time limit.

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Cum Laude Speaker Ann Sonnenfeld

OK, so it has only been 42 years since I have been on campus. Seems like yesterday.  The last time I was here was graduation day, 1975.  As luck always had it in the days before hair straighteners, it was a humid hot day, I was 15, dressed in an ivory peasant dress with a high waist that, according to my mother, made me look fat, and my hair was frizzy.  I brought the picture with me and yes, mom, you were right, the dress made me look fat. The Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead were wafting out from dorm room windows at Ford Hall and students who were not graduating were wearing plaid shirts, jeans and clogs.  Remarkably enough, I am still wearing plaid shirts, jeans and clogs much of the time. But no more peasant dresses and no kinky hair. Continue reading

A site for all Williston Northampton speeches and reflections.