There Are Mountains Beyond Mountains: MLK Day Speech by Daphne Lamothe P’15, ’16

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Good Morning,

Thank you Mr. Hill for your warm welcome. I’d also like to thank Bridget Choo, David Sanders for their invitation to address you all today, and to William Huang for his wonderfully adept assistance with the technology. I’m honored to speak to you all. As a Williston parent, I have come to know and appreciate all the good work that you do.

While preparing my remarks, I decided to give them a title: “There are Mountains beyond Mountains, So Put on your Traveling Shoes” and I hope it makes sense once I’m done speaking. Essentially I want to talk to you about some music and art that has touched me and that speak to some important points:

  • The Expression of identity through art, storytelling and music
  • The ways that artists try to convey their purpose and passions to other people through the stories they tell
  • And the ways that sharing stories create awareness of ourselves as members of a larger community.

Much of what I say is inspired by a sentiment Dr. King expressed in his final speech, “I’ve Been to The Mountaintop,” which he delivered on April 3, 1968, a day before he was assassinated. The speech begins with Dr. King saying:

“And you know, if I were standing at the beginning of time, with the possibility of taking a kind of general and panoramic view of the whole of human history up to now, and the Almighty said to me, ‘Martin Luther King, which age would you like to live in?’ I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dungeons of Egypt through, or rather across the Red Sea, through the wilderness on toward the promised land. And in spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there…”

After traveling through history and identifying some of society’s greatest civilizations, he concludes, “strangely enough, I would turn to the Almighty, and say, ‘If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the 20th century, I will be happy.’” Dr. King recognized that this was an odd thing to say because the world was, as he put it, is “all messed up. Trouble is in the land; confusion all around.”  But he recognized the potential for goodness and the beauty that existed in the place he stood, in that historical moment. I believe he was able to open himself up to the many challenges because he had a conviction of his potential to be an agent for social change and justice. Continue reading

You’ll Move the Earth: Cum Laude Speech by Allison Arbib ’03

2013 Allison Arbib at Williston Northampton's Cum Laude Ceremony
Allison Arbib '03

Thank you, Headmaster Hill. Welcome parents, faculty, staff, and guests. Thank you for inviting me. It is an honor to be here.

You worked hard to get here. You worked hard for brilliant and kind teachers who demanded it of you.  You spent freezing, dark Tuesday nights in December, going from sports practice to play rehearsal, staying up until 2 am studying for your Spanish test the next day, only to wake up at 6:00 to do you calculus homework.

Maybe after that Spanish test you scrawled notes  on Emily Dickinson’s poems for your AP English class before racing across the quad to the Schoolhouse. If you were lucky,  you were just fast enough to avoid the unit.

Or maybe your homework is always done early. Maybe you would never be caught  dashing something off at the last minute—I don’t know your life. Just mine.  But what I do know is that by achieving Cum Laude, you have achieved academic excellence.

Congratulations again. This is a big achievement, and you’ve worked hard for it, every day, in big ways and small. I may not know you personally, but I’m lucky enough to know the people who sat in those front rows in the class of 2003 (10 years ago!) and if you’re anything like them, you haven’t just excelled academically; you’ve excelled in sports, music, theater, the arts, and leadership. I admire you. And I know too that there is brilliance all around this Williston community gathered here today.

I wanted to make this speech special for you all, to mark this lofty achievement. It will, if all works out, include: neuroscience, marriage equality, the end of modern day slavery, … and bears. Grizzly bears, to be specific.

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Cum Laude Remarks by Peter Gunn

Editor’s Note: Peter Gunn, history and global studies teacher, presented the following during the Cum Laude Society Induction Ceremony on Friday, January 11.

Good Morning

We gather this morning to honor ten seniors who we will induct into the Cum Laude Society.  We celebrate their academic accomplishment and, in so doing, the fundamental mission of the Williston Northampton School.  Think of this as the academic counterpart to the Athletic Awards – only for the best of the best.

The Cum Laude Society is a national Honor Society modeled on Phi Beta Kappa. Williston Academy joined the society in 1921. The Northampton School for Girls received its charter in 1951.  In 1971 the society granted the merged Williston Northampton School a new charter.  Membership into the Cum Laude Society is the highest academic award that Williston Northampton can bestow.

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Safety is the Priority: All-School Assembly

by Head of School Robert W. Hill III. Originally presented during all-school assembly on Thursday, January 3, 2013.

I wanted to welcome everyone back, but also to extend a warm Williston welcome to a new member of the class of 2015, Fiona Li, who joins us from Hong Kong and will be living in John Wright.

Also, I want to welcome the latest member of the Athas family, Avery Elizabeth Athas, who was born two days after you left for the holidays.

The holiday banquet seems a long way off already and much has happened in our world.  It is appropriate—as an elementary school about 90 minutes away near Newtown, CT reconvenes today—to commit ourselves to all that is good in the world.  Events like Sandy Hook, and the transcendence of such tremendous loss, bring our own lives into perspective. That is a paradox of human nature I suppose.  When events broke, we acknowledged the tragedy with a moment of silence at the faculty and staff dinner, by words spoken by Mr. Conroy at the girls basketball tournament, my letter home to families, our alumni office reaching out to those Williston graduates living In Newtown, and most visibly perhaps, by our flags flying at half-mast.

Your safety and the safety of everyone at Williston is always our top priority—and while you students may sometimes get annoyed by us nagging parents saying to pause for cars, tell us when you are leaving campus, or avoid getting into dangerous situations, we say these things because we care about you. Williston is a large family.  We had an all school safety drill last fall and there will be others.  I don’t know if some of you listening have lingering questions or fears about Sandy Hook, but if you do, counseling services, advisers, and mentors are here for you.

Let’s make 2013 a memorable and safe year at Williston and it’s great to have you all back.