The Garden of Martyrs: Excerpts from Student Commentaries

Below are excerpts from student commentaries for Michael Fay’s class following the AP U.S. History field trip to The Garden of Martyrs execution site. Read more about the trip. 

Ryan King
It was also chilling to envision a mass crowd of people from the old court house to this spot, it made me view the execution at the time to be sort of a parade for the town, rather than an act of “justice.” Being Irish, and having Catholic roots, it made me realize how much injustice occurred at the time.

Elyssa Katz
For both Daley with a family to look out for, and Halligan with such a full life ahead of him, the walk down the road and up the hill to the gallows must have felt like a lifetime. I agree with Ryan that it truly seems much more like a “parade” than an execution of the law. It is easy to understand why following the hanging the attitude shifted from one of curiosity, excitement, and revenge, to one, rightfully so, of solemnity and guilt.

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Class President’s Welcome by Maddy Stern ’14

Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh

Faculty, staff, guests, students, class of 2014 welcome to the 173rd Williston Northampton Convocation,

My name is Maddy Stern and I am the president of the senior class. I’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone here at Williston, to the teachers and staff who’ve spent the past weeks preparing for our arrival, to the guests who have traveled to join us, to the senior class for giving me the opportunity to stand up here before everyone. And also I probably won’t be getting a ride to school tomorrow or the necessary Dunkin coffee if I don’t thank my family for everything they’ve done for me. Since this is my only opportunity to get up and address the entire school I’d like to take a picture of you all real quick. Thanks. Please like that when I Instagram it.

But now to the real reason I’m up here. This speech is something I have been thinking about for a long time and I knew that I would be talking to the entire student body, therefore I should write a speech everyone could relate to. So last spring I began asking people what made a “good” convocation speech. The two pieces of advice I continually received were, “be funny” and “please keep it short.” If you know me, I really like to talk and I’m not that funny, so after ruling my only two pieces of advice inapplicable I did what any well-educated student would do, I went to Wikipedia.

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Convocation Welcome by Robert W. Hill III

Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh

Welcome to students, faculty, parents, trustees, and honored guests.  It’s not as cold as it was at graduation the last time we were all gathered together here.

It is great seeing all of Williston here this afternoon and thank you Mrs. Fulcher for bringing the classes of 2018 and 2019 over.

As Swanee urged us, tonight’s Convocation allows us to consider this time as one of transitions and a time to embrace possibilities and change.  For me, as I’ve said during opening assembly, the fall is my favorite time of the year since we are all adjusting to new surroundings, friends, classes, teams, dormitories, and new goals, whether internally or externally motivated. As the poet Ezra Pound said in one of my favorite quotes, “Make it new, day by day.”

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Senior Dinner Address by Sara Delano Collins ’98

Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh

Good evening faculty, staff, honored guests, and most importantly Williston Class of 2014. Thank you for having me as part of your senior dinner. It is truly an honor to be here and be back on campus. Believe it or not, when I come back I feel like I was just here yesterday. Campus always has this wonderfully familiar feel, like putting on your favorite pair of jeans.

When Mr. Pilgrim asked me to speak at the Senior Dinner, I said, “Of course.”  And then immediately thought what could I possibly have to say to any of you 18-year-olds that you would need or even want to hear about.

I mentioned to my mother that I was deciding what I would share with you and she asked me who spoke at my senior dinner. What were their remarks and what did I think of them?

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Reflections for Convocation 2013 by Glenn Swanson ’64

As the Williston Northampton School gathers together for this opening of the school year, we have an opportunity to have a few moments of reflection. Although this is obviously not the real beginning, it is the formal beginning as we convoke to celebrate the start of school. I ask that we reflect on where we are, where we have come from, and where we expect to be metaphysically at the end of the school year. We would like all of us to be here physically.

We all had some experiences this summer that offered a new perspective on life. In the next nine months—until the closing ceremony of Commencement for you seniors, followed by assessments for the rest of the students—I ask that we prepare ourselves for transitions that will come during the year.

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