All posts by Kate Snyder

Anabelle Farnham ’18 Convocation Speech

Anabelle Farnham ’18

Students, faculty, staff, class of 2018, welcome to Convocation!

I was terrified. Excited, but terrified. No, I am not talking about when I sat down to write this speech. I’m talking about when I was first accepted to Williston the spring before freshman year. I was afraid that I wouldn’t dress the right way; that I wouldn’t be smart enough; that I would fail in athletics; that I wouldn’t know how to be “preppy”; and before the year had even started, I somehow already felt behind. Luckily, that summer I met one girl from Williston that would change all of that. Continue reading

The Importance of Perspective and Learning the History We Don’t Know

Dr. Beverly Tatum

Williston Northampton Convocation Speech
Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum
September 15, 2017

A long time ago I read a disturbing story that had a powerful effect on me and I want to begin my talk today by telling it to all of you.  Unfortunately I no longer remember where I first read it, but I believe it comes from the Buddhist tradition.  It is a story about a king who wanted to create a large bell that could be heard across the country side, one that would be astonishingly beautiful in tone.  He commissioned the most highly skilled bell maker he could find, and the bell maker worked diligently to produce a wonderful bell.  The first bell he made was good, but not great.  The sound quality just wasn’t what the king was looking for.  A second bell was cast, and still despite the bell maker’s best efforts, it wasn’t good enough for the king.  Finally in frustration, the bell maker told the king that the only way to get the beautiful tone he was looking for would be to sacrifice a young maiden in the casting of the bell.  And so the king ordered his soldiers to find a suitable candidate.  In a nearby village they found a poor woman with a young daughter, and snatched her away from her pleading mother.  She was sacrificed for the bell, and indeed the bell that resulted was both beautiful to see and had an astonishingly pure and lovely tone.  All who heard it marveled at the sound, but the poor mother who knew firsthand its terrible history cried with grief each time the bell rang. There was injustice literally baked into that bell, but those who did not know that history never had to think about that injustice.  They simply enjoyed its sound. Continue reading

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!