Category Archives: 2012-13 Assembies

On Innocent Bystanders, Cruelty Online, and Other Bullying Issues

During class assemblies time on Wednesday, January 15, sophomores watched a video called “The Bullying Experiment,” and then discussions on topics relating to bullying. Among the questions they considered were, “Do you agree with the statement, ‘There is no such thing as an innocent bystander’?” and “Would you say there is bullying at Williston, or would you just say there is ‘drama’?” They talked about how bullying changes depending on gender, how social media can amplify, and how to stop bullying.

“Good conversations were generated,” wrote Class Dean Matthew Spearing in a follow-up email to the sophomores.

“I hope you continue to discuss these topics in a respectful way. Standing up to help those in need is a serious issue. Putting yourself in others’ shoes, and seeing different perspectives is important to have empathy for each other. How would you like to be treated, especially in a time of need? Answering that question for yourself can help guide you in the decisions you make.

“Try to remember that no matter how hard you try, the person who is bullying you might not be willing to change his or her behavior. This is when talking to someone else can be really helpful. This may seem scary at first, however, telling someone can lighten your load and help you to work out how to address the problem and how you can stop being bullied. Talking to someone is particularly important if you feel unsafe or frightened. Asking for help or talking to someone about it is not being weak or have given in. In fact, it can take a lot of strength and courage.

“Although you may not want to, it’s important to tell someone in charge about what is happening. Your teachers, advisors, dorm parents, coaches, and school counselors want to know about bullying so they can take action and try to stop bullying across the school – it’s their job to help.

“There are many people who can support you, including friends, Proctors, advisors, dorm parents, coaches, Class Deans, Ms. Noble and Coach K., older brothers and sisters, teachers, family members, counselors or parents.

“The person you decide to talk to will be able to give you support and may be able to suggest ways to deal with the situation that you hadn’t considered. It’s important to address the feelings that come from being bullied. If you are seeing a counselor and feel you might get too nervous to speak, write down what you’d like to say on paper or in an email before your appointment. You might also feel more comfortable taking a friend with you.

“Please come talk to me if you want to discuss anything about this or other ideas you have.”

William Kamkwamba at Williston

Editor’s note: William Kamkwamba is the co-author of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, which is based on his life in Malawi. He visited the Williston Northampton School on December 5, 2013 as part of the annual Sara Wattles Perry ’77 speaker series. The following is an except from his question and answer session where he spoke about traveling to the United States and seeing snow for the first time.

What was it like the first time I saw snow? It was exciting because it was the first time, but at the same time it was also challenging because it was so cold. The funny thing, the funny part, was that before I came here… My first visit, I was told it would be cold. So I was like, “Okay, it will be cold.” In Malawi, it gets cold and I can wear a tee shirt and put a long sleeved shirt on top of my tee shirt. Then I’ll be okay. I’ll be fine. That’s what exactly I did when I was coming here. I put up my tee shirt and then put up my long sleeve on top of it and I was inside the airport. When I came off the plane, inside the airport it was so warm. I was like, “These people are just joking. It’s not cold at all!” I didn’t know it was heated during the day inside the house, inside the airport. Because in Malawi when it’s cold outside, it’s also cold inside.  So I had that idea. I was like, “This is not cold at all.” It was like hot outside. And then I got outside… I was like, “How did you guys manage to be in this area!” That was challenging. So it was interesting.

Read the full article on his visit here.

This is a poem of, by and for Williston

Editor’s note: The following poem was read during Upper School Assembly on Wednesday, February 20.

To a few factory buildings now used to mold minds
To these teachers who give it their all every time
To students who strive as no others have striven
Allow me to speak of your gift that keeps giving.
Unique stands our passion, diverse our pure purpose
Collected comprising a community of courage.

Hot air blowing through white curtains on a summer morning,
I sleep and eat and play games, ignoring mom’s warnings,
that I should instead do some chores;
but it’s real nice to take a break every once in a while,
and get ready for the upcoming trial.

From cool autumn mornings to dark winter nights
Tirelessly working to achieve new heights.
Though it’s not always simple each attempt keeps us reaching,
Stretching and hoping,
To find a new answer, a reason, a meaning

As the final days of the school year approach
We will all buy our dresses and ties
splashing in muddy puddles where snow used to be
Reminds us that we are just past childhood
But the books we read
The opinions we form
And the world that awaits
All promise a bright future.

By Evan Jacobson, Jiwon Lee, Mika Chmielewski, and Laura McCullagh

Trickle Up: International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2013

Editor’s Note: English teacher Ryan Tyree presented the following during the All-School Assembly on Wednesday, February 6.

Never again.

For Holocaust educators, this is the rallying cry, the promise we remember each day, to stay alert and guard against the threat – that history will repeat itself. On Jan. 27, 1945 Allied troops liberated the largest Nazi Labor and Death Camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. For the last several years, that date has been set aside to reflect upon and remember the events known to us as the holocaust.

The holocaust was an event of global proportions, involving perpetrators, victims, bystanders, and rescuers. The most-commonly accepted time frame spans from 1933 to 1945.

You’ve heard of the trickle-down concept? The Holocaust was carried out from the highest levels of authority down. It was the organized, state-sponsored, bureaucratic, legal persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews and other targeted groups by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. What was wrong with these targeted groups? Why mistrust them, why shun them, why hate them? At the most basic level, they were outsiders. Supposedly different. Other.

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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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