Category Archives: Faculty Speaker

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!

Senior Dinner Remarks by Kate McKillop

Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh
Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh

These remarks are inspired by a conversation, well more of an argument, that Mr. Harper and I had about a month ago regarding a scarf. This scarf. These scarves used to be what Widdigers wore during performances. During this argument, I basically demanded that Mr. Harper reinstate the scarves, not because I am particularly into neckware, or because I am especially into how this scarf looks, but because of what these scarves represent, something that I do really love: traditions!

As many of you know, I went to Choate Rosemary Hall and then that same school gave me my first job. Now, this is not a speech about Choate, though many of you know fond I am of my school, but my love for Choate is hopefully parallel to how you will love Williston or already do.

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Hall of Fame Remarks by Coach Sue Barnett

18091569823_2b0de7c3f6_zEditor’s note: Sue Curry Barnett was inducted into the Williston Northampton Athletic Hall of Fame on June 6, 2015. Sue Barnett’s award was presented to her by the Rev. Mary Conant ’74. 

This is one’s worst nightmare, having to follow a preacher,
especially for this aged out, former Physical Ed teacher,
a coach who dreaded awards assembly talks
like I dreaded missed free-throws and giving up walks.

Thank you, Mary, for the history of girls’ and women’s sports,
and thanks for your generous comments, ignoring my warts.
Something you’ve learned that we all need to heed,
being kind to each other helps us all to succeed.

One piece of unfinished business from the earlier event honoring Couchie as it translates to this event, to Williston Northampton athletics and to me personally. Thanks Couchie and Janet for three girls who at times made up three-11ths of the starting line-up of soccer teams and one-third of the starting line-up of softball teams.

For the past five months, I have been in touch with dozens of alumnae and have spent some time in the school archives, primarily in search of information for Mary. I kept nothing: not yearbooks, no score books, not records. In all the resonse I received, only two of you passed along information about records—and that information was limited. All of you passed along stories; memories of your playing days and reflections on what you learned beyond skills and tactics. Some would say we failed Mary. We did, I guess.

But you didn’t fail me.

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On Heart Health by Marcus Ware

Editor’s note: Former faculty member Marcus Ware presented the following speech about heart health during an Upper School assembly on February 18, 2015.

I would like to thank Ms. Brousseau for reaching out to me a few weeks ago and asking me to consider coming to Williston today to speak to you all. I would also like to thank Mrs. Pickrell and Ms. Jordan Sansone. As I understand it, they too have had their own experiences with Heart Health and are here today with me to bring an awareness to the community about this topic. Thank you, ladies.

Williston, thank you for having me today. I want to share something personal with you. In fact, even people in my extended family do not even know or understand my heart condition. By the end of this talk, I hope you will have learned something about my condition, will have been slightly amused by my humor, and will want to take steps in being aware of your own conditions as they relate to heart health.

Okay, let me take you back in time. It was January 1998. I was a junior at Springfield Putnam High School. And, like most seniors I was living up my junior year of high school. NSYNC was singing songs like, “it’s tearin’ up my heart when I’m with you…” and Backstreet Boys told me that I could say, “But my love is all, I have to give…!” Yes, it was the time of boy bands and I was having fun. My wife at the time, Beyonce, was part of a group known as Destiny’s Child… Okay, okay, no, I was not married, but I had to make sure that you were listening because, people, what we are here talking about today is a serious topic.

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Laughter Followed Him

Allison Evans remembers Brian Crockett

Editor’s note: To honor the anniversary of faculty member Brian Crockett’s passing, his friend and fellow teacher, Allison Evans, wrote the following remembrance.

2014 Evans Brian CrockettAs first year teachers, Mr. Harper, Ms. Schneider, Mr. Crockett, and I attended NENTS (New England New Teacher Seminar) at Pomfret in August of 2013. Part of the application process was to write one fact about yourself that made you unique. Mr. Harper was home-schooled until senior year of high school; Ms. Schneider has 45 cousins; and I have been horseback riding for as long as I can remember.

When it was Mr. Crockett’s turn to share his fact, Ms. Schneider and I laughed in disbelief. No way could it be true. His fact was simple, “I am the funniest person you will ever meet.” Little did we know at the time, that it was true. His larger-than-life personality was present from day one. By the end of the week, the three of us were convinced of this fact and could see that no matter what, a positive energy filled with laughter followed Mr. Crockett everywhere he went.

In no time, we were fast friends. Mr. Crockett lit up any room. Even with his annoying phrases (Ms. Chambers…) or his “real” buffalo chicken dip (because there is fake chicken, right, Mr. McKillop?), Mr. Crockett always found a way to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

There are so many lessons in life that I have learned from knowing Mr. Crockett, but there is one that stands out each and every day: To never give up. Stay true to yourself and your passions. Do what you love because you can. Smile. Laugh. Each and every day. Cherish these moments because you never know when they’ll be gone. People might not remember what you say, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

Mr. Crockett impacted so many lives—more than I think he realized. We are so blessed to have known him. Today, take a moment to remember Mr. Crockett. There is no way a few paragraphs and some words on paper can truly describe the incredible person that Mr. Crockett was. But today I challenge you to take the time to make someone smile today, as he always did, each and every day.

Today, to also mark this one-year anniversary of their coach’s passing, Sam Atkins and Curt Mcleod invite the community to visit Sawyer Field at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4 to remember the great man. They remind everyone that this will be a safe place to talk and ask that people bring flowers, a note, a shirt, a good story, or just a listening ear.

Read on:
Honoring Brian Crockett
by Head of School Bob Hill
In Honor of My Man Brian Crockett by Donnie McKillop