A site for all Williston Northampton speeches and reflections.

Baccalaureate Poem: Remembering Not to Forget

Delivered at Baccalaureate Service, Williston Northampton School
May 28, 2016
By Sideya Dill ’16


Like a vapor in the wind

Or the falling of a leaf

Like snow hitting your skin

So many moments are so brief

Some would say it felt like it all started an eternity ago

Some would say it feels like it all started yesterday

Some would say that time here has gone by so slow

But it all went too fast is what others would say.

But here we are about to transition out of this phase of our lives

Here we are trying to figure out what comes next

Trying to piece together how to keep these Williston memories alive

Trying to remember not to forget.

There was that time skated on or swam in the pond

That time we got kicked out of the library

That time we got an email and decided not to respond

And that time that we had too many packages to carry.

When we nailed it in the dance concert

When we painted something beautiful

When the dining hall had that good dessert

Or that thing that time that wasn’t really chewable.

Having gone to our favorite classes

Or having gave the victory bell a ring

In the winter, having smelled the molasses

Or relaxed on the quad in the beautiful spring.

Beating Suffield or really any other school

Hanging with our best friends every day

Going to get mount toms ice cream to keep cool

Or hiking out to Galbraith because we had games to play.

Having fun going to Willy Gras each spring

Heading to the theater to watch a production

Going to assembly and being forced to sing

Playing games on the surface then realizing you missed the instruction.

Being excited and somewhat sad on Senior days

Sitting in the dining hall too long on weekend nights

Clearing the boards to put up new art displays

Or getting ready to play on Sawyer under the lights.

Doing fun things or sleeping on the weekends

Parking in the day student lot

Filling out white sheets to go off with friends

Or running to check in because you forgot!

Acing that test you studied hard for

Making honors and feeling proud

Painting the lion a whole new color

Or winning big in front of a Williston crowd.

So slow down and take time to fill yourself with sweet memories

They say the older you get the quicker time will pass

And if you think that to not be true, you better believe

Because tomorrow we will be the graduating class.

Many of these memories cannot be repeated and this I will bet

So take some time to stop and remember all the things you don’t want to forget.





Head of School Commencement Address 2016

Williston Northampton Commencement
175th Graduation
May 29, 2016

Good morning and welcome to The Williston Northampton School’s 175th Commencement.   Welcome to parents, families, guests, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, and staff.

I want to begin this morning, as we have in the past, by recognizing that this ceremony falls on Memorial Day weekend and so I would ask that we begin with a moment of silent reflection for all those who give their lives in service to our country.

Thank you. And Welcome Classes of 2019, 2018, 2017—having you all here under the tent brings us together as a community one more time and makes sure that important traditions are transmitted from seniors to the classes that follow. And for you Class of 2016, the two weeks of celebration are coming to a close and our attention turns to you.

Yesterday during our Academic Awards Ceremony, I asked the audience to acknowledge Williston’s incredibly dedicated teachers who work so tirelessly and selflessly to help students achieve their goals. Class of 2016, you did not get to where you are today without support, love, and guidance. In that spirit, there are a lot of people at this ceremony just for you–parents, relatives, guardians, and friends. So I ask 2016 that you stand, turn around, and face the audience to show your collective appreciation to those who are here today.

As I look out at the 132 members of the Class of 2016 I know that some of you have been here six years and have literally grown up in front of our eyes–if you don’t believe that, think of, Abbie Foster or Nate Gordon’s pictures in Friday’s athletic awards ceremony.

Others of you, like Matt Folger or Rylee Leonard have been here for one short action packed year of engagement, leaving your mark in the classroom and on the fields. And some of you, like Maddy Scott, really don’t want to leave at all.

But high school years being what they are, and with adult freedom beckoning, I know that some of you have the Vietnam-era protest anthem in mind “We’ve Gotta Get Out of this Place….” And that’s ok too.

Since this is the last time I get to speak to you as a class together, and since Commencement is all about imparting words of wisdom that you forget by the time you get to lunch, I’m going to ask you a question.

Why would you want to leave Williston, seriously? Think about it: No more ECBs or late night Diner runs; no more slices of Antonio’s chicken, bacon, and ranch; no more sightings of Imran hustling late to check in.

Do you really want to leave Williston? Who will instill in you the important life-long value of being part of a team, that when you put on a Williston jersey you represent your school, something bigger than yourself? If you had Mr. Ketcham for AP Biology, what college professor will could inspire you to call exams “opportunities?” Who among you might actually miss the attention you get when Mr. Koritkoski asks you to stop wearing a baseball hat inside school buildings.

Do you really want to leave Williston? What about those times with your best friends, the ones whom you hope to see at reunions just as you observed Williston alumni doing on campus a few weeks ago. Or what about those times in October when you look at the pond and see the foliage reflected back as if in a mirror. Think of all that you are going to be leaving behind.

Now let’s think for a moment about the adult world you are going to enter. This is a world of dissension and name calling. A world where you have to pay your own rent, consider the cost of a gallon of gas before a road trip, take your hat off before you enter your bosses office.

You might not realize this now, sitting here under the big tent, but as soon as you graduate from Williston a quantum change will take place with respect to how those college professors and university administrators perceive you.   They will see you as a full-blown adult, solely responsible for your words and deeds. If you miss class, mom or dad cannot call the deans’ office to get it excused. If you don’t get playing time in a game, no college coach will be speaking to your parents about that. If you mess up, your adviser will not be there for you the same way Ms. Marsland magically seems to appear whenever needed. And you still really want to leave Williston?

But you have to go, and pretty soon. You must leave Williston behind you and that’s as it should be.  This is one of those boundary moments that you learned about in literature or psychology where you cross a threshold and there is no turning back—you all read The Great Gatsby.

And if I were to be really honest right now, we are ready for you to go—we’ve done our job, hopefully really well, of preparing you for all of those challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Our honored speaker is here today from her home in Seattle, Washington, to explain how all of this works. For some of you it will be a straight line, for others a crooked path

Nonie Cream graduated from Williston in 1990, when the first president Bush was in office. She carries a Williston diploma with pride and traces some of her most meaningful life influences to her alma mater and teachers who remain friends to this day. Ms. Cream is an entrepreneur, successful business woman, creative talent, and most importantly a loyal Willy. I won’t spoil too much of her biography for you, but I hope she tells us whether being dubbed a “Fashionista” is a good thing or not. In any event, after a highly successful career with the famous brand Butter London, Ms. Cream launched out on her own—a fiercely independent impulse that she has had her whole life. Please join me in welcoming back, Nonie Cream.

Closing remarks:

This really is a big moment for you the Class of 2016. Not only are you leaving Williston but your setting forth corresponds to a national election—I think even the youngest of you will be able to cast your first vote for President of the United States. Most people, no matter how old recall their high school graduation, and the same can be said for your first presidential vote. You are more than ready to be serious citizens of the world, and I wish to close with a traditional Williston prayer.

Regardless, as you think about your time at Williston, I bet that each of you feels a sense of time’s compression, the compacting that takes place in your mind’s thumb drive as you reflect on the countless events that have happened in your Williston career.

I am equally certain that whether you think of one of your best moments or one of your most challenging, you will recall a teacher figuring prominently in that memory. Yes, Williston is a place defined by 194 Main, or Ford House, or John Wright, or other spaces of significance, but its true essence lies in its people.

Think about it this way: each of you seniors has worked with a teacher, coach, or adviser to achieve conspicuous victories and imperceptible transformations. While it is perhaps easier to recognize and celebrate those larger public events, conversely, it is harder to identify and therefore acknowledge those subtler and maybe even more important moments that have changed you, altered your course, changed the way you think.

Perhaps it was a new way of solving a math problem, or perhaps you broke out of your circle of friends to get to know someone who just might impact your life many years from now. Whatever it might be, I hope that you take reflect on your Williston experience so that it can become a touchstone for you in college and the years beyond.

Living as we do in this digital age, your cell phones or iCloud accounts are probably filled with digital reminders of your time at Williston. You guys are the Snap Chat generation, but sometimes I worry that what should be a direct human interaction has become a digital one. I worry that a string of emoticons takes the place of a good one-on-one conversation. I worry that a quick re-tweet takes the place of thoughtful discourse or deeply held convictions. The way to avoid these de-humanizing tendencies, I would caution you, is to hold onto the things you learned here at Williston. Your teachers have taught you to be independent thinkers, patient problem solvers, unselfish team mates, good citizens who strive to live by our universal values of respect for self and others, responsibility and trust, honesty and integrity.

As I look out at you seniors I cannot help thinking that you are crossing a double thresh hold–your graduation from high school coincides with your ability to vote in your first national election. Both of these are what I like to call boundary moments–

Head of School’s Academic Award Ceremony Speech

Academic Awards Ceremony
Williston Northampton School
May 28, 2016

Head of School Robert W. Hill III

Good afternoon and a special welcome to parents, families, guests, and to all of our students gathered to celebrate the academic accomplishments that are at the heart of all we do. Since Carol Dweck, the Stanford professor, popularized the idea of having a “growth mindset” educators have grabbed onto Dweck’s paradigm. Hard work, persistence, resilience, determination—these are all necessary elements of the life-long pursuit of learning. But don’t be fooled into thinking that they alone will brand you as having a “growth mindset” because in the final analysis, what you accomplish, how you behave, how you treat others, in other words—YOUR DEEDS—will determine whether or not you are a successful lifelong student in pursuit of the ‘growth mindset’ ideal.

Buzzwords, especially those in education, can become overused at best and self-deceiving at worst. The more you claim, for instance, that you have a “growth mindset,” the less you have it. But one of the best aspects of a Williston education is that you are always challenged by your teachers to explain,

demonstrate, prove, and defend your answers. You might find that we hold you to a high standard of intellectual and moral rigor, but if you are not the ones to achieve these ideals, then who? For seniors, about to head off to college campuses around the country, the imperative has never been greater. I might argue, but for another day, that the challenges that you will face on college campuses are of a magnitude that we’ve not seen since the tumult of the Vietnam era.

But here we are this afternoon, nearing the close of Williston’s historic 175th anniversary year—and we have been watching and celebrating student accomplishments in earnest for the past two weeks. The Williston Scholars presentations, like Maggie White’s research on national parks, revealed how you kids are as expert in your knowledge as any college student; we applauded crazy individual and team athletic accomplishments just yesterday, and I have to wonder if we will ever have kids play on not one but two championship teams in one year, like Delaney and Morgan did as varsity field hockey players who also competed on the first ever championship softball team this spring. We have recently witnessed our instrumental and choral music performers as well as been treated to the work of our visual artists, dancers, and actors— and the level of talent we saw was nothing short of astonishing—some of you may have wondered, as I did, while Verdi performed in “In the Heights,” if we were watching the next Lin Manuel [Man-Well] Miranda.

Before we recognize all of the incredible academic accomplishments of our students, however, I want to acknowledge our teachers who have worked so tirelessly to help each student achieve personal bests.

Please join me in a deserved round of applause

Williston’s teachers will go to any length to advise, mentor, listen, and support their students—I know this because I live with one.

As I emcee today’s ceremony, I ask that you pay attention to the citations that are read and attached to names from Williston’s past. All of you students are part of our 175 years of history, and our traditions matter. It’s wise to remember, that what we celebrate today connects us to Williston’s past.

Commencement Address by Nonie Creme ’90

Nonie Creme ’90/Photo by Joanna Chattman

When I was 15, I ran away from home. Now, as you’ll get to know, when I decide to do something, I do not mess around, which is why our story begins in a Santa Fe jail cell. Turns out it’s illegal to be a minor on the run 900 miles from home.

It was around this time my folks said to me, “You seem like a decent kid, but this whole ‘living at home’ thing just isn’t working out,” and so “I” (and by that, I mean “they”) started looking at boarding schools. I mean, between boarding school and jail, it was kind of a no-brainer…

Frankly, I was a really messed up teenager. I had a total inability to control my emotions, and ZERO ability to censor, which got me into plenty of trouble. I just felt really, really angry almost all of the time. I hated my body, I hated my family, I hated my own insecurity, and the mere whiff of any form of authority sent me into a core meltdown. Off the record, I will admit that authority is something I still really struggle with….  Which is why I start companies and work for myself.

Anyway, the main criteria for my boarding school choices, was that they had to be FAR, FAR AWAY. That was about it. For me, looking at schools was scary and upsetting. I wasn’t going by choice, I felt alone, and as though I was drifting, aimless, and unwanted. I was 16.

When I came for my Williston interview, I was SO intimidated. Everyone on campus looked so grown up and sophisticated. I felt like a Southern yokel in mom jeans and a sweater from The Limited — which you are too young to know about, but trust me — it’s bad. I had never really left home before, (apart from all the running away of course…), but I was beginning to realize that there was a BIG difference between Texas and Massachusetts, and I wanted in. The deal was sealed when a really hot junior guy gave me my tour, and I was like “Mom, I’m going HERE”.

Thankfully, Williston felt the same. I’ll be honest here — my grades were NOT impressive, and it was probably a pretty close call, but what sticks with me, is that Williston recognized a kid with potential. It was no secret that I came with baggage, but Williston was ready to give me a nurturing, attentive home when my own home wasn’t viable, and that is where this story truly begins.

Like I said, I had never left home before, and let me tell you —I didn’t know it at the time, but I was a spoiled brat, which became pretty clear when I was informed that there was, in fact, not a maid service, and I would be washing my own clothes. I had never even touched a washing machine before. I felt like an idiot. Too proud to ask for help, I decided that the best course of action was to hide my dirty clothes in my bed, under the fitted sheet. (and yes, this is a totally true story) Slowly, I ran out of clothes. Underwear became a distant memory. I was panic stricken, when, at last, my roommate noted that my bed was a full foot taller than hers and STUNK.

And so, eating a big slice of humble pie, I finally asked my dorm dad, Mr. Tulejah, to show me how those mysterious machines in the basement worked. It sounds silly, but that small step toward independence set me on a course that undeniably helped begin my healing and growing process.

I’ll take a brief break from memory lane here, and tell you who I am now, so that you don’t call security and have me removed.

I have since helped start two beauty companies, one called Butter London, and the other, Colour Prevails, and I consult globally for every company you’ve ever bought a nail polish, lipstick, or mascara from. So, did I leave Williston and go to Columbia? Attend Harvard Business School? Nope. I just learnt some crucial lessons here that helped me not only get IN to college, but also helped me understand that a meaningful educational journey is based on more than just good grades.

I started my first ever beauty business as a penniless illegal alien in London. Why was I in London? Well, because I followed a British boy home and he was going to be a rock star, so clearly, I was never going to have to do anything as pedestrian as get a job. When rock-stardom eluded us, I would stand outside the subway station in the Financial District every morning with a basket full of nail supplies and hand out little scraps of paper with my number on them. By lunchtime, I’d be fully booked going from office to office doing desk-side manicures for the fancy businesswomen. Now, I couldn’t have known that filing nails for ten pounds would eventually lead to a 20 million dollar nail polish company, but the important take away is this:

FIGURE SHIT OUT. Don’t just stand there wringing your hands when life doesn’t throw a 4.0 at you. Plot a course, be brave, and put one foot in front of the other. That’s it. You don’t have to be the smartest, you don’t have to be the prettiest, you don’t need over 10k followers. You don’t have to know what you’ll be doing in five years, just know what you are doing today. Oh yeah, for those of you ignoring this speech and playing on your Iphone my Insta handle is @noniecreme

Eventually, I got so good at doing nails that a top London agent picked me up, and started sending me out to do nails for Vogue cover stories, London and New York Fashion Week, and people like Rihanna, Naomi Campbell, and Kate Moss. It’s worth noting that a manicure at Kate Moss’s house can take three days of your life, and you won’t remember anything when you get home. Which is probably for the best. Anyway, I used to hand-mix all of my polishes, and they became a sort of cult thing that everyone in London wanted.

I knew I needed a nail polish company to sell this stuff, but like I said, I have no business degree, and had NO IDEA how to raise money or start a company. And then I met a girl about my age, who DID have a business degree, and DID know how to do those things. The only problem was that she lived in Seattle, and I lived in London. We agreed to share the company, and shoot for the stars. Our first office was her kitchen, and I created the Butter London polish range with $5,000 and a whole lot of hand mixing. I left everything to do this. I left my amazing job — that I had created all by myself, I left my beautiful London apartment, and most importantly, I left my British husband IN the apartment when I left, and we were long distance for TWO YEARS after.

(Oh yeah, I married the rock star skater kid. Partially because I loved him, and partially because I was still really pissed at my parents)

If you want to do great things with your life, you better be prepared to take some very real risks. Even today, any of my projects or companies could go down at any moment, and I’ve crashed and burned as many times as I’ve succeeded. Trying things is scary. You may go broke a couple of times. Check. You may fail publicly. Check. You may have your doctor tell you that your endocrine system is collapsing from chronic stress and fatigue. Double check. But then you have a hit. You create a company or product that takes off, and the money pours in, and you get to be a rock star after all. Man, that’s a feeling that’s just indescribable for a kid that grew up thinking she was a loser and a no-hoper.

When I gave the commencement speech at my college, Scripps College, last year, and I opened by stating that I was probably the first straight C student to ever give the Commencement Address, so let me go all in here at Williston, and tell you that I was lucky if I ever made a C here.

But don’t think for one SECOND that I wasn’t learning. Grades are based on a series of tests that are meant to gauge academic progress. What they don’t gauge is personal growth. Only you know how smart you really are, and only you can choose to use that intellect to succeed. Make good grades or don’t, but PLEASE, I beg you, graduate!!!!

PS: It turns out that I’m super-duper smart, and I’m able to operate in the business realm with NO business degree, and NO prior experience. Just a big mouth and a great education that taught me SO MUCH despite my many efforts to fail. So, if you didn’t get into the college you wanted, or you’re scared you won’t, please know that you can still be the next Steve Jobs (Don’t drop out!), or Estée Lauder, or Donald Trump — OK, I’m totally kidding. I strictly forbid you from becoming the next Donald Trump.

Boarding school is a unique experience. People who don’t go to boarding school can never really understand what it’s like. You are forced to be an adult from a really young age. You have to manage situations where there would normally be an adult mediator, and you have to figure them out, in order to keep the peace. When I was living in Willy, I was a chubby Goth kid. I listened to Dag Nasty and Suicidal Tendencies — thank you Pat Burns — and pierced my own ears weekly until there was no lobe left to pierce.

Friendships saved my life. I came to Williston from a classic Southern day school where jocks and cheerleaders ruled, and anyone different got shut out.

One of my best friends at Williston was a dude, a soccer jock named Ashley, who wore head to toe LL Bean and although we had ZERO in common from a style standpoint, we loved and accepted each other completely. Everyone here did. Dee Griffin is still one of my best friends, and all I can say is that even as adult, she overlooks my Mohawk and the many bikers I bring to her NYC home and THANK GOD her fiancé is a detective on NYPD’s finest, because, damn it all, bikers just love to get arrested.

But don’t take my word for it — my Willy tribe are all right here, right now, today, because first of all, YOU are my tribe, and whether you like it or not, you are stuck with me now. And also because several of my 40-something year old gang got on planes, trains, and automobiles to come and be with me here today as I give this speech — 25 years after our commencement.

Now THAT is what I call showing up Williston style!!!!

It’s important in high school and college to try stuff. That’s why you are here. It’s absolutely acceptable to be a punk one semester and a Prep the next. To try lacrosse one season, and then switch to advanced cigarette smoking (I was the captain of that team) Exploring different parts of your personality will be an asset when you are out in the real world. Do you know what WON’T be an asset when you are out in the real world? A neck tattoo. Now there’s a really bad idea.

As a silver haired Rick-Owens-wearing 44-year-old mom, who lives with a Grateful Dead tattoo on her ass, and a piece of 1990s tribal work across her skull, I can tell you I’m right on this one. In fact, I will give you a million bucks if you can call me up at 40 and tell me you love the tattoo you got at Off The Map. Pierce whatever you want — holes heal. And no, you can’t just get tattoos removed. My Dead Head tramp stamp now looks like someone wiped it with Windex. “Removal” made that thing BIGGER, not smaller — how is that even possible?

Williston would not give up on me, even when I did. They knew I had smarts and knew I could make it, if I could just stay out of my own way long enough. They had to invent an entirely new level of triple-secret-last-chance-for-real-this-time probation for me when I went here, and there weren’t enough clipboards in the world to dissuade me from floating kegs down the Manhan — which may be why they filled it in. Sorry.

Every time I messed up, or self destructed, the Williston Administration would firmly, but kindly, step in, and remind me that I would not be happy if I got sent home. My home was here, and here is where I was kept safe and allowed to make mistakes in a controlled environment, so that I could learn from them and mature.

We were a sort of self-governing group of teens. We had eachothers’ backs, but when someone was acting like a jerk, they got schooled. Our dorm parents and the Admin were there to oversee, but most of my social skills and a lot of my business acumen were born after hours at Willy, or, let’s be honest, Ford, since that’s where I actually slept most of the time — where nightly forums on ALL subjects guided us toward adulthood.

Those are skills that I have to use every day in my business now. Don’t believe me? Then YOU try to tell Anna Wintour that yes, this is your natural hair colour, and oh by the way, you forgot the custom mixed nail polish you made for her. Then run.

I retain more friendships from Williston than from any other period in my life and I’ve lived, people. That’s proof of how critical this place is, and how critical these relationships are to you at this stage of your life. There are limited “grown ups” here, and although the ones that are here are awesome, it’s YOU who are raising each other, and YOU are doing a really fucking good job.

Go to college. Study all sorts of stuff, not just the stuff you think will land you the best employment. Remember that being an artist and being a business leader are NOT mutually exclusive. And above all, remember to trust yourself, because you are the most important person you know.

It’s not lost on me that there are many people out there who might say a woman who won’t dye her hair and wears a skinhead and a septum ring doesn’t belong in the beauty industry, and certainly couldn’t be the meaningful Founder of a multi-million dollar business.

Well, because of the love and support I received right here, at Williston, I have the confidence to say “Screw you, I can do anything I want.” And so can you, and so WILL you.

Congratulations Class of 2016! Go kick some ass.

For purposes of clarification, Butter London was founded in 2005 in Seattle WA. Nonie Creme came to the company several months later as Founding Creative Director, creating the now-famous nail lacquer line, and helping grow Butter London into a global entity.

Athletic Awards for Winter 2016

On Wednesday, March 23, Director of Athletics Mark Conroy held the annual winter athletic assembly to recognize the outstanding athletic achievements from this past season. Williston’s athletic teams had a very successful winter that included setting new records, winning multiple championships, and having a great deal of fun in the process. Read the full transcript of his presentation below.

Good morning Williston!

I hope everyone is back in the swing of things.  I wanted to take an opportunity this morning to reflect back on our winter athletic program by sharing a few highlights of each team and recognizing award winners.  Knowing that numbers can tell a story….I wanted to start by sharing just a few numbers relevant to our winter season.
– This winter, Williston was represented by 321 students coached by 37 coaches on 22 different teams.
– All told, our winter teams represented Williston in 311 contests with 56 different schools in 5 states this winter.

I think these numbers give you a little sense of the scale of our progam….

Let me get underway and share a few highlights of each of our team’s seasons:

This winter a handful of students participated in our Riding program at Fuller Horse Farm in nearby Westhampton.   According to Coach Laura Etzel these students worked very hard to improve their jumping skills – this was new for all of them.  By the end of the season, each rider was able to execute a course with 7 jumps – a wonderful accomplishment.

I would like to recognize those students who won awards this winter in the riding program.   Could I ask these students to stand when I read their names.  We will applaud them as a group at the end:

Most Improvement in Riding: Villard Xu ‘18
Most Improvement in Horsemanship: Momoka Oda ‘18
Sportsmanship Award (Helping Hands Award): Corrine Gawle ‘20
Most Valuable Rider for best all-around horsemanship: Aileen Alden ‘18

Boys Squash
-All three boys squash teams enjoyed competitive seasons.    Under Coach Simpson, the Thirds team demonstrated great improvement highlighted by an exciting 6-3 victory over Eaglebrook.   Coach Chiavaroli’s JV team also demonstrated great improvement highlighted by a 5-2 victory over Suffield and season ending wins over KO and Albany Academy.
-Under Coach Ryan Tyree, the Boys Varsity Squash team had an exciting season with a mixture of returning veterans and new faces.  Led by dedicated captains Phillip Lee and Kevin Li, the team demonstrated steady improvement and resilience throughout the season.   Highlights of their season included avenging an early season 5-2 road loss to Berkshire with a thrilling 4-3 victory at home – Kevin and Phil had big victories along with underclassmen Joe Shively and Henry Poehlein.    Another season highlight took place during the final match of the winter when the boys won another gutty 4-3 victory over a tough squad from Kingswood Oxford.   As a promising sign for the future, all four wins that day were by underclassmen.   The key match was won by junior Zack Robbins who was down 7-9 in the deciding tie breaking 5th set before rallying to a thrilling victory.

-I would like to ask the individual award winners within the program to stand and be recognized.  PLEASE HOLD YOUR APPLAUSE UNTIL THE END:

Co-Ed Thirds:
Most Valuable Player Award: Oscar DeFrancis ‘20
Most Improved Player Award: Ruby McElhone Yates ’21, Akivah Mazile ‘20
Sportsmanship Award – Ava Greenbaum ‘21

Most Valuable Player Award – Nitish Athavan Raja ‘18
Most Improved Player Award – Joey Robbins ‘19
Sportsmanship Award – Aiden McCreary ‘19

Most Valuable Player Award – Kevin Li ’16 – second year in a row
Most Improved Player Award – Henry Poehlein ‘18
Sportsmanship Award –Phillip Lee ‘16
Captain for next year – Henry Poehlein ‘18

Girls Squash
-The girls squash program enjoyed another successful winter season under the leadership of Varsity coach Peter Gunn and JV coach Adeleen Brown.
– The Varsity team enjoyed great team unity as they competed hard throughout the season finishing with a record of 6-8.  Among the many highlights of the season were thrilling 4-3 wins over both Berkshire and Suffield for the first time in five years!   The team was led by an exceptional group of seniors including captains Caroline Borden, Sophia Triana and Genna Koumentakos.  Senior Kira Wilson had a particularly strong season with a 9-0 record until a season ending shoulder injury.  At the NEPSAC Class C championships held at St. Paul’s in New Hampshire, the team enjoyed a terrific season ending performance finishing in second place.   Senior Julie Lord led Williston with a 1st place finish in the 5th flight, senior Danielle Grant stepped up in for the injured Kira and placed 3rd in the 6th flight and sophomore Mika Sovjani came in 2nd in the 7th flight.  Lindsay Whipple and Genna also played well in the 2nd and 4th flights.   Due to their commitment to the concert on Friday, Caroline and Sofia were ineligible for the championship, but each played very well on Saturday with Caroline winning her last match to finish 7th and Sofia going undefeated to earn 5th place.
-In addition to their runner-up performance, the team received a wonderful honor at the end of the tournament when they were presented with the Sportsmanship Award for the second consecutive year.  This speaks volumes about not only the competitive spirit of this team but also its ability to be great representatives of the school.   Congratulations Girls!


-I would like to ask the individual award winners within this program to stand and be recognized:

Most Valuable Player Award – Chloe Lee ‘17
Most Improved Player Award – Atah Okaisabor ‘18
Sportsmanship Award – Ellie Scott ‘18

Most Valuable Player Award – Caroline Borden ’16 – second year in a row
Most Improved Player Award – Julie Lord ‘16
Sportsmanship Award – Sophia Triana ‘16
Next year’s captain will be Mika Sovjani ’17 and Lindsay Whipple ‘17.

Ski Teams:
Led by Coaches Hing, Eberle, and Pelliccia, our ski teams enjoyed successful seasons competing in the Mountain Institute League.  Despite the impact of our very mild winter, the team enjoyed a great deal of success during the weekly Wednesday races held at Berkshire East.    The season culminated with the New England Class B championships held at Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire.  Both of our teams competed well with the other 14 competing schools.  Unfortunately, the girls lost their top performer prior to the meet when sophomore captain Sophie Carrellas was injured.  Sophie was having an outstanding season dominating the league races with first place finishes.  The girls finished in 8th place at the championships.

The boys’ team also had a successful day defending its NEPSAC title from 2015.   In the Giant Slalom, there were 57 competitors representing the competing schools.   Our top performers were senior captain JJ Celentano who finished in 20th and junior Devin DeVerry.  Devin was second after the first run before clipping a gate in his second run to fall back to 10th.   In the Slalom competition, sophomore Oliver Lawrence finished in 16th while Devin rebounded from his near miss in the GS to finish in first place to become our first NEPSAC individual champion in many years.  Could I ask Devin to please stand so we can recognize this great accomplishment?!

-I would like to ask the individual award winners within the program to stand and remain standing after I read their names.  We will applaud them as a group at the end.

JV Boys:
Most Valuable Skier Award – Adam Johnsrud ‘20
Most Improved Skier Award – Ben Robes-Kenworthy ‘20
Sportsmanship Award – Matt Seltzer ‘20

Varsity Girls:
Most Valuable Skier Award – Sophie Carellas ’18 (second year in a row)
Most Improved Skier Award – Molly Solan ‘19
Sportsmanship Award – Lizzy Warncke ‘16
Captain for next year will be Sophie Carellas ’18 again.

Varsity Boys:
Most Valuable Skier Award – Devin DeVerry ’17 (fifth year in a row)
Most Improved Skier Award – Gavin Girardin ‘19
Sportsmanship Award – JJ Celentano ’16
Captain for next year is Devin DeVerry ‘17.

– The next group I would like to recognize this morning is our wrestling program led by Coaches KaneLong, White, and Rivenburgh.
– Despite only being able to fill 9 out of 14 weight classes, the wrestling team had a very good season finishing with a team record of 10-7.  Highlights of their season included victories over rivals Suffield, Pomfret and Wilbraham and Monson.  Undoubtedly, the biggest highlight of the team season took place at home in January when we defeated Tabor Academy in thrilling style with a 39-36 victory – this was our first win over Tabor in the past 16 years.
-Individually speaking, the team had a great deal of success as they had the highest winning percentage in individual matches in the past 16 years winning over 67% of their matches.
-At the Class A League Championships held at Hyde School, a number of boys distinguished themselves: junior Hunter Adams finished in 2nd, sophomore Harrison Winrow in 4th, and senior captain Mikey Lloyd was 5th.   Harrison added to his great day by winning the Most Falls in the Least Time Award by pinning 4 opponents in 3 minutes and 42 seconds combined.  Congratulations Harrison!

– I would like to ask the individual award winners within this program to stand and be recognized:

Most Valuable Wrestler: Sam Canney ‘17
Most Improved Wrestler: William Gunn ‘21
Sportsmanship: Andrew Andrew ‘18

Donald J. Knauf Most Valuable Wrestler Award – Mikey Lloyd ‘16
Most Improved Wrestler Award – Ben Normandin ‘19
Sportsmanship Award – Bina Sweet ‘17
Peter M. Edgerton ’74 Most Pins Award – Hunter Adams ’17 (second year in a row)
The captain of next year’s team will be Bina Sweet ‘17.

Boys Hockey:
– The JV Boys Hockey team, led by Coaches Fay and Demerath, played competitive hockey all winter finishing with a 7-9-2 record.  The team finished its season particularly well by losing only one of its final six games including a season ending 7-6 victory over NMH.  Their one loss was a narrow 4-3 loss to Berkshire, a team they lost to earlier in the season 9-0 – a sign of their terrific improvement!
– Under Coaches Cunha, Hanford, and Lessard, the Varsity Boys Hockey team competed hard all season against its very competitive schedule including 10 of the top 16 teams in NEPSAC.   The team enjoyed several highlights during the season including beating eventual Large School champion Thayer Academy 5-3, sweeping Winchendon in both their contests including a thrilling 7-5 third period comeback on the road, and an exciting 4-3 victory at Millbrook.   The season finished on a high note winning their last two games including a 3-0 shutout at Pomfret behind senior goalie Shane Mason.   Senior Jack Kelly led the team in goals scored for the second year in a row with 16 and Shane carried the load in net logging nearly 1100 minutes while recording a .905 save percentage.  Prospects are bright for next year as the team graduates only six seniors and will benefit from the return of 15 letter winners.

-I would like to ask the individual award winners within the program to stand and remain standing after I read their names.

Most Valuable Player Award – Jacob Zaranek ‘17
Most Improved Player Award – Danny Kissane ‘19
Sportsmanship Award – Cam Ward ‘17

Daniel D. Carpenter Most Valuable Player Award – Shane Mason ‘16
Most Improved Player Award – Sam Milnes ‘18
Sportsmanship Award – Steven Gower ‘17

Girls Basketball:
– This winter was another very successful season for our girls’ basketball program. The JV squad had a competitive season under Coaches Schneider, Garcia, Thompson and Mahoney (big staff! finishing with an 8-11 record.  Highlights included an exciting two point victory over Suffield and winning three of their last four games.
– Varsity Girls Basketball, under Coaches Rodgers and Whipple faced a big rebuilding job after losing a number of four year veterans.   With only three seniors on this year’s roster, the team had a terrific season going toe to toe with the finest teams in Western New England to finish with a 14-7 record.    There were plenty of highlights during the season including finishing runner-up at the Ray Brown tournament in December, a terrific 41-36 comeback victory over Wilbraham and Monson and great road victories over Deerfield and Kent.  Arguably, the biggest highlight took place late in the season when the girls knocked off another strong tournament bound Pomfret squad at home 54-44.   The team’s excellent season earned them a #8 seed in the Class B Tournament where they lost to eventual champion Tilton.
– For their outstanding play during the season, junior Sarah Marion and freshman Sarah Sullivan both were named NEPSAC all stars.

– I would like to ask the individual award winners within the program to stand and remain standing after I read their names.

Most Valuable Player Award – Julia Farnham ‘20
Most Improved Player Award – Isabelle Cheney ‘20
Sportsmanship Award – Erin Daley ‘19, Fuka Iwama ‘18

Most Valuable Player Award – Olivia Bonavita ‘17
Most Improved Player Award – Fiona Bundy ‘17
Sportsmanship Award – Rylee Leonard ‘16

Girls Hockey:
-The JV team, led by Coaches Ward and Valine, enjoyed an excellent season finishing with a 10-3-1 record.   Highlights included shutout victories over Choate and Berkshire and decisive road victories at Hotchkiss and Loomis Chaffee.
-Varsity Girls ice hockey enjoyed another truly remarkable season under the leadership of Coaches Christa TalbotSyfu, Alex Tancrell-Fontaine and Andrew Syfu finishing with an outstanding record of 21 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie.   The team’s 21 wins sets a new school record for the second year in a row improving on last year’s record of 20 wins.    The team was led by a special group of 8 seniors who left their mark at Williston with a combined record the last four years of 71-14-9.   To say that the team played outstanding defense during the regular season would be an understatement as they gave up a total of 16 goals in 24 games if my math is correct that is .66 goals a game!  This stingy defense included 14 shutouts led by senior goaltender Morgan Fisher.    Highlights of their special season included three terrific road wins – beating Westminster at their rink for the first time in 13 years, an exciting 2-1 overtime victory at Choate and a terrific 5-3 victory over an excellent Loomis Chaffee team.  The team also counts amongst its highlights raising $1800 in their Pink in the Rink victory over KUA.   The girls also had a great deal of success in both of their holiday tournaments finishing runner up at the Harrington Tournament and winning the Winchendon Tournament for the second year in a row.   The team’s outstanding regular season earned them the #2 seed in the Division 1 tournament.   In the quarterfinals, the girls beat Milton 3-1 before a heartbreaking loss to Loomis in the semifinals.
-In recognition of their outstanding seasons, seniors Delaney Belinskas, Morgan Fisher and Rachel Rockwell were all named to the prestigious six member All New England First Team.  Fellow senior Meg Rickard earned Second Team honors.   Delaney finished her terrific career at Williston by becoming only the 5th girl in our school’s history to surpass the 100 point milestone.  She finished with 105 points.  I would like to ask Delaney to come forward to accept a small token of this great accomplishment.

– I would like to ask the individual award winners within the JV program to stand and be recognized.

Most Valuable Player Award – Sophia Schaefer ‘18 – second year in a row
Most Improved Player Award – Kira Bixby ‘19
Sportsmanship Award – Morgan Fogleman ’16 – second year in a row

No awards yet since they have not had their Banquet night yet.

Boys Basketball:
– On the lower levels, the JV, 3rds and 4ths teams all competed well throughout their seasons.  The biggest highlights of the Cullen and Ketcham led JV season were back to back wins over Salisbury and MacDuffie.  The Thirds team rebounded from an 0-3 start to finish at 8-4 with thrilling victories over Loomis, Deerfield and Winchendon as highlights.  Coaches Joshua Harper and Bryan Malinowski led the 4ths team to a season for the ages sweeping through its 8 game season undefeated.  Undefeated season are very rare!  Could I ask the Mighty Fourths Basketball team to stand so we can recognize their special season?

– Under the leadership of Coaches Shelton, Garrity and Lapolla, the Varsity Boys’ Basketball team enjoyed another outstanding season with a record of 23-5 including going 17-2 in Class A.  The 23 wins ties the record set last year for the most in school history.  The team played proficient on both ends of the court allowing 48 points a game while scoring an average of 65.   While there were many other great wins during this terrific season, here are a few that stood out: sweeping both Loomis and Deerfield, a thrilling comeback road win at Avon Old Farms, avenging an early season road loss to Andover with a convincing win at home and, of course, sweeping our friendly rival from Suffield, Connecticut in all three of our games.

– The team’s outstanding season earned them the #2 seed in the Class A tournament where it earned the opportunity to host two games here at Williston – in the quarterfinals we beat a tough Hotchkiss squad 57-49 and in the semifinals we beat rival Suffield 62-51.  In a thrilling championship game held at Rhode Island College the boys defeated the top seeded Phillips Exeter Academy 56-53 to repeat as Class A champions.   Senior Jake Ross was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.   Could I ask the team to ALL stand so we can congratulate them on this fantastic season…

Could I also ask the captains of the team to come forward to make a presentation?

For their outstanding play during the season, a number of boys garnered postseason recognition on the All New England Class A team.  Senior Chris Hudson earned Second Team honors while Sam Geschickter made the Third team.  Earning Honorable Mention were fellow seniors Kyle Doucette, Jamaal David, Jake Ross and Matt Folger.

– I would like to ask the individual award winners within the program to stand and be recognized:

Most Valuable Player Award – Chris Barber ‘21
Most Improved Player Award – Isi Donnelly ‘21
Sportsmanship Award – Ethan Nestelbaum ’21, George Spence ‘21

Most Valuable Player Award – Noah Clack ’18
Most Improved Player Award – Adam Johndrow ‘19
Sportsmanship Award – Nick Barber ’19, Jessup Goldberg Cook ‘20

Most Valuable Player Award – Eni Ikuku ‘17
Most Improved Player Award – Zach Bernstein ‘16
Sportsmanship Award – Eric Chen ’16 – second year in a row

Most Valuable Player Award – Chris Hudson ‘16
Most Improved Player Award – Matt Folger ‘16
Sportsmanship Award – Kyle Doucette ‘16

And finally…..

Boys and Girls Swimming and Diving
– The 25 member boys swim team finished their dual meet season with a 6-6 record including impressive wins over NMH, Westminster, and Worcester.   At the NEPSAC Championships, held at Rhode Island College, the boys swam very well finishing in a respectable 5th place.
– A number of boys distinguished themselves with excellent performances at the championships:
– The 400 Freestyle Relay team of Calvin Frye, Jason Albanese, Chris Lansill and David Fitch placed third.
– Senior Calvin Frye placed 3rd in the 100 freestyle and 5th in the 50 freestyle.
– The 200 Freestyle Relay team of Calvin Frye, Mark Wei, Chris Lansill, and David Fitch won a NEPSAC title.  Could I ask these four boys to stand so we can congratulate them on being NEPSAC champions?
– Finally, junior David Fitch finished an outstanding swim season by winning NEPSAC titles in both the 50 Freestyle and the 100 freestyle.   This capped off a spectacular season for David in which he set school records in three events: the 50 freestyle, the 100 freestyle and the 100 butterfly.  The school records he broke in the 50 and 100 were over 30 years old!   David’s time in the 100 freestyle qualifies him for All American consideration.   Could I ask David to come forward so I can present him with this memento of his record setting season?
The Girls Swim team had an exceptionally strong dual meet season finishing with an 8-3 record including convincing wins over NMH, Kingswood Oxford, St. George’s and Kent.  This momentum carried into the postseason as the girls saved their best swims for the biggest meet of the year, the NEPSAC championships, in what Coach K called “an incredible performance”.  Here is a list of the girls who distinguished themselves:
– Junior Emily Yeager finished 3rd in the 100 backstroke.
– Junior Natalie Aquadro finished second in the 100 breaststroke and 3rd in the 200 IM.
– Sophomore Anabelle Farnham placed second in both the 200 freestyle and 100 freestyle.
– The 200 Medley Relay team of Sally Alrutz, Natalie Aquadro, Maya Soley, and Annabelle Farnham became NEPSAC champions when they set a new school and NEPSAC record.  Could I ask these girls to stand so we can congratulate them!!!
– The 400 Freestyle Relay team of Sally Alrutz, Emily Yeager, Natalie Aquadro, and Anabelle Farnham also set a new school record on their way to becoming NEPSAC champions.  Could I ask these girls to stand so we can congratulate them!!!
Additionally, we had three young ladies who won individual titles:
– Sophomore Maya Soley won a NEPSAC title in the 500 freestyle.  Please stand Maya!!!
– Junior diver Gabby Mercier had a tremendous season culminating with a NEPSAC title in the 1-Meter diving event while setting a new school record.  Gabby, would you please come forward so we can recognize your record breaking season?
– And finally….freshman Sally Alrutz won a NEPSAC title in the 100 backstroke, placed 2nd in the 100 butterfly, and led off the 400 freestyle relay breaking a 15 year old record in the 100 freestyle.   Sally also set a school record in the 200 IM at the Bud Erich championships.  Sally, can you please come forward so we can recognize your record breaking season as well?
As I believe you all know now, these terrific performances resulted in our girls team winning the first NEPSAC girls swimming and diving championship in our school’s history!  Could I ask ALL the members of the girls swimming and diving team to stand so we can recognize them?
Could I ask the team captains to come forward to make a presentation?
Award winners and captains will be announced at their upcoming Banquet Night.

While all of this great success is certainly something to be proud of, I remain most proud of the way our teams compete and represent Williston.


A site for all Williston Northampton speeches and reflections.