A site for all Williston Northampton speeches and reflections.

Williston Northampton Today

Presented by Head of School Robert W. Hill III in the Williston Theatre on June 9, 2012 during Reunion.

Before I begin, I’d like to give a warm welcome to all alumni: NSFG alumni, Williston alumni, and of course, Williston Northampton School alumni.  As I was considering remarks for today, I was thinking about how schools change, but also how they stay the same.  Emblematic of this duality is the ceremony that we will hold later this afternoon; the dedication of the newly installed Angelus on the terrace behind 194 Main Street.

The Angelus was the bell which called NSFG students to a moment of daily reflection, a practice that we have memorialized and adapted to Williston Northampton’s convocation and commencement exercises. I invite all of you who are interested in this NSFG symbol to come to the dedication at 4 pm.

Being head of school in the 21st century presents some unique challenges relative to other distinct periods of recent history. While we can look to the past for direction, it also appears that we are in a period of flux every bit as dramatic as that of the late 1960s and early 1970s when we experienced landscape-shifting changes. It is not a surprise to me, looking back as a quasi-historian, that coeducation for schools and colleges took hold during the social upheavals of the Vietnam era.

Continue reading

Cultural Identity Speech

Presented during a Cultural Identity Event on February 9, 2012 in Williston Northampton School’s Cox Room.

By Yoonji Kim ’15

I have had many valuable experiences throughout my fourteen years of life. Because I love to travel, I’ve been to distant countries that most children my age do not desire to visit.

My trip to India stands out in my memory. I went to India with my mother when I was in the fifth grade. At that time, I had never experienced or known about people in need. I merely thought that, in India, a lot of conflict occurred because of religious tension with Pakistan. When I first arrived in India, the noxious smell of the river and streets was overwhelming. Therefore, due to the poor environment, I thought a lot of children didn’t have a proper education.

After I visited an Indian school, my thoughts totally changed. Despite the steamy, hot weather, students were studying on the floor without any desks or fans. Children ranging from ages five to fifteen were studying math together in a dingy classroom. Even more surprising was the fact that no one was complaining about his or her environment. From their eyes, which gleamed with the joy of learning, I could feel that they were hungry for knowledge.

Because of this experience, I realized two things. First, we can experience happiness because of our circumstances. Second, we can also find joy within ourselves. This means that not only the things around us bring happiness and satisfaction, but also simply our choice to be happy can give us great pleasure. Due to these reasons, my trip to India was the turning point of my life.


Commencement Address by Joanna Lau P’13

Thank you Bob, Board of Trustees, faculty and staff for the invitation to take part in today’s celebration.  I am deeply honored and thrilled for the opportunity to address the Class of 2012, accompanied by family and friends.

When I received the invitation from the Head of School Bob Hill.  I said “yes” without hesitation.  I have deep respect for this institution, not to mention my daughter is now a senior here. Like most parents, I have visited the Williston community many times, observed student-teacher interaction in class, attended competitive sporting events and been mesmerized by many thespian productions.  Cafeteria food also brought back memories.

There is no better way to describe Williston than the way Steve Porter, Class of ’97, did.  His production “Williston Is,” featuring the Willistonians, describes the spirit, diversity, characters and values of Williston.  Friends and family, if you haven’t seen the video, do check it out on YouTube or the Williston website.  It will make you proud, it will assure you that our future is in good hands.

Continue reading

Baccalaureate 2012

Baccalaureate Speech on June 1, 2012 by Glenn Swanson

We gather here this evening to participate in a traditional ceremony that dates to the Middle Ages when institutions were formed to pursue academic learning under the guidance of the Christian church in Europe. It was called a Baccalaureate Service. Tomorrow we have what we have traditionally called a Commencement. Many of us who work in schools are fascinated, to varying degrees, with words. Commencement, meaning a beginning, is actually our closing ceremony, but seniors– you understand even now that while it will be an ending of this segment of your life it is merely a transition to a new segment. It is more of a joyous occasion, a celebration with speeches, diplomas, hugs and tears that all signify a good-bye.

But tonight is really a solemn occasion, a reflection on the past, befitting the end of one era and the realization that tomorrow is really appropriately a commencement of a new era.  These two events are bookends of a very brief period of time, perhaps 16 hours, but there is certainly at least one more bookend on the beginning of this shelf of experiences, whether you started as a 7th grader or a 12th grader. A few of you seniors, but also including most others in the audience, and my colleagues in attendance, have already had a commencement at the end of your high school career, but I think you will find, if not now then later, that this one will have at least as much meaning as the previous one.

Continue reading

Academic Award Ceremony

Award Ceremony Welcome by Bob Hill on May 29, 2012.

Good evening Williston Northampton School and welcome to the annual Academic Awards Ceremony. As I was thinking about this evening, my first thoughts turned to the weather and the August heat we are having in May, but that only makes sense given that our January snow storm fell on Halloween. (Please take your jackets off if you have not done so already.)

Next, I was thinking of all of the talent, spirit, and determination arrayed before me and was pondering the number of projects, papers, recitals, home work assignments, and labs that are represented by all of you sitting here.

I was thinking it would interesting to try and total that amount of work—like the cool “by the numbers” section at the beginning of Time Magazine: average number of texts made by teens in a day, 111; average number of times students make an excuse for late work; number of times that excuse is that your computer ate the paper.

Students and teachers working together and inspiring one another is what makes Williston’s experience so transformative—and it is an experience that should not be taken for granted when you consider how lucky we are to be here together.

You students work incredibly hard to achieve illustrious results, and so do your teachers. Consider this: a typical teacher at Williston who teaches four classes spends 23,380 minutes in class each year. Multiply that by the average number of students and you get 1,356,040 contact minutes with students. That’s a big number.

As we begin this evening’s program I want to thank all of you students for striving to reach your full potential, and I want to publicly thank Mr. Tuleja, Mr. Ketcham, and Mrs. McMullen for organizing this program. Mrs. McMullen painstakingly wrapped the over 100 prizes you see here.

A site for all Williston Northampton speeches and reflections.