This fall we are celebrating the 95th anniversary of the 1924 founding of Northampton School for Girls, which merged with Williston Academy in 1971. Many Northampton alumnae consider their school a unique, special place. It is harder, with nearly half a century’s perspective, to pin down just what the essence of Northampton School was. But recently a survey of ‘Hamp alumnae came to hand. It comes close. The study was carried out in 1965 and published in their Alumnae News the following year.That report is reproduced here in its entirety, without further commentary. We’ve included a few additional photographs mostly because we like them, and they break up the page. They’re not meant to illustrate any particular narrative. (As always, please click each image to enlarge.)
A new school year is upon us, with all the annual rituals that accompany it: friends to be made, rooms decorated, class schedules to figure out. An essential opening-of-school tradition is our attempt to instill into all our students’ consciousnesses the concept of “A Certain Minimally Consistent Standard of Behavior,” also known as “The Rules.” Yes, friends, this is when Alma Mater actually asserts her rights in loco parentis.
When I began to compile this essay, it occurred to me that it was a great topic for alumni input. A brief and wildly unscientific sampling of Facebook friends elicited many responses, some of which are reproduced here. But Amy Goodwillie Lipkin ’77 noted, “what I thought was ridiculous in my mind as a 16-year-old, I may not see as ridiculous now as an adult.” It’s a good point, one with which most parents or deans, if not every teenager, might concur. On the other hand, alumni recollections suggest that sometimes, even after many years, passions, or at least the memories of outrage, run high. It is also a reminder of the essential conflict between common sense and regulatory detail. Even today, the idea of having, say, a simple conceptual dress code of “neat, clean, and appropriate” is utterly impractical in a community of approximately 700 students and adults, who will voice as many opinions over exactly what that means.
Northampton School for Girls founders Sarah Whitaker and Dorothy Bement sent annual Christmas cards, usually featuring the work of Northampton photographer Eric Stahlberg, whose many images of the campus often had a silvery, soft-focus quality. (Mr. Stahlberg will be the subject of a future post.) The line art is much in keeping with the popular taste of the time.
Happy holidays from the Williston Northampton Archives!
Presented at an all-school assembly, October 11, 2011 by Richard Teller ’70, Archivist
(Note: Annually, and occasionally more often, Williston Northampton students hear a presentation about our shared history. Campus tradition has named this event “The Button Speech,” even though the subject matter rarely concerns Emily and Samuel Williston and the buttons. Here is the 2011 Button Speech, presented with the caveat that it was intended to be read aloud to a captive audience of teenagers at an early hour.)
(Another note, June 24, 2017: A while ago it became necessary to take this post down for some minor editing. This left the blog without a summary history of Northampton School for Girls. Thus, the text has now been restored to the blog with only minor changes from 2011.)
Good morning. We are at a milestone in school history this fall. The Williston Northampton School is 40 years old.
“Wait a minute,” you say. “This year I actually paid attention at Convocation, and Mr. Hill definitely said it was our 171st year. And what’s all that 1841 stuff about?” And you are absolutely right. Except that was a school with a different name: Williston Seminary. Although it’s the same school. Kind of.