Tag Archives: community life

A Pivotal Moment: Dr. Duane Jackson on Meeting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. Duane Jackson was 17 when he met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the first time. On Monday, in commemoration of the minister and his works, Jackson recalled that day for the assembled student body of The Williston Northampton School.

“You will have three, four, maybe five pivotal points in your life,” Jackson told the students.  “Meeting Dr. King was a pivotal point for me.”

Check out photos of Jackson’s visit on Flickr.

Jackson’s keynote was the highlight of events designed to celebrate the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the diversity that his efforts inspired. Other events included a Friday-night lecture on cultural diversity with four members of the Williston community.

While he would begin the day describing de facto segregation, 1960s sit-ins, and racism, by mid-afternoon, Jackson would be deep in discussion about the mating habits of lightening bugs and defensive strategies of butterflies.

Jackson, an associate professor of psychology at Morehouse College, took it all in stride, switching easily from anecdotes about meeting Dr. King, to his research in animal behavior. As Jackson quipped during assembly, “I don’t need notes because I’m talking from life experiences.”

In his keynote, Jackson took his audience back to the deep south of the 1960s and what he called the “Cotton Curtain”—the racial equivalent to the Iron Curtain of communism.

“You would look on TV and see dogs and water hoses” being turned on protesters, Jackson said.

Jackson, who had been born and raised in Chicago, said that he had initially had big plans to attend either the University of California, Los Angeles, or the University of Hawaii.

When his father pushed his alma mater of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, 17-year-old Jackson resisted. The two visited the College and neighboring area, but Jackson still refused.

Finally, in a last-ditch attempt, the elder Jackson took his son to the lobby of an Atlanta office building.

“I went in a room, and there was a man standing at the window. He turned…and it was Martin Luther King,” Jackson said. “He said, ‘What’s wrong with you? I graduated from Morehouse. My father graduated from Morehouse. Your father graduated from Morehouse. Are you too good to go to Morehouse?’

“I didn’t say anything,” Jackson told the Williston Northampton audience. “He said,
‘What are you going to do?’ I said, ‘I’m going to Morehouse.’”

Jackson would meet King again during a protest march in Atlanta when the minister stepped in to prevent supporters and rally opponents from coming to blows.

Jackson urged the Williston Northampton students to use the King’s model of non-violent action—and incorporate modern tools such as cell phones and Twitter—to make their own positive changes.

“It was amazing that we were able to organize and we didn’t have cell phones, we didn’t have Twitter,” Jackson said. “If we had the technology you all have…I don’t know. It might have been much faster.”

Dr. Duane Jackson of Morehouse College talks with students at The Williston Northampton School
In the afternoon, Jackson stopped by the Williston Northampton Middle School to talk about African-Americans contributions to science. The seventh- and eighth-graders listened carefully to his description of the contributions of George Washington Carver, Charles Turner, and Earnest Just.

Jackson concluded the talk with a few quirky facts on insect behavior and hands shot into the air.

“Can fireflies bite?” asked one girl. “Have you ever eaten any bugs?” asked a boy. “What is the firefly glow made of?” asked another boy.

The answers came just as quickly: no, their mouths are too small; yes, lemon ants which taste like lemon drops; it’s made of two chemicals that mix to form bioluminescence.

When a student then asked why he studied insects—rather than animals or birds—Jackson paused.

“Insects were just a hobby, but the hobby grew into something,” he said. “Things don’t always happen the way you think they will. Things just happen.”

Students Are Sending Holiday Cheer to American Troops

In the midst of homework, tests, papers, and the usual rush of the holidays, it is easy to lose sight of the larger world and those who are far from home. But Madeleine “Maddy” Stern ’14 (Northampton, MA) and Bennett “Ben” Wheeler ’14 (Longmeadow, MA), both class officers, made time to remember American troops unable to be home for the holidays.

Maddy and Ben are organizing an effort to send over 400 holiday cards to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Students at the school have undertaken an effort like this in the past, and Maddy and Ben decided it was time to revive the tradition. Maddy said, “We thought this was a great idea, especially at the holidays.”

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Christmas Vespers at Williston

20091213 Norton 087smallSunday, December 11, 7:00 p.m.
Phillips Stevens Chapel, 45 Park Street, Easthampton

Please join in an evening of music, celebration, and sharing. Following the concert, Head of School Robert W. Hill III and Kathryn Hill P’15 welcome you to their home at 37 Park Street for cookies and hot chocolate.

Vespers has been a tradition at The Williston Northampton School since 1972, the year following the merger of Northampton School for Girls with Williston Academy. The service, part of the Cultural Identity Series, includes singing by the Vespers Choir interspersed with scriptural readings and sharing of personal stories. The choir, led by Assistant Choral Director Catherine Kay, will lead the congregation in singing the following carols, selected by Ms. Kay to represent the Advent and Christmas experience, moving from expectation, waiting, and darkness, through the story of the nativity, and into light, brightness and celebration.

• “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”
• “Silent Night”
• Angels We Have Heard on High
• “Joy to the World”

The service will feature seasonal readings. The Vespers Choir, gathered from all parts of the Williston community, will also sing an arrangement of the African American spiritual, “Go Tell It On the Mountain.”

While celebrating the nativity, Vespers is also an occasion that honors joy, peace, and goodwill. All are welcome.

Fall Choral Concert Highlights the Week in Arts

It was a busy one for the arts at The Williston Northampton School.

The Fall Art and Music Intensives produced an exhibition to show off their wide-ranging and exceptional talents on Monday, November 14, in the Dodge Room in the Reed Campus Center. The exhibition features paintings, drawings, paper cut-outs, metal work, films, and music pieces.

On Tuesday, November 15, the Fall Choral Concert took place in the Phillips Stevens Chapel beginning at 7:30 p.m. Families around the globe watched the performance via a live webcast.  The concert featured a special showcase of three pieces by Eleanor Daley, one of Canada’s most successful and gifted composers of choral music. The Teller Chorus, the Widdigers, and the Caterwaulers sang pieces by Stephen Foster, Bill Withers, Crosby Stills and Nash, Boyz II Men, The Doobie Brothers, Aloe Blacc, Chris Isaak, and The Beatles.  You can watch the concert online on the school’s site or on Williston Northampton’s YouTube channel.

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Campus Suffers Power Outage: Information Update

October 28, 2011:

Due to yesterday’s storm, our campus is currently without power. Classes in both the Upper and Middle Schools are cancelled for tomorrow and employees are asked to stay home, unless they are Physical Plant, Dining Services, or Security personnel and are scheduled and able to work. Any parent of a boarding student who has not yet returned to campus is asked to please keep their child at home. Boarding parents who wish to come to campus to pick up their child may do so with dean’s permission, which can be obtained by calling 413-527-1523. Please monitor this website for further updates.