“I’ve never met a girl who doesn’t have something to be sorry about,” said Rachel Simmons to her female audience on April 12. “It’s not, ‘people were so mean to me and now I’m so nice.’ No one’s perfect.”
On April 12, Ms. Simmons, a nationally regarded speaker on bullying prevention and female empowerment, spoke to the girls of the Williston Northampton School about how they could identify hurtful behavior, and change the patterns that created it.
The Upper School had divided in two for the special morning assembly. Girls listened to Ms. Simmons in the Phillips Stevens Chapel, while boys headed to the Williston Theatre to hear Dr. Christopher Overtree, director of the Psychological Services Center (PSC) at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an expert on the prevention of bullying and harassment.
Rob Hackenson pulled a ladder out of his bag and began taping pieces of paper to it. “High school” went on one rung, “college” on another, and then “job,” “family,” “retirement,” and “travel.”
It was, he told Williston Northampton students during an assembly on March 29, the general route that each one of them would take during the course of their lives.
“Each and every one of you have certain aspirations and things you want to obtain,” Mr. Hackenson said. “Certain decisions can help you attain them, and certain things can make them much more difficult.”
“Are sports connected to what’s happening in the classroom?” It was their search for the answer to that question that lead Smith College professors Don Siegel and Sam Intrator to found an innovative, Springfield-based program called Project Coach.
In early December, the two professors, plus two others from their program, brought that question to students at The Williston Northampton School.
“There’s a notion that what’s going on in the playing fields connects to what’s going on in other parts of kids’ lives,” Siegel told the students. “The way to the boardroom leads through the locker room.”
The same question could be applied to the class—a new Williston Scholars program called Sports Studies. Created by Diane Williams, a history and global studies teacher, the course features a large slate of visiting speakers and is designed to give students local examples of “sports being used in a meaningful way to impact people’s lives.”
International humanitarian and author John Bul Dau visited The Williston Northampton School on Tuesday, November 8. Mr. Dau addressed the entire student body in the Athletic Center in the morning. Parents and alumni were invited to view his presentation via a live webcast. Following his presentation, Mr. Dau spent time in Williston’s classrooms, meeting with students and participating in class discussions.
In preparation for his visit, many students, including those taking World Civilizations and all Middle School students, read his memoir, God Grew Tired of Us. The book chronicles Dau’s journey as one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan.” He traveled over 1,000 miles by foot, subsisted in the desert, and finally arrived in the United States as a refugee. He has since attended Syracuse University and created the American Care for Sudan Foundation, which has raised more than $170,000 to build a clinic in southern Sudan.