Williston Graduates 124 Members of the Class of 2017

Senior class president Natalie Aquadro prepares to lead her class beneath the tent for Commencement.

On a cool gray Sunday, as the rain held off, 124 students graduated from the Williston Northampton School during its 176th Commencement exercises. Graduates, their classmates, faculty, families, trustees, and special guests gathered on May 28, 2017, under a white tent on the Quad to celebrate the achievements of the Class of 2017. (See the video here.) (See photos here.)

Head of School Robert W. Hill III presided over the event by comparing graduating high school to a much-watched YouTube video of a sea lion pulling a toddler into the sea (the toddler, and her dad, who rescued her, were fine). (Read his amusing—and poignant—remarks here.) Mr. Hill also introduced his mentor from his Middlebury College days, keynote speaker John McCardell Jr., the vice-chancellor of The University of the South and president emeritus of Middlebury College.

Keynote speaker John M. McCardell Jr.

McCardell, a renowned historian and scholar of the South, delivered an address about how humility and self-restraint help shape good citizens. Read the full address here.

Assistant Head of School Ann Pickrell presented prizes to students for overall distinction. Read more about the prizes and student recipients here. History and Global Studies teacher Peter Gunn announced that a new group of students were inducted into the Cum Laude Society, the independent school equivalent of Phi Beta Kappa. Read about the 13 inductees here.

Senior speaker and recipient of the Archibald V. Galbraith Prize Nicholas Hill delivered an entertaining and moving address that hinged on how Williston encourages students to stretch beyond their comfort zone, by making sure they feel comfortable and welcome. The highlight? Walking, by accident, into a glass wall and being laughed at by Middle Schoolers—and then realizing that he could laugh himself. We expect to post the speech soon.

As the sun emerged from behind the clouds, it was time to hand out diplomas to graduating seniors. Mr. Hill, Academic Dean Gregory Tuleja, Chairman of the Board of Trustees John Hazen White Jr. ’76, delivered Williston diplomas to 124 graduating seniors.

A final hug for a member of the Class of 2017

Following a ringing of the Angelus, a tradition at the Northampton School for Girls that inspired daily quiet reflection, the Class of 2017 proceeded to a receiving line, saying often-teary good-byes and giving hugs to each robed member of the faculty. Groups of students shared a traditional cigar with friends, and left with proud family members.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017! May Williston remain in your hearts always!

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