As we approach the opening night of The Laramie Project, it is well that we remember a foundational value at Williston: Respect. That value was apparent at a recent assembly, when student actors showed this testimonial video. The video, which highlighted the impact that The Laramie Project has had on their world views, is one example of the best that a Williston education has to offer. How wonderful that students, including some previously unfamiliar with the stage, should choose to work on such a powerful and moving play.
I am constantly reminded that Williston is a respectful community, where individuals are valued and supported for who they are; it’s a “community of ‘we'” as I like to quote a student as saying.
As I read with sadness the uncivil discourse affecting an Ivy League college in New Hampshire (over issues of inclusivity and fundamental principles of respect and integrity), it is my fervent hope that Williston students will be leaders in their future communities, helping us advance towards the betterment of all.
Something out of the ordinary happened at the School’s 171st Commencement.
Actually, I would say that the entire Commencement was particularly memorable—given that a deluge outside drove us into the Athletic Center for only the third time in dozens of years. The address by Joanna Lau P’13 was captivating for the personal journey of courage and determination that it revealed in the story of the speaker’s mother.
But something else happened that was a bit odd. After the diplomas were conferred, I was asked if we could re-present the diploma to one of our young men. His parents had arrived too late to see the live version.
Being Williston—and not to be hung up on unbending ceremony—we improvised. We had the young man return his diploma and then take the walk across the stage, handshakes and all, so that his parents could enjoy the moment.
The view from the top of Taipei 101—the world’s tallest and greenest building when it opened in 2004—affords one an unobstructed 360 degree view of Taipei. Different from the forest of towers in Hong Kong, which at least in places look at and reflect off of one another, Taipei 101 occupies a singular position in the landscape. There’s nothing even close to it.
From what I’ve gleaned from the Williston Northampton families and alumni who came together for our reception here, Taipei 101 serves as a beacon for globalism. And the city reflects this sensibility, from the wide range of cars seen on the streets, to the international cuisine available, to the broad perspectives represented by our alumni and friends.
As we wrap up our six-city tour, doing so in Taipei serves as an exclamation point to what has been an extraordinary journey. Our students from Asia will travel to their homes shortly after our own return to the Pioneer Valley, and each time this trans-Pacific journey occurs, one perspective infuses another, ensuring that Williston’s education remains relevant, unobstructed, and beacon-like in its own right.
The recent—and in the long memories of veteran Williston people, unprecedented— early snow storm and resulting power outage has left us with many memories, stories, and reflections. In a real world test of our emergency planning, we overcame the substantial logistical hurdle of finding warm housing for 265 boarding students in a 24-hour period.
To recount the time line: Williston lost all power at about 8:00 pm on Saturday evening and by Sunday night, only a few dozen students had to spend a second night in cold dormitories, warmed by the upbeat and caring oversight of their dormitory parents.