Senior Dinner Speech by Maddy Stern ’14

So I’ve already spoken to you a bunch, and as soon as I realized how much I would be I had a somewhat frightening realization. There was absolutely no way I could come up with three or four life-changing, inspirational speeches, in fact I’d be lucky to come up with half of one. But after a couple stressful, caffeine-fueled 2 a.m. writing sessions, I finally understood something: Just as every speech can’t be life changing, not everyday at Williston is going to be the best.

There will be some days when getting up at 7 a.m. to finish the physics problem set seems impossible and when you don’t think you could possibly write one more supplemental essay. We’ve been here anywhere from 18 years to two weeks, but that’s not important, that’s not what defines us. We are all seniors.

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Convocation Address by Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan

Editor’s note: Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan P’08, ’10 presented the following address at the Williston Northampton School on September 16, 2013. 

Head of School Mr. Hill, esteemed faculty, proud parents, and honored students, good evening.  I am honored to be here tonight.  I am pleased to share in the excitement and promise of a new academic year at Williston Northampton School.

Tonight, I’d like to share some thoughts with our gathered students.  Don’t worry, you don’t need to take notes. There’ll be no test.

I only ask that you stay awake until I pull the winning student’s name for a semester of free bagels at Tandem Bagel Company—makers of the best bagels in Western Massachusetts. Yes, a shameless plug, but one of the few benefits of having the podium.

The Williston Northampton School is very special to me. I hope it is for you. I am a grateful parent of two Williston alums.  My oldest daughters, Marie and Annie, graduated from the Middle and Upper Schools.  Williston teachers, staff, coaches, and fellow students guided them through their educational journey and young adulthood.  Although challenging at times, their Williston experience gave them the tools to become engaged thinkers and better people.

I’d like to start my address with a big thank you to all the teachers, coaches, administrators, maintenance, dining hall, and support staff that make a difference each day in the lives of Williston students.

Another big thank you is for the parents and grandparents who make enormous sacrifices to invest in your future.

Living for over 20 years on Taft Ave, next to Williston’s playing fields, the sounds of whistles tooting, horns blowing, and fans cheering has been music to my ears.   Each September, the quiet of summer yields to the joyful sounds of athletic endeavors.  These sounds of autumn signal a new beginning for students, teachers, staff, and the community.

Convocation ushers in a new beginning with great possibilities.

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Orientation Day Speech by Abigail Rogers ’14

On a certain plane ride to the southern deserts of Utah, I sat down next to an elderly woman with a cute, floppy hat. I commented on it, which sparked a conversation that lasted the entire plane ride—a full five and half hours. We swapped our entire life stories, cried a lot, did some Sudoku, and looked through her entire camera roll…and while I remember all of these gestures in great detail, one particular statement she made stuck out more than the rest.

“You know, Abigail, we grow up being conditioned to believe that we all have to be leaders, and not followers. But I’ve discovered that you should be neither a leader nor a follower; just be yourself.”

The conversation progressed, but yet words still perplexed me. After all, why on earth would anyone not attempt to be a leader? When given the opportunity, why should someone stay seated when they could stand up and take a challenge?

Yet over time, I began to see what she meant.

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Senior Breakfast Speech by Maddy Stern ’14

Editor’s Note: Senior Maddy Stern presented the following speech to her class on Sept. 8, 2013 during orientation.

First off, congrats. We finally made it—senior year. Every other grade on campus basically wants to be us right now. Simply by virtue of being seniors we are in a position to make a large impact on the school; people look up to us (physically and metaphorically). Some days it may not feel like what you do is important, but it is essential to remember that even if you only impact one person, you’ve made a difference.

Everything we’ve come to love and will continue to love about Williston doesn’t just happen, we make it happen. We paint the lion; we put embarrassing posters all over the school for people’s birthdays; we throw the best dances; we are proctors, captains, tutors, artists, leaders—but these are all just parts of a much larger whole. Just as you shouldn’t make the mistake to categorize the people you will interact with, Williston isn’t simply a label, or a shield. It is the sum of all our individual parts.

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