Category Archives: Wednesday Assembly

On Innocent Bystanders, Cruelty Online, and Other Bullying Issues

During class assemblies time on Wednesday, January 15, sophomores watched a video called “The Bullying Experiment,” and then discussions on topics relating to bullying. Among the questions they considered were, “Do you agree with the statement, ‘There is no such thing as an innocent bystander’?” and “Would you say there is bullying at Williston, or would you just say there is ‘drama’?” They talked about how bullying changes depending on gender, how social media can amplify, and how to stop bullying.

“Good conversations were generated,” wrote Class Dean Matthew Spearing in a follow-up email to the sophomores.

“I hope you continue to discuss these topics in a respectful way. Standing up to help those in need is a serious issue. Putting yourself in others’ shoes, and seeing different perspectives is important to have empathy for each other. How would you like to be treated, especially in a time of need? Answering that question for yourself can help guide you in the decisions you make.

“Try to remember that no matter how hard you try, the person who is bullying you might not be willing to change his or her behavior. This is when talking to someone else can be really helpful. This may seem scary at first, however, telling someone can lighten your load and help you to work out how to address the problem and how you can stop being bullied. Talking to someone is particularly important if you feel unsafe or frightened. Asking for help or talking to someone about it is not being weak or have given in. In fact, it can take a lot of strength and courage.

“Although you may not want to, it’s important to tell someone in charge about what is happening. Your teachers, advisors, dorm parents, coaches, and school counselors want to know about bullying so they can take action and try to stop bullying across the school – it’s their job to help.

“There are many people who can support you, including friends, Proctors, advisors, dorm parents, coaches, Class Deans, Ms. Noble and Coach K., older brothers and sisters, teachers, family members, counselors or parents.

“The person you decide to talk to will be able to give you support and may be able to suggest ways to deal with the situation that you hadn’t considered. It’s important to address the feelings that come from being bullied. If you are seeing a counselor and feel you might get too nervous to speak, write down what you’d like to say on paper or in an email before your appointment. You might also feel more comfortable taking a friend with you.

“Please come talk to me if you want to discuss anything about this or other ideas you have.”

This is a poem of, by and for Williston

Editor’s note: The following poem was read during Upper School Assembly on Wednesday, February 20.

To a few factory buildings now used to mold minds
To these teachers who give it their all every time
To students who strive as no others have striven
Allow me to speak of your gift that keeps giving.
Unique stands our passion, diverse our pure purpose
Collected comprising a community of courage.

Hot air blowing through white curtains on a summer morning,
I sleep and eat and play games, ignoring mom’s warnings,
that I should instead do some chores;
but it’s real nice to take a break every once in a while,
and get ready for the upcoming trial.

From cool autumn mornings to dark winter nights
Tirelessly working to achieve new heights.
Though it’s not always simple each attempt keeps us reaching,
Stretching and hoping,
To find a new answer, a reason, a meaning

As the final days of the school year approach
We will all buy our dresses and ties
splashing in muddy puddles where snow used to be
Reminds us that we are just past childhood
But the books we read
The opinions we form
And the world that awaits
All promise a bright future.

By Evan Jacobson, Jiwon Lee, Mika Chmielewski, and Laura McCullagh

Trickle Up: International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2013

Editor’s Note: English teacher Ryan Tyree presented the following during the All-School Assembly on Wednesday, February 6.

Never again.

For Holocaust educators, this is the rallying cry, the promise we remember each day, to stay alert and guard against the threat – that history will repeat itself. On Jan. 27, 1945 Allied troops liberated the largest Nazi Labor and Death Camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau. For the last several years, that date has been set aside to reflect upon and remember the events known to us as the holocaust.

The holocaust was an event of global proportions, involving perpetrators, victims, bystanders, and rescuers. The most-commonly accepted time frame spans from 1933 to 1945.

You’ve heard of the trickle-down concept? The Holocaust was carried out from the highest levels of authority down. It was the organized, state-sponsored, bureaucratic, legal persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews and other targeted groups by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. What was wrong with these targeted groups? Why mistrust them, why shun them, why hate them? At the most basic level, they were outsiders. Supposedly different. Other.

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Moment of Silence by Mark Conroy

Editor’s Note: Mark Conroy, director of athletics, presented the following during Upper School Assembly on November 28, 2012.

Good morning everyone.

The primary purpose of our assembly this morning is to review our fall athletic season. Before doing so I wanted to take this opportunity to acknowledge a beloved member of our community, Al Lavalle, who passed away earlier this week.

Many of you know that Al worked at Williston for the past 13 years. While he was on the athletic grounds staff the past three years, for the previous 10, Al ran our Cage at the Athletic Center.

Al had an incredibly profound impact on everyone who knew him. With all due respect to all of us who work with students on a regular basis here, no one in our community impacted more students than Al during those ten years.

The 2007 yearbook was dedicated to Al. I wanted to share a couple of words from this dedication “Al is the second Dad we all wish we had. Never condescending, always funny, he is the person at Williston we go to for advice – Al is a true teacher in every sense of the word.” “Please and Thank You—two simple words that Al constantly reminded us to say—the lessons we learned from Al at the cage will stick with us for life.”

I would like to ask all of us to observe a few moments of silence in Al LaValle’s memory.

Go to the full list of Fall Team Highlights and Individual Honors.

A Moment of Reflection by Peter Gunn

Presented by history and global studies teacher Peter Gunn during The Williston Northampton School’s all-school meeting on September 19, 2012.

Good morning. A few of you have already heard what I am about to share, but I believe the two anniversaries of this week deserve a wider audience—and a moment of silent reflection and appreciation in our community.

On September 17th, 1787 thirty-seven American delegates signed the US Constitution and sent it to the states for ratification by convention. Rarely are countries born out of and built upon a set of ideas. The United States is one such country. While less familiar to our ear than Thomas Jefferson’s affirmation in the Declaration of Independence “that all men are created equal”, the preamble written by James Madison includes a sweeping expression of American ideals:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Over the past 225 years this document has served our nation well and contributed to positive political developments around the world.

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