Category Archives: 2014-15 Assemblies

Coming Full Circle by Sarah Williams Carlan ’92

The feelings of love and belonging are essential to the human experience. We need them as much as we need food, water, and shelter. For the past 20 years I have studied this human need, in text books, through research, and finally, with my clients and their families. The first time I felt love and belonging, outside of my family and close friends, was at Williston.

I came to the Williston Middle School after two years of feeling like a player without a playbook. For those two years I came to school feeling like everyone else knew the rules to the game and I was in the dark. I had difficulty making friends and could not seem to cram the spelling words and math facts into my head as fast as the teachers wanted me to. My sense of isolation grew like tumor in my chest, leaving me feeling empty and alone.

When my parents generously gave me the opportunity to apply to Williston, I was elated. I felt like I had been pardoned by the governor. I could finally get out of this place! I had no idea what I was stepping into.

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On Heart Health by Marcus Ware

Editor’s note: Former faculty member Marcus Ware presented the following speech about heart health during an Upper School assembly on February 18, 2015.

I would like to thank Ms. Brousseau for reaching out to me a few weeks ago and asking me to consider coming to Williston today to speak to you all. I would also like to thank Mrs. Pickrell and Ms. Jordan Sansone. As I understand it, they too have had their own experiences with Heart Health and are here today with me to bring an awareness to the community about this topic. Thank you, ladies.

Williston, thank you for having me today. I want to share something personal with you. In fact, even people in my extended family do not even know or understand my heart condition. By the end of this talk, I hope you will have learned something about my condition, will have been slightly amused by my humor, and will want to take steps in being aware of your own conditions as they relate to heart health.

Okay, let me take you back in time. It was January 1998. I was a junior at Springfield Putnam High School. And, like most seniors I was living up my junior year of high school. NSYNC was singing songs like, “it’s tearin’ up my heart when I’m with you…” and Backstreet Boys told me that I could say, “But my love is all, I have to give…!” Yes, it was the time of boy bands and I was having fun. My wife at the time, Beyonce, was part of a group known as Destiny’s Child… Okay, okay, no, I was not married, but I had to make sure that you were listening because, people, what we are here talking about today is a serious topic.

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Button Speech: Northampton School at 90

Editor’s note: This annual speech by Williston Archivist Rick Teller ’70 takes its name from the manufacturing business school founders Samuel and Emily Williston (although buttons themselves are not usually the focus). This year, Mr. Teller spoke during Upper School assembly on October 1, 2014.

Good morning. We call this the button speech. For those of you who are new to us, it is an annual presentation concerning some aspect of Williston Northampton history. For those of you who are not new, there is absolutely no truth to the story that it’s the same every year. Let me add that the only reference to buttons that you will hear this morning has already happened.

OK, a caveat. A few of you seniors heard a portion of today’s talk back in freshman year. I suspect that fewer of you remember, so I’m not especially worried. And it seems important this year to talk about Northampton School for Girls, since this fall is the 90th anniversary of their founding.

Northampton School for Girls is the “Northampton” in our name. They merged with Williston Academy in 1971. Their history, their legacy is an integral part of who we, meaning you, are, here in 2014.

So let’s go back to 1920. Northampton School history really begins with the Capen School for Girls. Capen was a small but highly regarded school located next to Smith College in Northampton. (In fact, those of you who attended the Smith College Campus School are intimately familiar with the former Capen property.)

The Capen School did not survive the death of Miss Bessie Capen, its headmistress and owner — talk about a private school! Capen was one of a great many girls’ academies that have since vanished from the educational map. Early in the 20th century girls could not make the assumptions about education and careers that you do now. If a woman attended college at all, she might go to a state normal school, and prepare for a career as a schoolteacher. Most private colleges were male enclaves, but there were a number of fine women’s colleges, either associated with men’s schools, like Radcliffe or Barnard, or independent colleges: Wellesley, Smith, Vassar, Mount Holyoke — whose mission was to provide women an education equal in rigor to that offered to men at Yale and Amherst. An ambitious young woman might attend one of these colleges, although there was certainly no guarantee, or even encouragement, that she continue a professional life after college.

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Mesics Instructorship Presentation by Peter Valine

Melissa Brousseau honored for her work at Williston

Editor’s note: The Mesics Instructorship was presented to Melissa Brousseau during Upper School Assembly in the Phillips Stevens Chapel on September 17, 2014

Ms. Brousseau at work in the training room. Photo by R.J. Sakai
Ms. Brousseau at work in the training room. Photo by R.J. Sakai

“The Sandra Bashore ’55 and Joseph C. Mesics Instructorship was established in 2001 to recognize a young faculty member’s initiatives in and out of the classroom.”

The new recipient of the Mesics Instructorship is very deserving of this distinction as she has made a significant imprint on the Williston community in each of the three areas of boarding school life: academics, the afternoon program, and residential life.

In her classroom, whether it be the gymnasium teaching Physical Education to Middle Schoolers or a laboratory teaching Anatomy and Physiology to high school students, she is well prepared and enthusiastic. Her success as an educator is built on the foundation of creating clear expectations, demonstrating expertise in the subject area, and providing positive reinforcement. She creates a constructive learning environment in which her students freely share their understandings and opinions. Her thoughtful lesson planning makes the curriculum engaging and relevant arousing the curiosity and interest of her students. Last year a student in her Anatomy and Physiology class wrote, “She is always calling on us, keeping us on our toes, but she is also eager to help us along. It is clear that she wants us all to succeed.”

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