Tag Archives: Head of School

Commencement Address by Robert W. Hill III

Editor’s note: The following speech was presented by Head of School Robert W. Hill III during the 172nd Commencement Exercises at the Williston Northampton School on May 26, 2013.

Good morning and welcome parents, families, guests, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, students, and especially the Class of 2013.

On Tuesday, this grand canopy that we are gathered under transformed our quad so that we could experience Commencement as one upper school for the first time in anyone’s memory (I even asked Mr. Teller). It seems right to me as well that we are all under one big tent, because as all of you students know better than anyone else, the essence of our school is found in community.

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Baccalaureate Speech by Robert W. Hill III

Editor’s Note: The following Baccalaureate remarks were presented by Head of School Robert W. Hill III on May 25, 2013 in Stephens Chapel.

Good evening seniors, parents, colleagues and welcome to our Baccalaureate Ceremony for the Class of 2013. I wanted to share a few remarks before we begin this traditional ceremony which dates from Medieval times signifying the attainment of learning and knowledge.

Preparing for this weekend, I face an annual recognition which all speakers at this time of year realize—if they are honest. It’s a dilemma which comes from trying to think of something interesting or, even harder, something memorable to say to seniors who are about to graduate and who have had their fill of advice, nostalgia, and predictions. It’s times like this that I wish I could go to Mrs. Sawyer’s writing center, or better yet, just ask her to come redeliver the message to you guys from a couple of weeks ago: Remember that lesson? “Be kinder than necessary and work with love.”

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Safety is the Priority: All-School Assembly

by Head of School Robert W. Hill III. Originally presented during all-school assembly on Thursday, January 3, 2013.

I wanted to welcome everyone back, but also to extend a warm Williston welcome to a new member of the class of 2015, Fiona Li, who joins us from Hong Kong and will be living in John Wright.

Also, I want to welcome the latest member of the Athas family, Avery Elizabeth Athas, who was born two days after you left for the holidays.

The holiday banquet seems a long way off already and much has happened in our world.  It is appropriate—as an elementary school about 90 minutes away near Newtown, CT reconvenes today—to commit ourselves to all that is good in the world.  Events like Sandy Hook, and the transcendence of such tremendous loss, bring our own lives into perspective. That is a paradox of human nature I suppose.  When events broke, we acknowledged the tragedy with a moment of silence at the faculty and staff dinner, by words spoken by Mr. Conroy at the girls basketball tournament, my letter home to families, our alumni office reaching out to those Williston graduates living In Newtown, and most visibly perhaps, by our flags flying at half-mast.

Your safety and the safety of everyone at Williston is always our top priority—and while you students may sometimes get annoyed by us nagging parents saying to pause for cars, tell us when you are leaving campus, or avoid getting into dangerous situations, we say these things because we care about you. Williston is a large family.  We had an all school safety drill last fall and there will be others.  I don’t know if some of you listening have lingering questions or fears about Sandy Hook, but if you do, counseling services, advisers, and mentors are here for you.

Let’s make 2013 a memorable and safe year at Williston and it’s great to have you all back.

Williston Northampton Today

Presented by Head of School Robert W. Hill III in the Williston Theatre on June 9, 2012 during Reunion.

Before I begin, I’d like to give a warm welcome to all alumni: NSFG alumni, Williston alumni, and of course, Williston Northampton School alumni.  As I was considering remarks for today, I was thinking about how schools change, but also how they stay the same.  Emblematic of this duality is the ceremony that we will hold later this afternoon; the dedication of the newly installed Angelus on the terrace behind 194 Main Street.

The Angelus was the bell which called NSFG students to a moment of daily reflection, a practice that we have memorialized and adapted to Williston Northampton’s convocation and commencement exercises. I invite all of you who are interested in this NSFG symbol to come to the dedication at 4 pm.

Being head of school in the 21st century presents some unique challenges relative to other distinct periods of recent history. While we can look to the past for direction, it also appears that we are in a period of flux every bit as dramatic as that of the late 1960s and early 1970s when we experienced landscape-shifting changes. It is not a surprise to me, looking back as a quasi-historian, that coeducation for schools and colleges took hold during the social upheavals of the Vietnam era.

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