Remarks delivered at The Williston Northampton School’s Senior Dinner on September 14, 2012, by Tim Murphy, Director of Placement at The Fessenden School.
Thank you Mr. Hill, Elizabeth D’Amour, faculty, and members of the Class of 2013. It is hard to express, after spending 13 years of my life at Williston, what it means to me to be invited to speak to you today. I don’t think I’ve been this nervous since my freshman English class in 1992, when I addressed the assembled school community in the Chapel about Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas!
When I told my dad in passing a few weeks ago that I’d be speaking at Williston, he became quiet and looked out the car window for a few moments. He then recalled dropping me off outside the Williston Middle School on my first day of 7th grade in 1990. As I walked, apprehensively, away from the safety of his car and towards that front door, I stopped, briefly, turned back, and shot him a nervous smile, feigning confidence and enthusiasm. My dad, not believing my face for a second, prayed that I would survive. “That you would thrive,” he told me later, “didn’t even occur to me. I only wanted you to survive.” Survive I did. And if you will indulge me a brief trip down memory lane, I’ll give you some background.
The Director of the Middle School, with whom I immediately connected, was a kind man from Zimbabwe named Desmond Pullen. My math teacher was the ever-patient, always positive, Mimi King. My English teacher, who pushed me hard to become a good writer and forever eradicated the word “um” from my vocabulary, was Paul Sonerson. Sitting in the classrooms of these dynamic teachers, I soon forgot about my unhappy elementary school experience in a rigid parochial school, and reveled in a school environment where teachers sought my opinions, joined me at my lunch table if I needed extra help, and delighted in my quirky sense of humor. I was hooked. My life would never be the same again.