The Williston Northampton School Bulletin, Fall 2018

Page 1


THE FUTURE A revealing look at Williston’s state-of-the-art new dormitory





In recognition of the Class of 1968’s generous 50th Reunion gift to the Williston Northampton Fund, Ford Hall’s new terrace and gathering spot was named in their honor. Read more about this record-breaking class and their 50th Reunion.



New trustee Susan Jackson ’80 brings her corporate background to the Bermuda Parliament.


The beautiful food of chef and entrepreneur Laura Bowman ’13 makes us very, very hungry.


21 | BUILDING THE FUTURE A revealing look at Williston’s state-of-the-art new dormitory, the John Hazen White House, and our emerging Residential Quad AROUND THE QUAD

6 | CAMPUS NEWS The Laramie Project, Pints and Pancakes 5K run, new clubs on campus, and more

8 | CREATIVITY AT WORK A roundup of artists, activists, filmmakers, and writers who have visited campus in recent months

10 | COLLEGE 101 Catherine McGraw shares how her office is bringing new approaches to the college application process.

12 | PHOTO FINISH Three dynamic photographs of Williston students in action

18 | THE WILLILIST A by-the-numbers look at recent school highlights

20 | IN THEIR OWN WORDS A powerful Commencement speech by Harrison Winrow ’18


29 | PERSON OF INTEREST Robert Grenier ’72 talks about what it takes to be a CIA agent.

34 | WILDCAT ROUNDUP News and notes on six super alumni

36 | THE ART OF NEIL GRAYSON ’85 Exploring light in the darkness, Neil Grayson creates mesmerizing works that change before your eyes.

40 | WHALE WATCHER Sarah McCullagh ’10 educates visitors about the orcas of the Pacific Northwest.

42 | BEHIND THE LENS The amazing work of photographer Jim Hollander ’68


47 | REUNION RECAP The photos, highlights, and awards of Reunion 2018

61 | 5 QUESTIONS FOR DIANE SPENCE ’68 What was life like at Northampton School for Girls in the late 1960s? Maddy Scott ’16 finds out from Diane Yelle Spence ’68. IN EVERY ISSUE

2 | HEAD’S LETTER 4 | IN BOX 63 | CLASS NOTES The latest news from alums

87 | IN MEMORY Remembering those we have lost

i n b ox Head of School ROBERT W. HILL III P’15, ’19

Head’s Letter

Chief Advancement Officer ERIC YATES P’17, ’21 Director of Alumni Engagement JILL STERN P’14, ’19 Director of Communications ANN HALLOCK P’20, ’22 Design Director ARUNA GOLDSTEIN Assistant Director of Communications DENNIS CROMMETT Communications Writer and Coordinator KATE LAWLESS Please send letters to the editor, class notes, obituaries, and changes of address to: The Williston Northampton School Advancement Office 19 Payson Avenue Easthampton, MA 01027 email:

Non-Discrimination Statement: Williston admits qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, gender, religion, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or mental or physical disability, and extends to them all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. The school does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, gender, religion, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or mental or physical disability, or any other status protected by applicable law in the administration of its admissions, scholarships, and loans, and its educational, athletic, and other policies and programs.


Robert W. Hill III in front of Williston’s newest dormitory, John Hazen White House

As I’m sure you’ll recall, the pace of life at a prep school in the fall moves quickly: new courses, new friends, game days, Family Weekend, and Saturday classes. Before you know it, coaches are trying to fit in practices before it gets dark, and Thanksgiving break is upon us. This fall, some exciting initiatives have made autumn feel especially eventful. On campus, we are witnessing physical improvements at a historic level, from the pragmatic (a new parking area behind the Homestead) to the functional (renovating the lower level of the library to create a new academic support center) to the truly transformative (the opening of the newly dedicated John Hazen White House on our Residential Quad). As you’ll discover in this issue’s feature story, beginning on page 21, the new dorm is already bringing a sense of community and excitement to this area, which will only continue to expand when we break ground next year on a third dorm adjacent to John Hazen White House. Meanwhile, our College Counseling office has been tireless in the work of preparing students for the next phase of their lives. As Catherine McGraw explains on page 10, her office has introduced new ways to better serve students. These programs not only position us competitively with our peer schools, but are also helping to make the college search process easier, less stressful, and more targeted for students today. You, our alumni, have also been hard at work! Read on and you’ll find stories of classmates who have gone on to such varied careers as photojournalist, CIA agent, painter, whale biologist, and parliamentarian. You’ll also hear about the industrious class of 1968, who came back in record numbers for their 50th Reunion this past spring. In recognition of their class spirit and generous Reunion gift to the Williston Northampton Fund, a new brick terrace was dedicated in their honor at a ceremony in late October—just one more thing that has made this fall at Williston one to remember.

Follow Robert Hill on Twitter at @hill3williston.

i n b ox

5 REASONS TO VISIT THE NEW WILLISTON.COM This summer, our Communications team worked closely with the Admission and Advancement departments to reimagine and redesign Here are just a few reasons to visit the new site: Find out about upcoming events. Visit the alumni section of the website to learn about events in your area, get Reunion information, and discover other ways to connect with your former classmates. Get up-to-the-minute sports scores and game recaps. Want to see how your favorite team is doing this season? Check out our teams and schedules pages for the latest Wildcat news.


Watch games live. While we’re talking sports, did you know you can watch live games every week, right on It’s like you’re right there in the bleachers! Read fascinating stories about your classmates. We’re always writing about our amazing alumni, students, and faculty. See stories from the Bulletin and much more throughout the new site. Visit the Williston campus. One goal of the redesign was to bring the campus to life through multimedia tools, such as photography, slide shows, and video. You can even scroll through a virtual “Day in the Life at Williston,” which shows you a student’s typical day, hour by hour.



“Thank your peers when they do you a favor, thank your teachers after class, thank the dining staff when they bring out food, thank the drivers when they let you cross the street, and thank your parents, grandparents, or whoever made it possible for you to come here.” Class President D.J. Poulin ’19, whose Convocation address emphasized the importance of being kind

“Instead of looking for affirmation in the things you know, or think you know, give yourself the assignment to actually look for something new in your experience, something you’ve never seen before. —Convocation speaker Chic Eglee’70 (read more about his visit on page 8)

“Take your headphones out; listen to music with other people. Walk in the snow. Be by yourself, be with friends, put down your phone and talk. Or listen. Join a club. Dye your hair. If someone says you’re weird, say thanks.” —English teacher Matt Liebowitz offering advice during his Senior Dinner speech

“The 2018 edition of The Log is titled ‘Words of the Wildcats.’ Simply put it’s about giving a voice to our Williston community. It’s about speaking up, about listening, about appreciating what others are saying. So it seems fitting that we dedicate this book to a faculty member who devotes her life to giving people a voice.” —Editors of The Log, dedicating the yearbook to Assistant Dean of Students Erin Davey

“If you have a personal relationship with the words you’re saying it is easy to memorize the poem.”

“In poetry, we can have Shakespeare and we can have the streets. L’il Wayne and Shakespeare can be hanging together.” —Writers’ Workshop presenter Roger Reeves, award-winning poet

“Jordan never gets rattled. No matter the pace of the game, the projected outcome, or outside factors, Jordan remains Jordan. She’s incredibly consistent and reliable.” —Softball coach Erin Davey on the 500th career strikeout by Jordan Strum ’18, who pitched a shutout game and went 4 for 4 at the plate with two home runs and six RBIs

—Grum Project visiting artist Anis Mojgani, award-winning spoken word poet (see more on page 8)

FALL 2018


i n b ox



LOL(WILD)CAT As if you needed more proof that the Internet is ruled by cats, Wildcat social media just got a little more social! We now have a Twitter feed (@WNSAlumni) and a Facebook page (@ WillistonAlumni) that are all about Williston Northampton School alumni, maintained by Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement and Giving Maddy Scott ’16. Check them often to read the latest about your peers, relive memories, and find fun features. One recent example: As we closed out our fundraising year this June, we asked those who made a gift to tell us their favorite spot on campus. We then snapped a photo of the Wildcat there and posted it to Twitter with the hashtag #WhereatWilly. Here he is on the track! #GoWildcats


PHOTO FUN! Did you know Williston’s Flickr page—where photos show both everyday life and extraordinary moments on campus—has been viewed more than 26 million times? That’s a lot of eyeballs! One recent highly viewed album was Family Weekend (1). Other social media moments: The GSA shows their pride at the activities fair (2). Mr. Tuleja gets pranked (and calmly carries on) by seniors last spring (3). Ford Hall boys look sharp at Convocation (4). Ms. Klumpp Segwayed this summer around Krakow, Poland, as part of her research into World War II for her class Hitler and Nazi Germany (5).










Emily Ditkovski, director of the Williston Theatre, leads rehearsals for The Laramie Project. The blue shape behind the actor center stage represents an outline of a map of the town of Laramie, Wyoming. For more on the play, see page 6.




On the 20th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s death, Williston students explore themes of tragedy and understanding in the fall play, The Laramie Project.


Director of the Williston Theatre “This play means a great deal to me—it shows 6 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

that the arts, theatre specifically, have a role in creating social change and opening up difficult conversations. I’ve directed it three times now and it always asks me to be a better theater practitioner and person. It reminds me that making our world a better place is an active pursuit—and I am always inspired by how the actors take this message to heart. The amount of community education and outreach they do makes me hopeful for the future. It is always terrifying to see the darkest side of humanity, which rears its head in this play, but it is ultimately a hopeful play that reminds us to listen and see one another.”

ALEX MARWAHA Actor “Laramie is easy to write off as a homophobic town in Wyoming that is entirely hostile to queer people, but it isn’t. Queer people live in Laramie, and the play forces you to understand

the humanity of the people who hate— to understand why they think that way.”


Stage manager “This play asked us to come together as a community and as a company, and because of that, I’ve learned a lot about myself and the other people working on this show. It makes me hopeful that people of all kinds can come together and create something beautiful.”

BRIE BANNAS Actor The Laramie Project was an experience I will never forget. It reminded me of how important it is to love and accept in this chaotic world. It was an opportunity to tell a story for so many people who couldn’t, and I am forever grateful for it. In the words of Harry Woods, ‘Thank you, Matthew.’”



his fall, 20 Williston students participated in a production of The Laramie Project, a play based on the hundreds of interviews conducted by a theater company in the wake of the hate-crime murder of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old University of Wyoming student who was gay. The play held special resonance 20 years after his death, as Shepard’s remains were interred at the Washington National Cathedral on October 26, an honor given to great Americans, from Woodrow Wilson to Helen Keller. We asked members of the production to describe how it felt to be part of the play, and how it shaped their perception of humanity, and of hope.

We all scream for ice cream, especially if it’s from Mt. Tom’s. Try the signature Williston flavor, Wild Cake Batter.


Pints + Pancakes Our inaugural (and yummiest ever) 5K race took place on a sunny autumn Sunday On October 21, Williston Northampton alumni, faculty, staff, students, and families laced up for the first annual Pints + Pancakes 5K run/walk race. Runners from our community ran mightily in the race, which was held on the Williston cross-country course. Top runners won pints of Williston-themed ice cream from local institution Mt. Tom’s Homemade Ice Cream. But really, everybody won when ice cream and hot-off-thegriddle pancakes were served. We hope you’ll join us next year!

Since 2009, illustrator Jake Parker has been leading #Inktober, a daily drawing challenge on Instagram during the spookiest month. This year, visual and performing arts teacher Wendy Staples invited the Williston community to join her in this creative challenge. “It’s a way for me to spend 20 to 60 minutes a day on improving my skills and dedicating more time to drawing,” she said. Fifteen students took her up on it; see some of the work on Instagram @willistonarts.

HOT CLUBS ON CAMPUS Here’s a sampling of some of the creative and inclusive clubs at Williston!


The Ukelele Crew

Pond Hockey Club

To educate her classmates on eating right, a student started this new club. They’ll host tastings throughout the year showcasing healthy and delicious foods.

Williston says Mahalo to its new club celebrating the four-stringed instrument that’s as easy to play as it

The campus pond is deemed safe for skating once it reaches five inches of ice, measured in six locations—at which point this club laces up for some classic New England fun!

is to throw in a backpack.

Women’s Action Alliance This strictly non-partisan club was founded in 2016, and aims to hear and support girls make their experience at Williston the best one possible.


Creativity at Work



A roundup of artists, activists, filmmakers, and writers who have inspired us on campus in recent months


Film and television director Dan Phakos ’06 brought his chops to campus to help a student realize her vision and make a PSA about the dangers of texting and driving. The project took two days and involved a cadre of student actors and technicians. “The students were treated as if they were on a professional set and they worked at the highest level of intensity throughout,” said photography teacher Ed Hing ’77. Phakos will return to campus this year for a second Grum Project engagement.


Entrepreneur, activist, and musician Pierce Freelon ’02 delivered the class of 2018’s Commencement address. Freelon has entered the political fray in his hometown of Durham, North Carolina; his platform emphasizes racial equity and giving a voice to all members of the community. The founder of Blackspace, a digital-maker space in Durham where young people learn about music, film, and coding, he’s also frontman of the jazz hip-hop band The Beast. Back on campus this




May, Freelon engaged stuents in a call-and-response rap, saying, “Williston is like paint on a pallet; any picture that you want, I’m telling you that you can have it.” 3. CHIC EGLEE ’70

Emmy- and PeabodyAward-winning film and television screenwriter and producer Chic Eglee ’70 was Williston’s speaker

around the quad

at its 178th Convocation. Eglee’s credits include St. Elsewhere, Moonlighting, NYPD Blue, Dexter, and The Walking Dead. Eglee told students about his experience as a young person coming of age while the Vietnam War howled in the background. He also recounted how Williston helped shape his view of the world. After the ceremony, Mr. Eglee spent time with two classmates (see photo #3), Bill Czelusniak ’70, left, and Rick Teller ’70, right. 4. ANIS MOJGANI




Spoken-word wizard Anis Mojgani captivated students with his stage presence and easy approachability at a special Friday night Spoken Word Festival in April. The two-time National Poetry Slam Champion and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam has presented in front of audiences as varied as the House of Blues and the United Nations. Having a guest like Mojgani “allows us to experience art forms and cultures that we would not otherwise be aware of,” said visual and performing arts teacher and theatre director Emily Ditkovski. Mojgani visited as part of our Grum Project series. 5. MARK GUGLIELMO

Mark Guglielmo, a visual artist who creates photo-

mosaics paired with audio recordings, continued our Grum Project offerings. Guglielmo’s work depicts the lives of Cuban people before and after the death of Fidel Castro. His large images—between 5 feet and 15 feet wide—were created by piecing together by hand thousands of 4- by 6-inch photographs. The fragmented images hung in the Grubbs Gallery this fall. During his two-month residency, Guglielmo worked with classes across a variety of disciplines, from language to history to arts. The project culminated in an assembly with a presentation of his work and a Cuban band performance. 6. NAOMI JACKSON

The entire Williston community read Naomi Jackson’s The Star Side of Bird Hill in preparation for the author’s visit to campus in November as Williston’s second Writers’ Workshop presenter of the year. Among other awards, The Star Side of Bird Hill was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. The story of two sisters from Brooklyn who are suddenly sent to Barbados to live with their grandmother in part reflects Jackson’s life as a Brooklyn-based writer of West Indies heritage. The Buffalo News called this debut novel, “Stunning… poignant.” — kate lawless


around the quad


COLLEGE COUNSELING Catherine McGraw shares how her office is bringing new approaches to the college application process.

When Williston seniors learn of their acceptance to colleges and universities this spring, the news will be the culmination of a process that—for better or worse—has been a central focus of their lives for years. To provide support during this often-stressful time, the College Counseling office has introduced a suite of programs to help students learn more about potential schools, improve their applications, and present their accomplishments in the best light. Director of College Counseling Catherine McGraw explains six of the new initiatives. —JONATHAN ADOLPH

2018 COLLEGE MATRICULATION • Assumption College (2) • Babson College • Barnard College • Baylor University • Berklee College of Music • Boston University • Bowdoin College (5) • Bryant University (2) • Chapman University • Charleston Southern University • Colby College • Colby-Sawyer College

• College of the Holy Cross • Columbia University • Connecticut College (2) • Cornell University (2) • Dartmouth College • Dickinson College • Drexel University • Elmira College • Elon University (2) • Emerson College • Fordham University (2) • Gettysburg College


• Hampshire College • Haverford College • Ithaca College • Keio University • Kenyon College • Lafayette College • Lehigh University • Lynn University • Merrimack College (3) • New York School of Interior Design • New York University (3)

• Northwestern University • Otis College of Art and Design • Peking University • Pomona College • Princeton University • Providence College (2) • Purdue University (2) • Rochester Institute of Technology • Roger Williams University • Rollins College



“One of the hardest things for students is figuring out what types of colleges they are interested in,” McGraw notes. “How do you even know where to go and visit?” To help them learn more, the office now hosts mini college fairs in the fall and spring. This year’s fall fair, conveniently held at the athletic center at the end of the academic day, attracted representatives from 60 colleges. For a more personal introduction to a school, the office also now hosts informal dinners with college representatives, allowing students to hear about schools in the relaxed setting of the Cox Room.



For the last two years, rising seniors have been required to write a first draft of their college essay over the summer, “so they are not starting it in the middle of the fall of their senior year when they already have a rigorous course load,” explains McGraw. On the day of the PSATs, in October, seniors attend an essay-writing boot camp, spending the morning in the dining hall working on their essays with English department faculty. Faculty also offer additional essay-writing workshops in the fall and spring, as well as workshops for supplemental essays.




The College Counseling office now works with the junior and senior class deans to present college preparatory information in class assemblies over the course of the year. Among the recent topics: a college dean’s explanation of the admission process, advice from young alums on choosing a school, and a “speed dating” program where students could choose from a list of mini workshops. “They are so busy,” explains McGraw. “They have so much to do and are pulled in so many different directions that weaving information into their schedule works best.”

• Sacred Heart University • Saint Joseph’s College-ME • Saint Michael’s College • Sarah Lawrence College • Skidmore College (2) • Smith College • Sophia University • Springfield College (2) • St. Olaf College • Syracuse University (4) • The College of Saint Rose • The College of Wooster

• The George Washington University (2) • University of Arizona (2) • Trinity College • Tufts University (2) • Union College (2) • University of British Columbia • University of California, San Diego • University of Cincinnati • University of Colorado at Boulder (3)



Since his arrival three years ago, head football coach Tom Beaton has served as the counseling office’s liaison to the athletic department, helping students navigate the recruitment and eligibility processes. With his previous experience as a coach at Tufts University, “Tom is an in-house expert for students who are interested in pursuing sports at the college level,” notes McGraw.



In partnership with the Financial Aid office, the College Counseling office this year launched a need-based grant program for qualified students to defray the cost of the college application process. Qualified seniors and juniors receive $500 to cover application fees, testing fees, workshops, or travel to prospective colleges.



Beginning last year, students who demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to the arts, in both course work and co-curricular activities, can earn an Arts Concentration, which McGraw describes as similar to having a minor in college. Last year 15 students earned the acknowledgement, which appears on their transcript. “In my mind this really sets our students apart in the college process. If they have gone above and beyond with their interest in the arts, it’s important to recognize that. Colleges tell us they have under 15 minutes to review a student’s application, so the more on a transcript that sets our students apart, the better.”


• University of Connecticut • University of Massachusetts, Amherst (6) • University of Miami (2) • University of New England • University of New Hampshire at Durham • University of Pennsylvania • University of Rhode Island • University of Richmond • University of Vermont (2) • Utah State University

• Vanderbilt University • Wentworth Institute of Technology • Wheaton College MA • Williams College



During afternoon Arts Intensive, Abby Seltzer ’20 works on a clay sculpture of a moon face, which she later fired, and hung as part of a larger installation sculpture. “I am most happy when I am completely absorbed in a process,” she said. “For me, it’s like solving a complex math problem.” Student work like Abby’s is exhibited throughout the Reed Campus Center during Arts Walk at the end of every trimester.





On a fall day at Galbraith, Otto Bull ’19 leads the attack against Cushing Academy. When Williston fielded its first soccer team in 1921, the sport was still known in the United States as football. In the century since, the Wildcats have enjoyed great success on the pitch. Against the Penguins of Ashburnham, however, a frustrating consistency marked recent results: zero wins since 2012. All that changed on this day, when the boys recovered from an early deficit to claim a 3–1 victory.





A new ninth grader braves the high ropes course during the orientation trip to Camp Becket. An apt metaphor for the first year at Williston, with its array of academic and social challenges, the exercise is designed to build confidence. “It’s challenge by choice,” says Class Dean Allison Marsland. “You go only if you’re ready. We encourage you to take the first step out of your comfort zone, then the second, then the third.” Not visible in the photo: classmates calling out support as they await their turns. “Many are able to make it much farther than they thought possible,” reports Marsland.


The WilliList A by-the-numbers look at recent school highlights —BY DENNIS CROMMETT



Restaurants within one mile of campus include Kisara Sushi and Coco & the Cellar Bar, where chef Unmi Abkin has been named a James Beard Award semifinalist for "Best Chef in the Northeast" for the third time. We recommend the Korean rice noodle dish ddeokbokki.

5–4 Final score of the August 28 Yankees-White Sox game at Yankee Stadium, where alumni, parents, and friends gathered to cheer on the Bronx Bombers. (Rooting for the opposing Chicago White Sox was also acceptable.)


Number of lines of code written by students in App Programming during the first unit of trimester one.

Square footage of the new Center for Academic Success. Located in the Clapp Memorial Library, the center provides support to students at every level, with the resources and instruction they need to succeed.


Years Rick Teller ’70 has served the Williston community, from teaching social studies to directing student activities to his current role as librarian and archivist. Teller has been part of the Williston family since childhood, when both his parents taught. (His mom is actually the only person to have taught at all three schools!). Teller was honored for his service at this year’s Convocation.

around the quad



New videos produced for Admission. The collection highlights the arts, athletics, campus life, and college counseling at Williston, as well as the newly launched COMPASS Program.

Countries represented in 2018–19 at Williston, including Bermuda, Germany, India, Nigeria, and Vietnam, with every continent represented except Antarctica and Australia.


Number of jobs held by English teacher and Willistonian advisor Matt Liebowitz before coming to Williston, including dishwasher, staff writer for several San Diego newspapers, and teaching positions in California and Massachusetts. Liebowitz outlined his jobs as part of an inspirational speech at May’s senior dinner.



Jump height by Michael Polk ’18, breaking the longstanding 6’6” high jump record set in 1985 by Doug McMillin ’84. Polk also triple jumped 45’8”, breaking Cam Williams’ 2009 record by more than 2 feet.


Points scored this spring by water polo star Abbie Coscia ’19, during a season in which she broke every school water polo scoring record: goals in season and career, and points in a season and career.



Entries in the 11th Annual Williston Film Festival in May. The winner of the Best Williston Film went to Kira Bixby ’19 for her film “Bullet.”

Saves this season by Dylan Fulcher-Melendy ’20, who broke her own record as water polo goalie this spring. Fulcher-Melendy also set school records for most steals and assists in a season.


Strikeouts in the career of Jordan Strum ’18, who finished her reign in style when she became the first pitcher in Williston softball history to break this lofty milestone. FALL 2018 BULLETIN 19

around the quad



was looking in the mirror, a halo of bulbs crowning me. In the backstage dressing room, sweating profusely, on the closing night of my final theater performance on the Williston stage. Sentimentality serves one well on days like that, on days like this. I applied my stage makeup, layer upon layer upon layer. And I closed my eyes, and I retracted all limbs into my core, and I rolled like the very first wheel, back in time, to my very first day here, at Williston. Well, it wasn’t the first day. I think it was a collage day, compiled of the sweetest moments I have experienced here. We entered the green gates of the Williston Northampton School, an open hand. And with the days and months and years, the collage of days and months and years closed and curled each finger with the precision of pressurizing coal. And now, we are a fist. And with this fist we have the power of phenomenal destruction. Or construction. Creation. Or, with the first step you take beyond these bricks, you can pry those fingers up. Crack the fist open and reveal the precious stone that was produced under the immense pressure in the palm of your hand. Find the diamond, the pearl. The diploma you are soon to

receive. That is your diamond. That is the culmination of every hour you spent reading, every test and quiz. That diamond, that diploma, is the magnified artifact that shines now because it once could not shine. And so there I was, sitting in front of that mirror, my halo of lightbulbs. Closing night, hearts on sleeves. Over mountain high, valley low, and river wide, some Sherpa inside my ribcage took me back to then, another collage of days. You see, this is not my first time saying goodbye to Williston. About two years ago now, I was committed to a general admission psychiatric ward in a nearby hospital. This was a terrifying collage of days, but also the most beautiful opportunity for the Williston community to bare that beating heart of theirs, and rescue me. A few weeks ago, I told the senior class that they will never ever have to be alone. That we will always be the graduating class of 2018, that we

“Once you step inside this green fencing, you become part of something far greater than yourself. Far deeper, and more cultured, and alive.”



can all get matching neck tattoos: purpose, passion, integrity. An idea not well-received, but presented in good faith. I say again, today, that we are never alone. Once you step inside this green fencing, you become part of something far greater than yourself. Far deeper, and more cultured, and alive. When I was in that hospital, and subsequent hospitals, I was never alone. Phone calls, emails, visits, not a day went by without being touched by the Williston family. My parents came to see me, Nurse Autumn Roy, Peter Gunn, Sarah Sawyer, always bearing gifts beyond just their company: books for me

to read, updates from campus, with food in hand. And there was one visitor whose presence, I think, defined the character of this school. On a particularly dreary day, Kathy Noble, Dean of Students, stopped by and sat with me. And spoke with me. Suffered in that insufferable place with me. Now I’d like to see that written in her job description. She wasn’t out hunting you down. Wasn’t frantically gesturing for you to tuck in your goddamn shirt. She was there. So many people were there. I don’t think at a lot of other schools like this, that would have been the case. Because there aren’t a lot of schools like this. There aren’t a lot of graduating classes like this. I really am honored, and grateful, and feel so loved, that I can stand before you, all of you, and say a few words. In just a few minutes, we will be politely asked to leave and less politely asked not to return to this campus. Ladies and gentlemen, take your shenanigans and flee. Pack your bags with memories. Let your hearts, and your tear ducts, swell. Remember the days at Williston that held your hand, tightly. The days that welcomed you with the sunrise, as who you are. And who you wanted to be. —Harrison Winrow is a freshman at Skidmore College, where he recently performed in the play “33 Variations” by Moisés Kaufman.


In this abridged version of his 2018 Commencement speech, senior Harrison Winrow ’18 reflects on the Williston community that supported him and encouraged him to try new things.

Building Future



A revealing look at Williston’s state-of-the-art new dormitory, John Hazen White House, the centerpiece of our evolving Residential Quad BY JONATHAN ADOLPH


t’s a crisp October afternoon and the energy outside Williston’s newest dorm is starting to build.

A buzzing throng of students and faculty gather on the lawn of the new Residential Quad as Head of School Robert W. Hill III welcomes the school and assembled trustees, noting that “this is a historic day.” After the Teller Chorus leads the crowd in “Sammy,” the name above the dorm’s entrance is revealed to a rousing cheer—“John Hazen White House.” It is a fitting moment for a building deliberately designed to bring together the Williston community and—as a key step in the larger Residential Quad project—to reflect Williston’s bright future. In his remarks to the assembled Williston community, Board of Trustees Chair and honoree John Hazen White Jr. ’76 sums up the feelings of many who have helped bring this project to life. “Standing here in front of the building,” he says, “is a wonderful dream.” To appreciate the project’s full impact and appeal, let’s take a look inside the John Hazen White House, and hear from those who made this dream a reality.

“When you come back from classes, you’ll see some of the dorm parents’ kids riding bikes and scooters outside. It definitely feels like a little neighborhood.” —Benning Johnson ’22

WHITE HOUSE INSIDERS The first class of ninth graders (seen here with their dorm’s namesake) moved into John Hazen White House this fall, and were immediately impressed. “I’ve never lived somewhere that’s brand new, that no one has lived in before,” observed Benning Johnson ’22. Dorm parent and English teacher Matt Sawyer (far left) noted that the students have responded well to the building’s community-focused design features. “They really enjoy the large Common Room for hanging out or doing group study, as well as the game room in the basement. Almost every day this school year, they’ve been outside the dorm playing Kan Jam or Spikeball, or simply playing catch.”


WHAT’S IN A NAME? The chairman of Williston’s Board of Trustees since 2016, John Hazen White Jr. ’76 is “a tireless cheerleader for Williston,” notes Head of School Robert W. Hill III. In his professional life, White is the third-generation owner and CEO of Rhode Island-based Taco Comfort Solutions, a global manufacturer of heating and cooling equipment, which donated many of the mechanical elements used in the new dorm, as well as equipment and supplies for other campus projects. A noted philanthropist in his home state, he is also a trustee of the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution, where he recently established

the John Hazen White Global Manufacturing Initiative to support manufacturing advances around the world. Hill noted that Williston’s board voted to name the new dorm after White “for his generosity to Williston, both explicitly for this project but also for his lifetime of financial support.” White, who as a young man famously talked his way into Williston with the promise to give back to the school for the rest of his life, noted at the dedication ceremony that giving back is not just about money. “It’s about time. It’s about energy,” he said. “But most of all, it’s about love.”

Gifts that


We are grateful to the Williston alumni whose businesses provided important supplies, ranging from windows to water heaters. A.W. Hastings (Stephen Hoyt ’95 and Miana Hoyt Dawson ’98, P’22) Dresser-Hull Lumber & Building Supply (Dick Shields ’61, P’90, ’94, GP’20, ’21, ’21) Mestek (Trustee Stewart Reed ’66)


Omegaflex (Board Vice Chair Kevin Hoben ’65) Premier Supply Group/Northampton Plumbing Supply (David Teece ’72, P’01, ’04, ‘07) Taco Comfort (Board Chair John Hazen White Jr. ’76) Longtime friends and trustees (from left) Stewart Reed ’66, John Hazen White Jr. ’76, and Kevin Hoben ’65 helped bring this project to life.


top spots



John Hazen White House and 194 Main Street form the corner of what will eventually be a Residential Quad bordered by a third dorm to be built on Brewster Avenue (see page 28). But already the green space between the dorms is serving an important role as a community gathering space and socializing area, notes Sawyer, who is also a ninth-grade program leader. “Having the dorm adjacent to 194 Main Street—the ninth-grade girls’ dorm—has been a boon,” he notes. “The boys and girls can hang out together in the shared outdoor space and it’s been easier to create a ninthgrade boarding community.”



Below the new quad’s green lawn and sidewalks, a network of geothermal wells runs through earth that stays at a constant 58° year round. The dorm’s geothermal system exploits this for heating in winter and cooling in summer—no fossil fuels are required. The building’s domestic hot water uses solar preheaters on the roof supplemented by gas-fired water heaters, mostly to meet the demand of the morning showers required by 40 boys, notes Jeff Tannatt, Director of Projects and Planning.


Four faculty families live in the dorm’s attached four-bedroom residences, each with direct access to the main building. Inside the houses, “the living areas are fantastic,” says Sawyer. “There is a wonderful flow between the kitchen, dining room, and living room downstairs.” English teacher Kyle Hanford ’97, who lives in John Hazen White House with his wife, Lindsay, a school nurse, and their three children, ages 8, 6, and 4, agrees. His kids love their new basement— “which has been turned into the street hockey, dolls, play dough, and kitchen room”—but are also drawn to the game room in the dorm basement, with its Ping-Pong, foosball, and students. “They love the grandness of it,” says Hanford. “They love the kids. They love that their house has just expanded by probably 10,000 square feet.”

by the


In designing John Hazen White House, Boston-based Flansburgh Architects used their previous project, the adjacent 194 Main Street dorm, as the template. Given the success and popularity of that building, built in 2008, the two are nearly identical, notes Tannatt, who oversaw the construction of both. As with that of 194 Main Street, John Hazen White House’s location on the edge of campus allows it to serve as a physical transition between its Easthampton neighborhood and the Williston campus, notes lead architect David Croteau. The dorm’s design reflects this dual role: “a series of large houses that are at the scale of the neighborhood but also felt comfortable on the campus.” The neighborhood aesthetic is emphasized by the clapboard siding, which offers a pleasing contrast to the campus’s more formal brick.


Originally situated on the campus of Northampton School for Girls, where its daily ringing reminded students to take time for reflection (its inscription: “For quiet thought”), the Angelus Bell was installed on its brick terrace in 2012 and is now the centerpiece of the new Residential Quad. The bell is now rung at significant school events, reminding us still of the importance of quiet reflection.

numbers 40

Students in John Hazen White House


Faculty families


Amount of fossil fuel used by heating system


Square feet per dorm room (double)


Square feet of living space per faculty residence


60,000 Square feet of green space in the new Quad


Dorm construction cost 6 ELM TREES ARE BACK!

The class of ’62 elm stands in the center of the new Quad; a second one, given by the class of 2018, is located just behind the chapel.


Days between ground-breaking and move-in



The dorm’s Main Street door opens into a connector between the dorm and faculty residence. “This is the pizza delivery door,” explains Tannatt. Food deliveries use this door, as do visitors, service workers, or the fire department. Students use the campus exit. GAME ON

The basement game room has a pool table, foosball, and Ping-Pong, making it “a really fun spot to hang out,” notes one new freshman. BETTER BATHROOMS

The bathrooms for students on each floor feature floorto-ceiling stall doors and private showers. For visitors, there’s a single bathroom off the common room. On the second floor, a private single bathroom is also available. EASY ACCESS

The dorm’s electronic door locks open with a student’s Sammy card.



To encourage its use as a central gathering spot, the dorm’s atrium-like common room is set in the center of the building, surrounded by the student rooms. Coming from campus, a visitor is drawn to the dorm by the green space of the Quad, the sweeping front porch, and the entrance way, which then opens into the common room. “That ties the dorm back to campus and to the campus community,” explains lead architect David Croteau, “and it allows that common room to be a mixing area for both boarding students and day students.” Director of Projects and Planning Jeff Tannatt notes that the room’s size is key. “It’s designed so that the whole dorm can fit in here at once for a meeting,” he explains. Hanford appreciates the room’s size, as well. “You can have kids in one corner working on math and kids on the couch playing a video game, and it’s not overcrowded.” For students, the room—with its comfortable couches and television— provides a needed place to socialize. “It’s a good space to hang out with your friends so you are not trapped in your room,” says Benning Johnson ’22. Hunter Wilson ’21 agrees: “We’ve used the common room a lot.”


“We feel blessed to be in such a great space, and feel like we are valued. I joke that this is the nicest place I’ve ever lived in and probably will ever live in.”

John Hazen White House has eight single rooms and 16 doubles, each just under 200 square feet, all furnished with shelves, a desk, a bed, and a bureau. To determine the best size for the dorm rooms in 194 Main Street (and thus in its brother building, John Hazen White House), the architects used an ingenious crowd-sourcing approach. Taking over a section of Birch Dining Commons, they built a model dorm room out of cardboard boxes and filled it with standard furnishings. They then invited students to arrange the room to their liking. “That’s how we sized the rooms in the dorm,” Croteau explains. “They actually got smaller, once kids saw how big the room was. And we learned how kids used the room by the way they arranged the furniture.”


—English teacher and dorm parent Kyle Hanford ’97


The faculty houses are physically separate from the main dorm building but connected by dorm-parent offices, a feature that Sawyer cites as particularly helpful. “It’s a nice buffer between my family’s space and the dorm residents’ space,” he notes, “but even more so, it is a spot where I can meet with students or keep an eye out on what is happening while getting work done.” (There’s also a faculty office off the common room, shown here.) That easy access to dorm parents appeals to the students as well. “The other day, I wanted to go to town with my friends, so we just went over to Mr. Cunha’s house and asked him,” recalls Wilson. “It was really convenient.” FALL 2018 BULLETIN 27

the quad




With John Hazen White House completed, the next phase of the Residential Quad is the construction of a matching girls’ dorm to be built along Brewster Avenue. Geothermal wells placed beneath the Quad’s green space would allow the new building to be as energy efficient as its siblings.

The new Residential Quad—approved by the Board of Trustees in May 2017—advances the goals of the school’s strategic plan by centralizing student and faculty housing, creating more shared open space, and helping foster a more vibrant boarding school culture.

See video at williston-builds

SPACES AND PLACES It takes a village to build a new Residential Quad. Williston is delighted to recognize major contributors to this project with named spaces in their honor. These include:

• The Allardyce Family Office (Fred A. ’59 and Roberta W. Allardyce GP ’19, ’20, ’22, ’22, ’24) • The Booth Faculty Home (John P. ’83 and Laura Booth)


• The Bibeault Faculty Home (Gerard J. Bibeault ’37) • The Cadwgan Family Common Room (in honor of Gordon E. Cadwgan Sr. by Ruth J. and Gordon E. Cadwgan Jr. ’63)

• Gene’s Alcove (in memory of Eugene C. Gadaire ’67 by Betsy Gadaire) • The Wagman Porch (Richard Wagman and Mindy Pincus, parents of Matthew Wagman ’14)



As a 27-year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency, Robert Grenier ’72 has played a part in some of history’s most dramatic moments. He served four presidential administrations, eventually becoming the agency’s top counterterrorism figure. Find out how this has informed his perspective on American power on the next page.

Person of Interest Trust, empathy, and a little street Arabic: Robert Grenier ’72 talks about what it takes to be a CIA agent. —BY KATE LAWLESS

During his 27-year career in the Central Intelligence Agency, Robert Grenier ’72 has seen the rise of global terrorism and served on the front lines in the war against it. On September 11, 2001, he was the CIA station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan. During the months immediately following the terrorist attacks, Grenier and a small team headed up the initial CIA-led assault on the Taliban, the fundamentalist group that had been giving safe haven to 9/11 planner Osama bin Laden. Grenier wrote about this experience and the war to follow in the book 88 Days to Kandahar (Simon & Schuster). Grenier later moved from the field—working in North Africa, the Middle East, and Western Europe—back to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, eventually becoming the CIA’s top 30 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

counterterrorism official in the George W. Bush administration. Grenier had a moment in the national spotlight when he testified in the trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, who had been charged in connection with the case of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame. We talked to Grenier about his influences at Williston, how agents earn the trust of their informants, speaking pidgin-Pashto undercover, and the most important trait a spy needs (hint: It may be the opposite of what you expect). What’s changed from when you started out in the CIA during the Carter administration?

If you had a pocketful of cash and fake docu-

ments, you could be whoever you wanted. It’s now much harder because of the Internet. Technology is making it harder and harder to assume a false identity. To most technical challenges there are technical solutions, but they’re getting more expensive, and the risk of failure is great. Eventually, a spy will have to be who she says she is—which will greatly change the business. What languages do you speak?

English and French. One regret is that I didn’t take the time to perfect my Arabic. I have some street Arabic. It’s amazing what you can do with a combination of pidgin-English and pidgin-Pashto. The truth is, it’s far more important to understand the culture than to understand the language.

alumni news

What was an average day like for you as an intelligence officer?

A lot of what I was doing was working in an office. I posed as a petroleum officer, as a businessman. At one point I was processing visas at the consulate in North Africa during the day. And at night?

And at night…you try to spread yourself very thin, try to meet as many people as you can and to network as much as you can. You try to do it in a directed way. You try to put yourself in a position where you can potentially meet people who will be of intelligence interest. Then what happens?

It starts with friendship. It starts with trust. You try to understand what their motivations are. And the range of motivations is almost endless. Often there’ll be motives that an individual will admit to themselves, and other motivations they won’t admit to— even to themselves.


So you’re thinking like a friend, like a psychiatrist, like an actor—and at the same time, you have to think of the big geopolitical picture.

That’s right, you’re thinking at all these levels simultaneously, but it’s all in the context of a personal relationship. So, yes, you’re an actor in a way, you’re trying to turn yourself into the person that this other person needs. But by the same token, it’s engaging you as a human being. Even if you’re dealing with someone who’s engaged in terrorism. This person’s done some very bad things, and yet, you have to be able to understand them, to have a certain amount of empathy: why they do what they do, how they feel, and why they feel as they feel. So even if you don’t share that—and even if you strongly disapprove of what they’re doing—you have to be able to meet them at a human level. If there’s one trait that an intelligence officer has to have, it’s empathy.

And yet, there’s the myth that spies can’t make authentic connections with people. Do you have to guard yourself?

I think that’s true, and that’s what makes it so complicated. Yes, there’s a certain amount of detachment that you have to maintain. Often, we are asking someone to take some big risks. For instance, I’ve dealt with people in very sensitive positions who, had they been caught cooperating with U.S. intelligence, would certainly have been fired or imprisoned, and in some cases might have been executed. That’s a huge responsibility that you’re taking on. So, there’s a certain amount of detachment that’s necessary. What’s an indelible memory from your fieldwork days?

I once had a source who was working against a criminal, rogue regime. The source, in turn, recruited a childhood friend of his as part of his network. In the end, the childhood friend betrayed my source—reported him to the government they were working against, and then led a hit-team to intercept him. My source was shot dead in a seaside restaurant. Were there things I could have done to prevent this? Perhaps. My source made mistakes, did things I told him not to, which made him vulnerable. It’s an incident I will never forget. I was young then. But it’s a reminder: We are working against people who are playing for keeps. After your posts overseas, you returned to the states to assume leadership positions in the Bush administration’s CIA. How did your experience on the ground inform your work?

You’re talking about the classic divide between the policy makers in Washington and the people on the ground. After I came back from Afghanistan, I became CIA Director George Tenet’s point person on Iraq. I started attending meetings of the so-called deputies committee, the deputy heads of all the concerned national-security-related departments of government. And I remember what struck me, sitting in those meetings in the West Wing of the White House, was the thought

that, “Oh my God, these people think that they can actually control this. They think that sitting right here in Washington, they can control all this stuff.” They couldn’t. I knew it, and they didn’t. How can governments achieve just the right touch so that they’re influencing the right thing, but not the wrong thing?

These are not easy questions. You can be accused of doing too much and too little at the same time. These are often intractable questions and foreignpolicy making, particularly for a country with the influence of the United States, is not an easy proposition. Which Williston teachers influenced you?

Of course I remember Al Shaler. He was my crosscountry coach and I also was in his English class my junior year. And it’s hard to put into words, exactly how does that influence one? But I guess it was a freedom of thought. I remember Stephen Seybolt ’58 who was also an English teacher during that time, and I took one of his electives. I found him a very unconventional thinker. By following his classes it taught me to think in unconventional ways. To develop a comfort with exploring ideas and pursuing them. He had a big influence on me. I remember Robert Varnum ’60. He was my history teacher in my junior year. He helped me see history in a different, more three-dimensional, way. You know, when I was a kid, as kids do, I liked to read histories and biographies and I tended to see things in two dimensions. Good guys and bad guys. He helped me see history and historical characters in human dimensions. Given all you’ve seen over your career, are you hopeful about the future?

Absolutely. I believe there has been progress. The world is becoming a better place, but we need to be concerned about what happens elsewhere. To quote John Kennedy’s Secretary of State Dean Rusk, “Other nations have interests. The United States has responsibilities.” From the end of World War II, the U.S. has emerged with preeminent power. We are obligated to use it wisely. FALL 2018 BULLETIN 31

alumni news

INSPIRED TASTE The beautiful food of chef and entrepreneur Laura Bowman ’13 makes us very, very hungry. —BY CATHERINE NEWMAN


hen Laura Bowman ’13 arrived at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) straight out of Williston, she already had exactly what she needed to succeed at the highly regarded cooking school in Hyde Park, New York. Not the knife or sauce-making skills, which she would learn there. Not the culinary language or the restaurant experience, which the students coming from the trade schools and hospitality industry were steeped in. But the drive. “Williston encourages you to take risks, pursue passions, and be open-minded to different outcomes,” she explains. “It gives you confidence in your skills, your leadership. I don’t have any fear now, owning my own 32 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

business—even though there’s no safety net.” Her own business is Blue Door Gatherings, a small-events catering company that she opened in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in the spring of 2018. Visit her website ( at your peril, and only if her stunning cheese and charcuterie boards, her baby roast potatoes with quail eggs, her meatball sliders on cheesy gougères aren’t going to flood the rest of your day’s concentration with craving. In addition to her work as a chef, Bowman is a skilled photographer (her events photographs are deeply delicious), a Napa-trained sommelier, a de facto business manager, and her own publicist. She’s also in the process of building a commissary

space in an old paper mill, where she’s hoping to move her business next year. “I wear a lot of hats,” she says, laughing a little exhaustedly. “But my day never looks the same, which was the most important part for me about curating my own business—that it would allow me to showcase a lot of different interests of mine.” She credits Williston with this ability, too: “We were always balancing school, sports, social activities. That balance becomes very real-life when you own your own business.” She moved back to the area only after finishing her culinary degree, getting her business degree (also at CIA), and living between the Hudson Valley and the Napa Valley, traveling intermittently

alumni news

“ Going through the Culinary Institute as a female culinarian, I was definitely outnumbered, and I’ve definitely worked mostly in male-dominated kitchens. But I think we’re about to see a real sea change.”


Bowman’s menus feature in-season ingredients, such as these quail eggs on new potatoes.

to Northern France. “Oh, my God, Napa! The year-round growing season!” she reminisces. “Everything is beautiful and tastes perfect. But you get spoiled.” Here, in the place where she grew up cooking with her great-grandmother and her grandmother—“both excellent home bakers”—she’s got to make the best of every season, the way hearty New England folk have always done. “There’s more pressure here—in a good way. You’ve got these perfect tomatoes, but just for a little while. These perfect apples, these Concord grapes. You have to work a little more to preserve them—or just celebrate them while they’re here.” Plus, the area gives her a chance to support

other women entrepreneurs. “Going through CIA as a female culinarian, I was definitely outnumbered,” she recalls. “And I’ve definitely worked mostly in male-dominated kitchens.” Now she’s able to support local women-owned business—like Small Oven in Easthampton, where she buys bread—and she’s hiring young entrepreneurial-spirited women, giving them a place to work where they can “grow and learn and someday achieve their own aspirations in the field.” Her chosen career can be a notoriously challenging, even oppressive one for women. “But I think,” she says—her sparkling optimism and intelligence amplifying the prediction— “we’re about to see a real sea change.” FALL 2018 BULLETIN 33


Jon Lappin ’88 keeps his father’s legacy alive with a musical mentoring foundation. In 2013, the Palm Beach Pops, an orchestra dedicated to the Great American Songbook for more than two decades, was at a crossroads. Its founder, Bob Lappin—a successful businessman, talented conductor, and pianist, who performed with and welcomed such stars as Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, and Frank Sinatra Jr.—had died. Jon Lappin took the helm and honored his father’s legacy, addressing the erosion of culture by creating a foundation to help the next generation keep the music playing. The Legacy Foundation provides funding for lessons, instruments, camps, and other programming for talented South Florida students who otherwise would not be able to afford their musical aspirations. Over the last two years, the foundation has funded approximately 70 students with nearly $150,000. For Lappin, whose career as a chief executive included posts at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, his green ecommerce firm Greenerful, and his former New York advertising agency, this work is more personal. Now he keeps alive the work of his father by preparing future stars. “A community is not a community without culture,” Lappin says. “Giving is the greatest gift of all, wouldn’t you agree? Willy instills those values.”

Myths in Metal

Sefik Kabas ’81 was born into a family of artisans in Turkey, but his jewelry is distinctly his own. His mythologically inspired Taru pieces—handcrafted from silver, gold, and precious stones—are intended to “preserve ancient tradition and to creatively celebrate the connection of the human and animal worlds,” he notes on his website. After Williston, Kabas studied sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and glass blowing at Edinburgh College of Art, spending his summers working in his family’s jewelry studio in Istanbul. He opened his Taru Gallery in Istanbul in 2015, offering elaborately detailed rings, bracelets, and more. See more of his designs at

After three years of record-setting success at Harvard University, Gabby Thomas ’15 announced in October that she will forgo her senior season to run professionally, signing a deal with athletic apparel maker New Balance. She’ll stay at Harvard to complete her degree in neurobiology but will now be vying for a spot on the U.S. national team and competing at international meets. Thomas narrowly missed qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in the 200-meter event.

This Just In: Frank Vana Jr. ’81 Frank Vana Jr. ’81 won his record tenth Massachusetts Mid-Amateur Championship golf title in September, furthering his status as the winningest golfer in the state’s history. Vana, of Marlboro Country Club, bested two other players in a sudden-death playoff round at Plymouth Country Club. In addition to his mid-amateur titles, Vana has two amateur championships, two four-ball championships, and one father-son championship. Mackenzie Possee ’15 Recent UCLA graduate (and former editor-in-chief of the Daily Bruin) Mackenzie Possee ’15 is now working as a photo editor for the National Football League in Los Angeles. She works with NFL media staff to curate and edit photos for publication on the league’s website and social media platforms. A onetime Bruin photo editor, Possee was the first editor-in-chief in more than a decade to be promoted from that department. Possee got her start in photography and journalism at Williston, working for The Willistonian and photographing games.

Kabas’ jewelry features designs based on the falcon, owl, dragon, ram, and (as we might expect from a former Wildcat) the lion.

Zoe (Neal) Francois ’85 The seventh book in Zoe Francois’ hugely popular bread-in-fiveminutes-a-day series, Holiday and Celebration Bread in Five Minutes a Day, written with Jeff Hertzberg, M.D., was released on November 6. “This is the bread book I have always wanted to write,” says Francois, whose previous titles have sold a combined 750,000 copies, “because I got to bring my pastry chef ways to the pages, with all the sweet and decadent holiday breads from around the world.”




alumni news





or a recent exhibition at New York’s prestigious Eykyn Maclean gallery, Neil Grayson ’85 produced a series of paintings he calls Industrial Melanism. Executed in oil and metal on canvas in a trademark style the artist developed through years of experimentation, the shimmering works explore his longstanding fascination with evolutionary biology and themes of transformation and spontaneous self-reinvention. “Grayson purveys the deep and infinite realm of interconnectedness,” wrote a dazzled ArtNews reviewer. His paintings “appear to be in continual motion as light glints off their surfaces.” Currently collaborating with Van Cleef & Arpels on an installation for the luxury brand’s flagship Fifth Avenue store, Grayson lives in New York City with his 14-year-old son, Maddox. We asked him to tell us more about his work. What is Industrial Melanism?

The title of the show refers to an event that took place during the Industrial Revolution, when Europe turned black because of all the coal being burned. There was an insect called the European peppered moth, which came in a white variant and a black one. White moths were much more common, but in the new soot-covered landscape they stood out to predators. Within a human lifetime, they practically disappeared. The birds ate them all. Only the black ones remained. The change in coloration is called industrial melanism. My paint-


Grayson in his studio in Manhattan, where he has lived and worked since graduating from Williston. Behind him hangs a portrait of his father, Herbert, which Neil painted as a teenager.

alumni news


ings are based on the idea that major changes, events that take things to a new level, happen spontaneously and unpredictably. Nature produces so many mutations, screw-ups, outliers, all these things that occur and seem to be totally dysfunctional. But every once in a while, a new species is created because the screw-up happens to be suited to survive. For me Industrial Melanism is a way of seeing an outlier like the black peppered moth as a necessity in nature’s experiment with new ways of being. Some oddball kid ends up being the genius who cures cancer, the unforeseeable person who makes the breakthrough that changes everything. That’s what my work is all about. Like the peppered moth, the paintings in your Industrial Melanism series actually change color before a viewer’s eyes. How did you create that effect?

different. I love palladium. It has a different tone and a different reflective quality than, say, platinum, though at first they might look very, very similar. You really have to know the content of each metal, you have to know the mix. I paint the metals into oil on the surface of the canvas and allow three to six months for oxidation. As I’m working, I’m imagining what the painting will look like in half a year. All the depth and all the three-dimensionality of the paintings comes from the different contents of the metals. Their reflective qualities cause the images to change from light to dark. From one angle, the moths appear as all black and as you walk across the painting, two feet, one foot, they become all white. They just change as you move. It’s all about the light. When did you become interested in making art?

I use metal as a pigment and work it into the oil paint. All metals have unique color characteristics and reflective qualities. They also have different oxidation rates. Anything below 22 karats oxidizes and changes color. If I use a 12-karat gold, it will over time change to a particular color. I know what the new color will be, because I’ve oxidized them all. Every metal is

I’ve been obsessed with drawing since I was 5 years old. Regular kids have typical obsessions: games, sports, cartoons. When I was a kid, I was obsessed with Rembrandt. It wasn’t that I was so interested in Renaissance history. I was simply fascinated by his handling of light and dark, chiaroscuro. The light and dark in his paintings seemed so three-dimensional. That’s the aspect I loved.

Top image: 16 Birds, 2018, silver, white gold, palladium, oil on canvas, 72x56 in. Bottom image: Hindsite, 2000, silver, charcoal, pigment on paper, 26x16 in.

While still in your teens, you caused a small sensation in the art world by painting a reproduction of Rembrandt’s self-portrait from 1660 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


alumni news

Portrait of the artist as a young man: 18-year-old Neil poses with his copy of Rembrandt’s 1660 self-portrait at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He completed it over a six-month period.

The museum said it was the best copy of an Old Master ever made.

I had read somewhere that the Met offered a special program where you could ask permission to paint from their collection. It’s in their mandate as a museum, one of these archaic things they have to allow, and I thought it would be interesting to try. So I asked and they let me. I was there for about six months on weekdays during museum hours, people standing behind watching as I worked. About a million tourists asking if they could hold my brush and take a picture. It’s not the kind of thing you do if you have stage fright. How did the exercise help you as an artist?

When you stand in front of a canvas, you’re like a detective at a crime scene. You are seeing the recorded history of what the artist did. You imagine what happened in 1660, and you use all your sci38 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

ence and math, all your analytical skills, to try to recreate what Rembrandt must have done. You’re deconstructing the original painting in order to understand how it was made. I wanted to master the techniques, take everything from Rembrandt that I could, and then move forward with contemporary work. When you’re young, your brain is open and you learn things rapidly. From 13 to 18 is your window of opportunity. Was art a big part of your Williston experience?

I think the only class I flunked at Williston was art. The class I loved most was physics with Ray Brown. That’s where it felt like my mind was operating in high gear. It was like intellectual play. You could feel your brain working at great capacity with ease. I did a portrait of Ray Brown in charcoal, which I gave to him as a gift. But other than that I didn’t really do much art. I was the kind of kid who would flunk art and then get straight A’s in physics.

We often talk in a binary way about art and science. You’re either a humanities person or a numbers one. Is this a false dichotomy?

It’s like saying your left side hates your right side. That’s why I love chiaroscuro, because it represents the polarity. It’s not just light and dark, it’s left and right, representational and abstract. Art and science are not opposed. Art stands on the shoulders of science. Wherever science goes, art has to be that extra thing that taps into the emotional part, the human part. If hard science is on one side and poetry is on the other, then there is a pendulum swinging between them, and I want to swing as far in both directions as possible. SEE MORE OF GRAYSON’S WORK Web: Instagram: @neilgraysonnyc Gallery: grayson

BEYOND POLITICS New trustee Susan Jackson ’80 brought a corporate background to the Bermudian Parliament. BY KATE LAWLESS



t was 131 years ago that the great-grandfather of Susan Jackson ’80 was elected to the Bermuda Parliament, only the second black Bermudian to be elected to the body. Her father and mother both held seats in the legislature. And in 2012, Jackson followed in their footsteps, riding a wave of support for the newly formed One Bermuda Alliance party. She’s been an advocate for people with disabilities, and she wrestles with difficult issues, such as immigration. She also works for HSBC Bank Bermuda Limited as head of marketing for commercial banking. We wanted to learn more. SECOND ACT Jackson entered the workforce after her children, now 24 and 27, left home. It gave her “quite a capacity to commit to public service as well as the corporate world.”

PASSIONATE DEBATER As the whip of her party, Jackson has to think strategically and debate passionately and persuasively,

alumni news

but the game of politics leaves her flat. “I try to stay out of the political piece of it because it can get vicious.” She’s learned, though, that while debates can get heated, her colleagues remain friendly.

BERMUDA’S FUTURE In Bermuda, as in the U.S., immigration is a hot-button issue. Competition for limited land— Bermuda is only 21 miles long and three miles wide—can be fierce. ”It’s been a really hard sell to convince this aging population that we need to attract younger people from abroad to keep the economy healthy by having people who are working and establishing new businesses.”

MORE TO GIVE Jackson plans to stay in Parliament for the foreseeable future. Elected to her second five-year term in 2017, she says she is still a political neophyte. “I know that I have a huge contribution to make in the political environment.”

SHE PERSISTED That commitment to see something through was one of the skills she learned at Williston. A geometry student in the class of Dan Carpenter, she was struggling with the material and shared her concern. She will never forget his response: “Susan, just come to class every single day, sit in the front row in the center and you’ll pass this. You’re going to make it.” And sure enough, it worked. She has fond memories of walking into Carpenter’s class and seeing him covered in chalk, “happy to see everybody and raring to go.”

A WIDE PERSPECTIVE As an international student, coming to a New England boarding school exposed Jackson to a broad range of perspectives, another influential experience. “I learned to have a respectful appreciation for other people’s opinions.” As a lawmaker with a close relationship to her 1,200 constituents, she has found that this openness is essential.

THE WILLISTON PROMISE As a new trustee, Jackson is excited about the direction the school is taking. “I want to make sure we stay on a really healthy and prosperous path.” FALL 2018 BULLETIN 39

alumni news


Naturalist and boat captain Sarah McCullagh ’10 educates visitors about the orcas of the Pacific Northwest —by jonathan adolph At the age of 3, Sarah McCullagh ’10 watched Free Willy, the 1993 film that introduced a generation of children to the power, intelligence, and social sophistication of orcas. Now, as a lead naturalist, vessel coordinator, and whale watch boat captain in Friday Harbor, Washington, she gets to witness those same remarkable qualities firsthand. “When you see orcas, it’s hard not to be excited,” says McCullagh, who earned her bachelor’s degree in wildlife and conservation biology from the University of New Hampshire before being hired for what she describes as her dream job with San Juan Outfitters in 2014. “And I don’t care who you are. I’ve had big burly guys just squealing. These are stunning animals.” Which made this past summer all the more heartbreaking for McCullagh and the Pacific Northwest whale research community. Amid much anticipation, Tahlequah, a 20-year-old female in the Seattle area’s critically endangered Southern Resident orca group, gave birth to a calf, the first born to that group in three years. Then, roughly a half-hour later, the baby died. For the next 17 days, Tahlequah stayed with the body, pushing it to the surface and carrying it along with her, behavior that attracted international press attention. “It was truly horrible to see that mom and that baby,” recalls McCullagh, who along



3 THINGS WE DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT ORCAS with other whale boat captains purposely avoided the whale, but still occasionally came across her. At the same time, to researchers, the mother whale’s actions raised profound questions about the nature of animal grief. “For a long time, biologists have been discouraged from using anthropocentric terminology to describe orcas and their behavior. How can we know that they are grieving? How can we know they are happy? How can we know that they are experiencing any of these emotions? And today we find ourselves in this very interesting position. To accurately describe their biology, we actually need to delve into those emotions. It may not be something that we are comfortable with, or that we know for sure, but there’s no other way to describe that behavior.” Seen more broadly, the death of Tahlequah’s baby reflects a greater tragedy unfolding in the waters around Seattle and the San Juan islands, an area known as the Salish Sea. The Southern Resident orcas—a population composed of three extended families with a specific food preference, language, and social structure—live exclusively on salmon, a prey in decline from dams, pollution, and overfishing. “These whales need fish and there’s none of that for them,” McCullagh says. “They are working harder and harder to find that fish and getting skinnier and skinnier by the day.” At present, the Southern Residents have just 74 members left, and last year two others died. “Watching these whales and getting to know them really as individuals—I mean, I talk about them like they are my nieces and nephews—and knowing that they are not doing well, it’s hard,” McCullagh acknowledges. “But I know that I am doing as much as I possibly can to help them by educating people. If I have even three people off one of my boats talk to someone else about the Southern Residents and the plight of the salmon, that has a huge rippling effect. Education is really the gateway to conservation.” One of McCullagh’s early inspirations for appreciating nature and the outdoors was her mother, Williston math teacher Martha McCullagh (her father, Chuck, is the school’s Chief Financial Officer). “My mom was always the one saying, ‘Get outside!’” she recalls. Every summer we would camp with her for one to two weeks. I learned everything from trailering boats to roasting marshmallows to building fires, from her. We weren’t an inside family. That was

the expectation and she set that for us.” Amid the sadness of the orca story, McCullagh has also been witness to a reason for hope. In recent years, her area has seen the return of humpback whales, a species that McCullagh studied off Maui several years ago when she spent six months working with the Pacific Whale Foundation. Once considered commercially extinct, humpbacks have recovered thanks to legislation and other protections, she says, “and now we think there may be as many as 26,000 in the North Pacific. They have been a conservation success story.” Her first season on the water, McCullagh says, she saw perhaps five or six different humpbacks. This year, her boats saw more than 40. From this, she draws a lesson for the orcas. “Any voices that these whales can get right now are important,” she says. “That’s where I’m at. They need as many advocates as they can possibly get.”

(But Sarah Did!)

As a naturalist on a whale boat, Sarah McCullagh provides answers to all sorts of questions—“from how many people live in the San Juan Islands to really complex questions about whale physiology or mammalian dive reflex.” Here, she offers insights into the remarkable world of orcas and the challenges they face.


Orcas are highly social animals that live their entire lives in extended families led by females, which have an expected lifespan of 80 years (males live as long as 60 years). “They stay basically a body length away from each other for 50-plus years.”


Orcas live in genetically distinct groups, or ecotypes, that feed on different prey, communicate in distinct languages, and do not interbreed. Two orca ecotypes live in the Salish Sea area near Seattle: the Southern Residents and Biggs Killer Whales. Worldwide there are 10 different types, “with some genetic researchers suggesting there may be as many as 30.”


The Southern Resident group is considered a critically endangered population in the United States and endangered in Canada. The group now has just 74 members, grouped in three pods labeled J, K, and L (hence Tahlequah’s research name, J35). They eat exclusively salmon, in particular, the increasingly rare Chinook. “They are so specialized that their presence, absence, and abundance is totally dictated by the presence, absence, and abundance of that food.” FALL 2018 BULLETIN 41

BEHIND THE L The amazing work of photographer

The list of what Jim Hollander ’68 has photographed is mind-boggling. The Olympics. The running of the bulls in Pamplona. Conflicts in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Somalia, Ethiopia, and the Middle East. Three different pope’s visits to the Holy Land. And that’s just for starters. An award-winning photojournalist, Hollander has held chief photographer roles in the Middle East for UPI, Reuters, and the European Pressphoto Agency. In addition to taking riveting photos of international news, he also captures spectacular shots of his passions, which include horseback riding and, especially, anything to do with bulls, bullfighting, and Spain. Hollander has attended the famed Fiesta de San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain, a total of 50 times, and his photos make you feel that you are there, with 2,000 pounds of charging, eye-rolling bull just feet away from you. Hollander lives outside Jerusalem with his wife, Rina, a New York Times photographer and documentary filmmaker. He credits his career path to the early influences of his father, Gino, a painter, as well as other role models he met at Williston, including Barry Moser, who oversaw his independent study in abstract painting, and John Cohen, who introduced him to “the wonders of black and white film photography.” “I’ve been on the path-lesstaken my entire working life,” he says, “and despite sharp turns, roller coaster drops, and icy, slippery heights, it’s been a fun ride.” We’re delighted that he’s shared some of that ride with us in the photos and stories on these pages.


Jim Hollander ’68

Muslims flock to a waterfall in Sakhne Park, known to Israelis also as Gan HaShlosha National Park (Park of the Three), near Kibbutz Beit Alpha in northern Israel. “I took this photo in late August 2018, during the high Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, the holiest of the two Muslim holidays. The weather had been very hot—over 100 degrees for weeks during the summer. I was looking for a chance to show Arabs and Jews together, a


photographic theme I am always trying to capture in this country, so I decided to visit Sakhne Park. Sure enough, it was jammed-packed with both Israeli Arabs and Palestinians from the West Bank. There’s a wonderful long waterfall from one pond to another, and I decided to shoot with a medium-format digital camera and slow exposure to get the movement of the splashing, falling water.”

alumni news

4.18.18 Sevilla. #theworldontheirphones #162. At the #bullfight. Another #flower. A #rose. #sevilla #feriaDeAbril #espana #spain #AuroraMuñoz #EmilioMuñoz “This photo is part of my ongoing photo essay on Instagram called “The World On Their Phones.” I have been interested in how cellphones have totally changed our way of life—not just in America, but all over the world. This particular shot is from the bullring in Sevilla, Spain. As people were entering to take their seats for a bullfight, I noticed a beautiful young woman and waited until the crowd separated for just a second to shoot this one frame. She put her phone away, and after I posted it on Instagram, I discovered through a comment that she is Aurora Muñoz, the daughter of a very famous ex-bullfighter and current TV announcer, Emilio Muñoz. As of fall 2018, I have posted 216 photos to this photo essay hashtag. These are all just moments I have happened upon in daily life and travels. Nothing is set up or organized. Once you start looking, all you can see are people on cellphones.”


Friends of Rabbi Itamar Ben Gal embrace as they make their way to the cemetery after elegies during the rabbi’s funeral in the West Bank settlement of Bracha. “For this assignment, I was a pool photographer for the Foreign Press Association in Israel. That means one photographer covers for all the others, which happens in situations where there is limited space (such as submarines) or where it’s important to limit the number of photographers for various reasons. At this event, the FPA did not want 15 photographers upsetting a very emotional event. I was mostly photographing from a roof looking down on the mourning family members and friends, but then happened across this moment when walking to the cemetery on the outskirts of the settlement. I saw these people embracing, then turned and shot three quick frames. One other agency’s photographer, on my right, had a noisier camera, and in an instant, that noise interrupted the moment and it was gone.”


alumni news Spanish bullfighter José Garrido makes a pass during the Feria de Abril bullfighting event held at La Maestranza bullring in Seville, Spain. “A friend gave me a front-row seat right behind where the bullfighters’ capes are placed. It was a great seat, but for a photographer, a little too close. All the bullfighters and helpers are right in front, and it’s demanding to work around so many moving figures. I had just gotten a medium-format digital camera and was hoping to make nice portraits of the matadors, but they kept moving too much. It was getting dark, so instead I concentrated on capturing the whole scene, showing the ambience, a pass with the bull, a helper in the foreground, and the architecture of the ring.”

“ This self-portrait is from 2002, when I hiked with US soldiers during Operation Anaconda in the mountains of Afghanistan. They were searching for caves and Osama Bin Laden. It was above treeline and sunny, but about to get freezing cold at sunset. It was one of the coldest nights of my life. ”

To see more of Jim’s work, follow him on Instagram (@jimhollanderpix). FALL 2018 BULLETIN 45

We’ve got a lot of great events going on this year and are looking forward to seeing you across the country— and here on campus. Join us to gather with old friends and make new connections. Network with alumni and parents from your area and find out what’s happening at Williston.

DECEMBER 6.........................Boston Holiday Party DECEMBER 13........................Western MA Holiday Party DECEMBER 18........................NYC Holiday Party JANUARY 5............................Alumni Basketball Game JANUARY 5............................Alumni Hockey Game MARCH*..................................Florida Receptions MAY*........................................Washington, D.C., Reception JUNE 7-9.................................Reunion Weekend *Date(s) TBD. Check for details.

For more information about times and locations for these events, visit the alumni events page at Check the website often to learn more about special “pop-up” events for alumni, parents, and friends in 2018-19.




The campus buzzed with excitement at May’s Reunion weekend, as 262 alumni and their guests gathered under the main tent to celebrate their time at the Williston Northampton School. Meanwhile, across Park Street on the head of school’s lawn, this smaller tent hosted the 50th Reunion class reception, where 53 classmates from 1968 reminisced and clinked glasses under the flowering dogwood.




ELM TREE SOCIETY LUNCHEON Members of the Elm Tree So-

ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME It was a family affair as C. Todd Francis

ciety celebrated legacy support during a special lunch, with guest speaker Trustee Rich Wagman P’14.

’83, second from left, was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He’s here with his three sons and father, former coach Rick Francis, second from right.


IN LOVING MEMORY Children of the late beloved math teacher

Eastworks building, a converted mill, alumni from all classes mixed and mingled Friday night in a spirited Reunion kick-off.

Dan Carpenter stand by a tree planted in his honor. From left, Jennifer Carpenter Reid ’77, Dan Carpenter Jr. ’68, and Debbie Jerome ’73.

ALUMNI RECEPTION The enthusiasm was contagious as alumni

ALUMNI AWARDS Teacher and activist Johnaé Strong ’08, winner of

gathered under the tent for conversation, dinner, dancing, and, of course, photo booth fun. Good times.

the Trailblazer Award, was one of several alumni honored by Williston for their contributions to Williston and to the greater world community.



alumni events

GALLERY OPENING In a first for Reunion, the paintings and photographs of alumni artists were featured in a special Grubbs Gallery exhibit. See photographs from Jim Hollander ’68 on page 42.

50TH CLASS DINNER Fifty years after Williston, the class of 1968

SIP ’N’ PAINT Donning smocks, Wildcats took advantage of the

MIXOLOGY CLASS Bartenders know that a good drink involves

painting studio’s filtered light to slow down, enjoy a glass of wine, and get creative among old friends.

more than just the proper proportions of spirits and mixers. As these alumnae show, you gotta add love.

CLASS PHOTOS The great class of ’88—among others—squeezed

DANCE PARTY SCHMOOZEFEST Golden oldies? Classic hits?

onto the dance floor for that once-every-five-years class photo. It’s easy to smile when you’ve got your schoolmates around you.

Unfathomable new songs we’ve never heard of? No matter. Alumni from classes spanning six decades proved they could dance to anything.

returned to campus in record numbers (see page 54), and members were soon sharing memories and catching up.




Athletic Hall of Fame This year’s inductees—honored by the school community at Reunion—were difference-makers in the pool, at the rink, on the playing field, and in the training room. After Williston, their remarkable athletic achievements continued, and today many are coaches, leaders, and advocates for their sports.



During her time at Williston, Molly Matthews Conner was an accomplished three-sport varsity athlete in field hockey, ice hockey, and lacrosse. She was a leading scorer for Coach Ann Pickrell’s field hockey team, captain and MVP of the girls lacrosse team, and captain and MVP of ice hockey during both her junior and senior years, scoring 76 points during her career and earning the 1988 Alumnae Award. While at Williston, she played for the Connecticut Polar Bears club hockey team, which won a national championship in 1986. Attending the University of New Hampshire on a hockey scholarship, she was part of two ECAC-


winning teams—then the highest team accomplishment in women’s hockey. Conner continues to play ice hockey, helping lead her senior team to the 2006 and 2011 Massachusetts state championship. 2. 1983 GIRLS SWIMMING AND DIVING TEAM

Led by head coach Thomas Crain and assistant Mary Hocken, this team finished with a perfect 11−0 record, becoming Williston’s first undefeated team in that sport and setting eight school records. Captain Wendy Libby’s diving record lasted until 2002, and she remains on Williston’s Honor Roll, along with fellow diver Mary Ellen Bull. The record set by the 200 medley relay


team (Vicky Nitardy ’84, Michelle Kennedy ’85, Karen Whitaker, and Melissa Peters ’84) still stands. Individual records were also set that year by Laura Morsman ’87 (100 freestyle), Kennedy (100 backstroke), and Nitardy (100 butterfly, 200 individual medley, and 500 freestyle). The team finished third at the highly competitive CISSAC swim championships, taking second in the 400 freestyle relay, the 100 butterfly (Nitardy), and diving (Libby). 3. JAY GRANT

Jay Grant was hired in 1978 as Williston’s first full-time athletic trainer and soon proved to be a leader in his profession, thanks to his calm demeanor, expertise, and rapport with



student-athletes. As assistant athletic director to Rick Francis for 22 years, and then to Mark Conroy for 16, Grant oversaw the department’s record-keeping and administration, managed the equipment and uniforms, and supported the program’s coaches. As a coach himself, Grant led the boys ice hockey team to Williston’s first and only NEPSAC hockey championship. In the latter part of his career, he introduced Impact Concussion testing to the Williston community, putting the school at the forefront of this important initiative. Upon his retirement, Grant and his wife, Betsy, received the school’s Distinguished Service Award. In his remarks at his induction, Grant thanked the students: “Because of you, what I did never really felt like a job.” 4. C. TODD FRANCIS ’83

As the son of longtime athletic director and coach Rick Francis, Todd Francis grew up on campus but soon made his own name for himself in Williston athletics. A three-sport athlete, he won the Denman Award, serving as captain (and earning MVP) of his father’s 1982 football team, playing hockey for Coach Bob Shaw, and—in the sport where he would achieve his greatest success—captaining the


lacrosse team as goalie and earning All-New England honors. As a senior at Cornell, he earned All-Ivy and All-American honors as a longstick midfielder and helped lead his team to the national championship game. After a 10-year career playing professional indoor lacrosse for the Boston Blazers, he followed in his father’s footsteps, coaching U.S. national indoor lacrosse teams and at Newburyport High School, in Massachusetts. He is now head lacrosse coach at Plant High School in Tampa, Florida, where over the past nine seasons he has led the team to a 123−38 record. 5. ARCHER BRYANT ’68

As a senior, Archer Bryant received the Denman Award and was named Frank Dorsey Most Valuable Player for his performance as a lacrosse midfielder. After Williston, he coached youth hockey, and he continues to play hockey today, leading his team to league championships four out of the last five years. Bryant says throughout his life he has drawn upon his experiences as a student-athlete at Williston Academy. As a cinematographer in the motion picture business, he discovered that the leadership and teamwork skills he had learned on the fields and in the classroom carried over to his


work on film sets. His experience as an exchange student gave him an appreciation for the benefits of exploring other countries and cultures. Now a licensed captain, Bryant and his wife, Jeanne, have sailed extensively around the globe. 6. MELISSA BOURDON ’03

Melissa Bourdon was a strong contributor to two outstanding Williston soccer teams, including the school’s first-ever New England prep school champions in 2002. In the spring, she was the leading scorer on Coach Dave Koritkoski’s girls water polo team, earning All-NEPSAC honors. But Bourdon, a native Canadian, had come to Williston to pursue her love of ice hockey, specifically to be a goaltender. She was a team MVP both seasons, and her play earned her recognition as one of the top goalies in New England girls prep hockey, as well as the 2003 Alumnae Award and a full scholarship to the University of New Hampshire. Starting all four years at UNH, she achieved a record of 86−19−1, was a four-time Hockey East Goaltender of the Year and three-time All-New England goaltender, became the school record holder in wins and shutouts, and led her top-ranked UNH to a Frozen Four appearance in 2006. Today,


Bourdon is a marathon runner, qualifying for Boston six times. 7. REX AUBREY ’53

When Rex Aubrey arrived in the fall of 1952, he already held a number of swimming national records in his native Australia and had just been a finalist at the 1952 Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. Not surprisingly, his success would continue at Williston under legendary coach Wilmot Babcock. Aubrey was ranked the top prep school swimmer in the United States for both the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle, while also anchoring the record-setting 200 freestyle relay team. Later, at Yale, he became an NCAA champion, claiming individual titles in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events, along with the 400 freestyle relay. At the age of 21, Aubrey’s time of 49 seconds flat in the 100 freestyle made him the holder of the world, American, and NCAA records. After graduating from Yale, he remained in the sport, coaching swimming and directing clubs in Omaha, Nebraska, and Detroit, Michigan.





Alumni Awards Williston alumni continue to make their mark on the school community—and on the greater world beyond. At the Alumni Awards ceremony at Reunion, this year’s recipients of the school’s highest honors were recognized for their work as volunteers, change makers, activists, and steadfast supporters of Williston and its ideals.



As a student, and in later life, Jim Cain showed that he was willing to go all in for Williston. He was on the football, lacrosse, and wrestling teams, while serving on the Press Club, Student Council, as “Y” Cabinet President, Vice-Chairman of the Steering Committee, member of the Honor Committee, and treasurer of UMAC. After graduating from Harvard, he began his 40-year career in investment banking, but even as a busy CEO he volunteered with the Alumni Council, the Williston Northampton Fund, and as a member of reunion gift committees, receiving the Margaret French Eastman award in 2004 for his efforts.


As a trustee from 1995 to 2005, Cain was Board Treasurer, chair of the Finance Committee, and a member of the Development, Planning Executive, and Capital Leadership committees. More recently, he played a key role on this year’s 50th Reunion Committee, demonstrating again the commitment to Williston honored by this preeminent service award. 2. ALUMNI TRAILBLAZER AWARD: JOHNAÉ STRONG ’08

Johnaé Strong is an organizer, educator, healer, and writer. She is currently the coordinator for Grassroots Education Movement, an education-justice coalition in Chicago, and a founding member and former co-chair of the Chicago chapter of BYP100,



a political organization for young black people dedicated to social, political, and economic justice. As a writer, Strong—who has a master’s in teaching and a BS in international studies from the University of Chicago—focuses on topics of education and social justice, such as her recent Nation article outlining the costs of police brutality settlements in Chicago. She received this year’s Alumni Trailblazer award in recognition of her work and its alignment with the Williston Northampton School’s guiding principles of living with purpose, passion, and integrity. The award honors alumni under the age of 40 for their professional achievements, contributions to their profession and/or community, and promise of continued success in the future. 3. FOUNDERS AWARD: LEW RABINOVITZ ’53

A cheerleader for the football and soccer teams as a Williston student, Lew Rabinovitz has never stopped being an enthusiastic school booster. In the 65 years since his graduation, he has consistently made an annual donation to the Williston Northampton Fund. A past Alumni Council member, he joined the Board of Trustees in 2008. In his yearbook, Rabinovitz is described as a “top-notch student” who was “never off honors in his four years at Williston.” In addition to his academic pursuits, he was a news editor for The Willistonian, secretary of Student Council, a member of the glee club and science club, chair-



man of his Graduation Committee, and manager of the varsity basketball team. He received this year’s Founders Award—given to alumni for their loyalty, devotion, and service to the school—in recognition of his tireless service, generous philanthropic commitment, and enduring loyalty to Williston.

Award—in recognition of his loyalty, generosity of time and spirit, and tireless efforts in support of Williston Northampton—he received the Eminent Service Award in 1979 and the Margaret Eastman French Award in 1978.


The Williston Northampton Award recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to their professions, shown a commitment to professional growth, or are recognized for leadership in their fields. As vice president of The Conservation Fund, a national nonprofit land trust, Tom Duffus has helped conserve more than 542,000 acres of forests, farms, trails, and wilderness, from the Great Plains to Maine’s forested coast. A professional in the land conservation field since 1985, with a BS in environmental studies from St. Lawrence University and a Master of Forest Science degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, he has raised well over $200 million in private and public funds for land conservation. Duffus says that Williston gave him the confidence to explore his intellectual curiosity and passions. Rather than chase money, he decided to pursue a career that nurtured those interests. Now, in the face of climate change, his work helps address one of the world’s most pressing issues—the loss of the forestland and habitat that sustains life, clean water, and healthy economies.

Among his many other affiliations as a student, Ted Babcock was a member of the “Y” Cabinet, which sought to “provide aid for different organizations, underdeveloped countries, and three major religious faiths.” It was an early sign of what would become his later work. After earning his BA from Michigan and an MBA from Harvard, he went on to graduate from The General Theological Seminary in 2001 and in 2009 received his Th.D from the Graduate Theological Foundation at Oxford University. Ordained as a deacon in 2001 and ordained a priest in 2002, Babcock engaged in ecumenical work that included community organizing and pastoral care for senior citizens. Babcock has been an active volunteer for Williston, most recently as the chair of the 50th Reunion Gift committee, working with his classmates to raise a record-breaking gift of more than $300,000 from 82 percent of the class. He has also served as a Trustee, an Alumni Council member, and Williston Northampton Fund volunteer. Prior to receiving this year’s Daniel and Jane Carpenter




The Reunion Committee (from left): Mark Griggs, Kent “Mole” Haberle, Don Klock, Chip Keeney, Paul Wainwright, Jim Cain Original photo on opposite page, back row, from left: Bill Fifield, Emil “Emes” George, Don “Klockman” Klock, Chris “Palmer” Palmieri, Doug “Swine” Fuller, Andy Wernick, Bruce “Bueno” Marshall. Front row, from left: Rich “Hal” Halpern, Dave “Urqi” Urquhart, Peter “Greek” Downs, Will Buckley. On the floor: Jeff “Skull” Roberts



sk Reunion Committee Chair Chip Keeney to explain why a record 44 percent of his class attended their 50th Reunion, and he notes that the class of 1968 is extremely tight-knit. “It wasn’t hard to get these guys


back at all,” he says. “It was a logistical thing, but that’s nothing we couldn’t work out. It was so easy, and that’s what made it a pleasure.” But, clearly, the comprehensive outreach campaign waged by Keeney and his committee—Don Klock, Kent Haberle, Paul Wain-

The Phantom Strikes Again Did a shared history of pranks bring the class of 1968 together?


wright, Jim Cain, and Mark Griggs—had more than a little to do with it. Here are three key strategies they employed.

Formed at Reunion the year before, the committee scheduled regular conference calls every three weeks to update each other on their progress tracking down classmates. Each member had his assignments, based on classmates he knew, and had to answer to the group by the next meeting. Committee mem-

bers became gumshoes. “Calling was always preferred, then emailing if they had one, then we looked on LinkedIn, Facebook, Internet searches, and then, lastly, if none of that stuff worked, we’d write an actual letter to their home,” notes Klock. “What made this successful is we bird-dogged this thing to everybody we could find.” To chart it all and keep tabs on loose ends, Wainwright created what he calls “the mother of all spreadsheets. Every fact known about the class is somewhere in it.”

TAP CLASS TALENT To ramp up the appeal of the event itself, the committee sought out members of the class to provide programming of particular inter-

Prior to breaking Reunion records for participation and generosity, the class of 1968 was famous for more subversive acts, specifically for a series of pranks that still stand out for their audacity. At a Reunion talk, Chris McWilliams, Russ Creighton, Worth Durgin, Kent Haberle, and Paul Wainwright provided an insider’s look into the origin and history of the prankster known as the Phantom. What emerges is a rich irony: The Reunion success of the class of 1968 reflects a closeness that was born at least in part

est—an exhibit of members’ art and photography curated by Wainwright, a talk by Will Buckley on lessons learned at Williston, even a presentation by Haberle, Chris McWilliams, and others on the mysterious Phantom, a figure responsible for a string of pranks on campus, including the legendary Crumpled Newspaper Caper (see below). That personal connection “helped pull people in,” notes Klock.

GET A ROOM! To solve the logistical challenge of finding hotel rooms in the area (on what turned out to be graduation weekend for a number of area colleges), the committee rented out the entire Autumn Inn in Northampton, which became a

from the shared experience of rebellion. In “A (Short) History of the Phantom,” a 15-page tell-all shared at Reunion, the authors note that their class came of age at a time of great social change, an era of questioning that called for an anti-establishment superhero. Pranks had a long tradition at Williston (who could forget the cow in the tower of the old gym in 1924?), but in keeping with the spirit of the sixties, the Phantom would be a collective. “One of the original goals of this group


home base for roughly 50 members of the class. All of this organization and planning served to propel both Reunion attendance and the separate class fundraising effort led by Ted Babcock, which broke the previous

school record for the size of a class gift ($302,000) and participation (82 percent). Notes Wainwright, “I know that, in my case, I was motivated to give more money than I ever have before to any organization. I just felt

was to continue to include as many of the class of ’68 as possible,” the history explains. “It was the number of co-conspirators, the duration and imagination of the preparation, which created among all of the seniors the knowledge that The Phantom was somehow a part of all of them.” For Wainwright, who had to answer to Headmaster Phil Stevens for his role in the legendary Crumpled

very strongly about what the school gave to me and wanted to give back.” The donations helped fund a newly renovated terrace outside Ford Hall. Already, it has become a much-beloved socializing place.

Newspaper Caper (when seniors filled the Ford Hall faculty waiting room with crumpled balls of the New York Times), it wasn’t just the pranks that built solidarity, it was the shared values underlying them. “We didn’t try to be destructive,” explains Wainwright, who went on to get his Ph.D. in physics from Yale. “We tried to be smart and clever. That’s basically where this cohesion came from.”

The Return of the Clarkhouse Gang In the spring of 1968, the seniors of Clark House (now Logan House) decided to capture their last days at Williston in a photograph, to be taken by their camera buff classmate Paul Wainwright. “We said, let’s all bring something or wear something so people would remember what we were about,” recalls Don Klock, one of the house’s 12 residents and a member of the 50th Reunion Committee. “Everybody got into it.” Indeed, they did. The props and costumes—from sports gear and hitchhiking signs, to homemade T-shirts and a Playboy magazine—were laden with insider meaning, so much so that the resulting photo, printed in a supplement to the yearbook, endured as a topic of conversation among the classmates for the next five decades. At Reunion, almost all of the Clarkhouse gang gathered to recreate the image. Two who were not there were remembered with photos. ”It was a hoot,” says Klock.



Best Friends Forever On paper, Shaun Chapman ’98 and Michael George ’98 seem like polar opposites. Shaun is a gregarious showman who can own a room. Michael is reserved, content to run the show from behind the scenes. Yet the two friends share a thoughtful, curious way of approaching the world that unites them. And there’s one other factor that set their friendship in stone: their time at Williston, where they played water polo, competed on the varsity swim team, and once got lost hiking Mount Tom (their mutual favorite memory). Today, Shaun splits his time between Boston and San Francisco working as the director of government relations for Weedmaps. Michael is the principal advisor at the Center for Naval Analysis in Washington, D.C. We caught up with them last spring at their 20th reunion. You guys are clearly different, but how are you similar?

Shaun Chapman (left) and Michael George are proof that opposites make good friends.

Shaun: At first blush, we are opposites in almost every single way, but both of us have strengthened ourselves as individuals by trying to replicate what makes the other person strong and solid. Michael helped me organize myself when I was disorganized. I helped him break out of his shell. Our better qualities have bled into each other. Michael: We share the themes of being a gentle spirit, and of being emotive, emotional, self-aware, and sensitive. We’re like family; he’s my brother. We don’t think twice about giving each other a big hug and telling each other, “I love you.” It’s a deep friendship. Where would we have found you on the Williston campus?

Shaun: Probably on the Quad throwing a Frisbee or goofing off. Michael: If we were not at the pool for water polo or swimming, we’d be at Swan Cottage or down by the Manhan River swimming.

Shaun: We wanted to get to the top of the mountain, but we didn’t follow any sort of path. We didn’t bring any water, and we got dehydrated. It was just such a mess, but we weren’t really in danger. We were out there pushing some of our limits and boundaries, and we had each other to rely on. Michael: We climbed the sheer rock-face side. It took a long time to get up, and it was clearly not meant to be hiked. We looked down and realized that we’d gotten ourselves into a predicament. And we had to navigate our way down together. How did your time at Williston cement your bond?

Shaun: Our friendship and our time together at Williston is almost too profound for me to put into actual words. It’s been extremely significant, and I wouldn’t change one thing. I’m choked up even thinking about it. Michael: Shaun was always this reassuring voice if ever I was anxious about trying something new, like joining the Caterwaulers. He would say, “You should just do it. You’ll do great.” He was a good champion. —Megan Tady 56 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL


Tell me about this hike up Mount Tom.

How many alumni live in my city?

Who could I catch up with when I’m traveling? Which alumni work in my field?

Connecting thousands of Williston Northampton School alumni in meaningful ways. It’s easy to join the Williston Alumni Community and begin connecting with friends and classmates. Download the Alumni Community app from Evertrue and search for Williston Northampton. Or join online at Your profile has already been set up by the alumni office. All you need to do is confirm it’s correct, or quickly make any updates.

“ Evertrue is the Internet version of your college directory and more. I use the app to see which alumni live in areas where I am traveling and to reconnect with former classmates.” —Bill Morrison ’69

“ The Evertrue application enables my Williston experience to transcend my time as a student on campus and has allowed me to significantly expand my professional and personal networks with fellow Wildcat alumni.” —Alex Kozikowski ’14

alumni events



Photo Booth Say cheese! The Reunion tent’s photo booth was all smiles all weekend long, as alumni posed with classmates and friends (as well as a few fun props). Check out what our camera captured! 7







5 6



1. Johnaé Strong ’08 and guest Jason Lee

8. Jennifer Pelli Packard ’93, Jon Packard ’93, and Daniel Hayden ’93

2. Jai Chanda ’88, Michael George ’98, Corie Fogg ’99, and Ellen Rosenberg Livingston ’86

9. Christopher Amy ’68 and Chris McWilliams ’68

3. Jeff DeCaro ’73 and son Dru

10. Safiya Cathey ’93 and Rashamon McKay ’93

4. Amanda Cronin ’13 and guest Piterson Ferdinand

11. Fred Choi ’88 and Elizabeth McLeod Bienfang ’88

5. Molly Matthews Conner ’88, Marsi Foster ’88, Darcy Harwood ’88, Erica Levine Faulkner ’88, Amy Helliwell Hampson ’88. Kneeling: Cathy Curran McDonough ’88 and Sarah Macdonald Metcalf ’88

12. Carlos Castello ’73, Michael Hirsch ’73, David Griswold ’73, Judy Collen Fisher ’73, Jack Tatelman ’73, Cynthia Archer ’73, Debbie Carpenter Jerome ’73, Paul Blumberh ’73, Betty Chase Hyde ’73, Jeff DeCaro ’73, and Charlie Moore II ’73

6. Steve Trudel ’69 and Milton Moore III ’68

13. Kate Crowther ’98, Laura Skibiski ’98, and Amy Weber ’98

7. Gabe Byrd ’13, Conor Archbald ’13, Griffin Foley ’13, Miranda Gohh ’13, and Denise Whitman ’13

See more photos from Reunion at





The Williston Northampton Fund is behind every great work of art. Pursuing Her Passion, Leading the Way: Amanda Shen ’19 is an artist who enjoys painting, photography and design. “I love adding multimedia elements into my artwork,” she says. When Amanda isn’t in the studio, she spends her time as a proctor in the Mem East dormitory, an Admission intern, and captain of the varsity squash team this year.

Your support of The Williston Northampton Fund gives every student the opportunity to make the most of his or her Williston experience.


or via Venmo using @WillistonNorthamptonSchool. For additional information or if you have questions, please contact the Advancement Office at (800) 469-4559 or by email at


5 Questions for Diane Spence ’68 Maddy Scott ’16 and former trustee Diane Yelle Spence ’68 may have graduated a half century apart, but when they met at Reunion last spring, they quickly discovered much in common— from a passion for their schools to similar career choices. Spence, a Smith College graduate, worked as fundraiser for educational institutions, including several independent schools. Scott, a senior at Westfield State, was recently hired as Williston’s Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement. Here, Scott asks Spence about her experiences at Northampton School for Girls and how it compares to today.


Maddy Scott: What was it like being a high school girl in the late sixties?

Diane Spence: Well, dress codes were a big thing! We didn’t have uniforms, but wearing dresses or skirts was encouraged as “ladylike.” But that started to change, as mini-skirts were coming in. You were not supposed to wear anything more than 2 inches above your kneecap. I remember one teacher saying—which no one would ever say now!—“You know, the more you expose your thighs to cold weather the fatter they get!” As young women, we talked about how we felt at odds with society’s norms. We were asking ourselves: Should we go to college? Should we be helping people? Should we travel? We were exploring the idea of not doing what was expected of us. MS: Were your teachers at NSFG supportive of that?

DS: Most were naturally focused on teaching and less so on our concerns and questions. But one who did was Ken Heath, our French teacher. We

didn’t have a lot of male teachers, and he was younger, with curly longish hair, so he seemed really different to us. He understood that we were questioning and let us have interesting conversations in French about what was going on in the late sixties. Another senior English teacher often challenged our opinions, but she understood the need for young people to question. I suspect she herself had questions about the war and what the country was getting into. MS: Were you at Smith when Gloria Steinem was there?

DS: She graduated before I did, but of course we were so happy to claim her. I was working there when the first woman president of Smith was hired. Smith gave me a sense of feminist thinking and wondering what questions need to be asked. MS: What NSFG values do you think live on at Williston today?

DS: The most important one is that students and faculty share a love of learning. At NSFG, I evolved from

being someone who went to school to go to school, to someone who was truly excited about learning. That was due to my teachers and the passion they had for teaching and learning. From talking with teachers and students here today, I can see that same “love of learning” is flourishing. MS: Oh, absolutely, it is! When I used to give Admission tours as a student, families would ask what my favorite part of Williston

was. I would always say it’s how the faculty are so caring.

DS: That’s so important. As a student, you have a relationship with your parents, and you’ve known them all your life, but you may not see eye to eye with them. Having new mentors who care about what you have to say and encourage your progress allows you to see yourself in a different light. They really fostered my sense of self and confidence in going out into the world beyond high school. FALL 2018 BULLETIN 61









ALL IN THE FAMILY For these members of the class of 2018, Williston is a family tradition. 1. Donald Tench ’41 and his great-granddaughter, Aidenne Alden ’18; 2. Max Livingston ’18 and his mother, Ellen Rosenberg Livingston ’86; 3. Frederick Strum; his daughters, Jordan Strum ’18 and Jersey Strum ’21; and his wife, Jocelyn “Sis” Johnson Strum ’90; 4. Anabelle Farnham ’18 and her father, Tim

Farnham ’84; 5. Bill Carellas ’81 and his daugthers, Sophia Carellas ’18 and Jenny Carellas ’15; his nephew, Ted Carellas ’15; and his brother, Peter Carellas ’79; 6. John Rockett ’79 and his son, Jack Rockett ’18; 7. Anna Harvey ’18 and her step-mother, Sara Lapan Harvey ’91; 8. Sophie Weed ’18, her mother, Ann Whiting Weed ’77, Ana Weed ’18, and Louisa Weed ’20

Parents: If this issue is addressed to a son or daughter who no longer maintains a permanent address at your home, please notify the Alumni Office of the correct new

19 Payson Avenue, Easthampton, ma 01027

mailing address by contacting us

Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage PAID The Williston Northampton School

at or (800) 469-4559. Thank you.

Change Service Requested


REUNION HAS RETURNED TO JUNE! Join classmates, friends, and faculty under the big tent on June 7-9, 2019, for a memorable weekend!