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The Williston Northampton School | 2009-10

T H E I M PAC T R E P O R T Chief Advancement Officer Eric Yates

The best part about working in an advancement office is that virtually every day we get to hear the stories from alumni and friends about how The Williston Northampton School has positively impacted their lives. That many of the stories have a familiar ring to them serves as a testament to the fact that the school Samuel Williston founded in 1841, and that fully embraced co-education during the merger with Northampton School for Girls 130 years later, continues to provide its students with a superior college preparatory education. The alumni speak of a warm and welcoming campus community where faculty members truly care about their students and don’t just teach but inspire new passions and discoveries. They talk about a scenic campus and are quick to share some of their favorite stories about their lifelong friendships and their most memorable teachers. At the same time, they are truly appreciative of the education they’ve received and the important life lessons they’ve learned. I am proud to be able to share with you some of these stories in our 2009-10 Impact Report. This online publication replaces the more traditional annual report that we have produced previously because the work we do in the Advancement Office—and in the rest of the school—has never been about numbers. It has always been about people like those profiled here.


I joined the Williston team as chief advancement officer in March 2010 because I was drawn to the promise I saw at this great school. 2009-10 was a year of tremendous change at Williston. Several long-serving faculty members retired, including Paul Sonerson and Ann Vanderburgh, who taught at Williston for a combined 57 years. The search for a replacement for retiring Headmaster Brian Wright generated a lot of interest, and there were changes in the Advancement Office. But during my first few weeks here, I recognized that there was also tremendous excitement on campus and anticipation for the great things that lie ahead for this school and a sincere desire shared by so many to see Williston fulfill its promise. The excitement practically boiled over in May when Robert W. Hill III, now head of school, visited campus and addressed the school in the chapel at a special assembly. More than one senior left the chapel that afternoon just a little bit disappointed that they would no longer be students at Williston when Bob officially took the reins, but as new alumni hopefully they recognize the important role they will play in the history that is yet to be written of this school. Until then, please enjoy the stories of alumni new and not-so-new, parents, and other supporters of Williston as they describe how their time here has impacted their lives.

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External Support from All Sources All figures as of June 30, 2010 (numbers in thousands)

Annual Giving

Capital and Endowment Giving

FY 2009-10 Total Giving




Julia Midland ’10, College of the Holy Cross ’14

J U L I A M I D L A N D ’ 10

A Strong Education and a Solid Identity Like many students who come to The Williston Northampton School, Julia Midland ’10 was looking for a challenging school that would give her the tools to succeed at a good college. And, she says, “I had no idea that was only half of the Williston experience.” When she visited the campus, she immediately got a positive feeling from everyone she met. “The people that you will meet at Williston are probably people you wouldn’t ordinarily encounter. But everyone comes together to create one amazing community.” When the time came to look at colleges, she sought out the qualities she had grown so fond of at Williston. Julia’s transition into her first semester at College of the Holy Cross went smoothly. She really liked her classes and professors, and found the workload comparable to Williston. “I thought it would be hard leaving my tight-knit Williston family, but I’ve learned that throwing yourself into new experiences is extremely important,” she says. One thing that has helped Julia in her first year of college is that she already knew how to form genuine relationships with her instructors. “I had teachers as coaches and advisors at Williston, and now they are my friends. I feel confident now going to meet with my professors, which many of my classmates don’t see as an option.” And she has found that “every professor I have met with appreciates the one-on-one time just as much as I do. It makes their jobs more personal.” The friendships with her Williston peers were also unforgettable. Julia has fond memories of competing with her sports teams over the years (she played field hockey and lacrosse, and managed basketball). The 2009-10 girls’ varsity basketball team’s hard work got them to the playoffs and helped a teammate become only the fifth girls basketball player in the school’s history to score 1,000 points.

“Williston taught me to go after what you’re passionate about, and I became interested in so many things that I know will carry with me in life.” “Coaches Kevin Kudla and Meg Sullivan made our team into a family,” Julia recalls. She also has great memories of her AP English class. “I loved it because of Ms. Levchuk’s enthusiasm and I really feel like I developed my analytical and creative writing.” Class discussions were valuable because the students were comfortable enough with each other to voice their differing opinions openly and have honest, educational discussions. “My junior and senior years were challenging, but I felt accomplished once the college application process was over, and I feel extremely indebted to Williston for this,” Julia says. “I did things I never thought I could do, played sports I didn’t know I could play, wrote papers I never thought I could write.” One of her favorite memories of Williston will always be graduation day. “When we thanked all of the teachers, I was so happy to have that opportunity to formally close the book in such a strong, loving way.” Prepared by a strong education and nurtured by a solid community, Julia says, “I was always able to be myself at Williston, which gave me confidence to stay myself in college. Williston taught me to go after what you’re passionate about, and I became interested in so many things that I know will carry with me in life.” With all that the school has given her, giving back “seems like second nature.” As many alumni will agree, Julia found that “I not only learned in the classrooms, I learned how to work, play, and live with people. Williston prepared me both academically and socially for college.”

• 71% of Williston Northampton teachers hold advanced degrees • Williston’s teachers have been at the school for an average of 13 years. 22 teachers have been at the school for 15 years or more. • In addition to teaching, all faculty members also coach an athletic team or an extracurricular activity, supervise students in the dorms, or act as academic advisors • During the Legacy & Vision campaign, in which faculty support was a key focus, $5.8 million was raised for faculty and program support



Passing On the Lessons of Good Teaching • 471 Williston Northampton alumni currently work in all levels of education including at least one independent school headmaster, and many associate professors • 7 alumni currently work at their alma mater


For Tim Hirsch ’95, the experience of an education at The Williston Northampton School has positively impacted many areas of his life: the supportive community helped him through a time of personal tragedy and the strong academic program has led to success in his still-evolving career. Tim entered Williston as a seventh grader in search of outstanding academics and a strong athletic program. He graduated six years later with a solid intellectual foundation and friendships that will stay strong for decades. While any Williston student can experience the caring community life of the school, for Tim that community support was particularly important during his senior year when his mother passed away after battling breast cancer. Williston was “a great place to be” at such a difficult time, Tim recalls. “My friends and teachers really got me through.” Having missed an important soccer game to attend his mother’s funeral, Tim was touched to find that his teammates had saved the game ball, signed it, and dropped it off at his house. “The friends I made were some of the best parts of Williston,” Tim says. His fellow alumni are still some of his best friends, and come from locales as far-flung as Harlem and Bermuda, as well as nearby Easthampton. Even now he keeps in regular touch with these friends, and they get together often on holidays. In addition to the relationships with friends, teachers, and coaches, Williston’s academics gave Tim a strong foundation for future achievement. “There are things from ninth grade English that I still use today, such as the elements of a persuasive essay,” he says. After Williston, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in psychology. While college was a challenging time of transition in some ways, he enjoyed the academics and felt well prepared because of his time at Williston. At Penn, a class called Legal Aspects of Health Care fed his growing interest in law, so after working as a paralegal Tim entered law school at Boston College. After graduating, he was successful as a young lawyer, earning judicial clerkships with the Massachusetts Appeals Court, with a federal judge in New Hampshire, and working at both

“The idea of being a teacher was always in the back of my head,” says Tim. He is looking forward to “affecting my students as my teachers did at Williston.” large and small private firms. But he gradually developed the feeling that he wanted something different out of his career. “The idea of being a teacher was always in the back of my head,” Tim says, in large part because he enjoyed being a student and has such admiration for his Williston teachers. In law school, some of his favorite classes were about the history of law and government, so Tim decided to pursue a master’s degree in order to teach history. He is looking forward to “affecting my students as my teachers did at Williston.” Now enrolled at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, Tim is involved in a service learning project with the children of Cambodian immigrants and refugees. He teaches them the often violent and tragic history of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, which many of the children’s parents experienced but don’t want to talk about. “It gives me practice teaching,” Tim says, “and it’s important for kids to help them learn about their identity.” Based on this experience, Tim says, “I definitely made the right career choice.” Ultimately, Tim would like to teach and also coach, pursuing the same type of multi-faceted career for which he so admires his Williston teachers. Hiring motivated and inspiring teachers is also one of the main reasons that Tim advocates for supporting Williston through the Annual Fund. He also cites the need for continued scholarship offerings. “Financial aid helps promote diversity—all kinds of diversity—at the school,” Tim states. “This improves the campus as a whole.” Studying history has taught him the importance of various perspectives, and he feels strongly that having different views in a classroom enriches everyone. From great sports memories to solid friendships to the ever-useful English essay, even a history teacher may agree that many of the lessons learned and opportunities created at Williston are timeless.

Tim Hirsch ’95 teaches first-generation Cambodian-American students about the history of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge



As senior director of affiliate relations for Rebuilding Together, Amber develops resources and expands the impact of more than 200 affiliates nationwide

A M B E R H A M I LT O N ’ 9 4

Changing the Trajectory

“Without the gifts of alumni, I wouldn’t have been [at Williston]. Period.”

Amber Hamilton ’94 came to Easthampton from New Jersey as a self-described “know-it-all” with a strong independent streak. Inspired by a neighbor who had attended The Williston Northampton School, Amber decided to spend her high school years here because, she says, “it felt like a high school without the typical hierarchy of the cool kids on top and everyone else on the bottom.” Freed from the worry of what “clique” she had to be a part of, Amber flourished in Williston’s welcoming and supportive community. “I was a dance ensemble person, a basketball person, a cultural alliance person, all without having to ‘choose’ a clique,” she says. “That is a pretty cool high school experience.” Amber was also able to take advantage of Williston’s outstanding academics. “Williston gave me a great educational preparation for college and made me feel confident that I could compete with the best students from around the country. I was extremely fortunate to receive a full academic scholarship to college, and I don’t know if that would have happened without the rigorous academics at Williston,” she says. After graduating from Williston, Amber went on to Howard University and Georgetown University. Amber also recognizes that her academic success at Williston and afterwards would not have happened at all if not for the generous financial aid she received. And that

would not have been possible if not for the generosity of alumni and friends of the school whose donations help to ensure that outstanding students like Amber can afford a Williston education. “Without the gifts of alumni, I wouldn’t have been there. Period,” she says emphatically. “I will never forget the impact of that investment in my future, and I can still see how that scholarship money changed the trajectory of my life.” Today Amber works as the senior director of affiliate relations for Rebuilding Together, a national housing nonprofit with over 200 affiliates across the country that helps low-income homeowners with critical repairs to their homes (learn more about their work at She supports Williston’s Annual Fund out of appreciation for what the school did for her and because she knows that her support will make it possible for Williston to continue positively impacting the lives of high school students. “I ‘pay it forward’ by contributing what dollars I can,” she says, “and by speaking about my positive experience at Williston when I can.” Does she have any regrets about her time at Williston? “Only that I was not personally involved in any pranks.”

• In recent years, Williston Northampton has awarded more than $5 million in financial aid annually • The newest scholarship fund is The Brian and Janet Wright Scholarship Fund created in 2010 • Upper School grants average $31,800 for boarders and $17,700 for day students • Middle School grants average $16,200 •••

In 2009-10, students participated in community service projects that benefited more than 15 local and international nonprofit organizations


B E C C A M A C D O N A L D ’ 11

Pursuing All Her Passions • Williston Northampton students have recently taken courses at the Five Colleges including: - Intermediate Arabic through the Mentored Language Program at UMass - Introduction to Philosophy at Hampshire College - Organic Chemistry at Smith College • 100% of our students were involved in a Williston+ program in 2009-10 • Every academic department incorporated resources of the Five Colleges into their teaching in 2009-10 • 64 members of the Class of 2010 participated in a mock interview with an admission officer from one of the Five Colleges


Becca Macdonald ’11 dreamed of the achievements possible at The Williston Northampton School before she even knew of the school. “I was in third grade when 9/11 happened,” she says. A family friend was an Arabic translator in Boston and Becca found out that Arabic translators were in short supply. She had read extensively about the Middle East and already had an interest in international relations, so she set her sights on becoming a translator herself and working for the United States government. “Languages have always been my passion and my strength,” Becca says, and her parents encouraged these pursuits. From a young age, she has attended summer immersion programs at Concordia Language Villages. In preparing for high school, Becca searched for a school where she could customize her education in pursuit of her goal of a diplomatic career. She found that many schools could not accommodate her interests, but Williston could. With everything Williston has to offer, Becca says simply, “It has been an awesome experience.” She chose Williston so she could pursue not only languages but all her passions. While other schools she applied to seemed to view her only as “the soccer player” or “the violinist,” at 14 years old she wasn’t ready to be pigeonholed. “That’s what I thought was really special about Williston,” she says. “I didn’t have to choose. I could continue with all my interests and be well rounded.” Even while focusing on languages, Becca plays violin, is a dormitory proctor, and is a coxswain on the crew team. In her senior year, Becca studied Arabic through the Five College Mentored Language Program, one of the many opportunities available through the Williston+ program. As she was due to complete AP Spanish during her junior year, she planned ahead with her advisor to fit Arabic (as well as French II Honors) into her schedule. Having taken introductory Arabic over the summer, she was able to enter Intermediate Arabic in the Five College program, which met twice a week at Hampshire College.

“It has been an awesome experience.” Cross-registration at the Five Colleges—Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and the University of Massachusetts—is available to Williston seniors in good academic standing through the Williston+ program. Kim Evelti, curriculum development specialist for Five College resources, learned of the Mentored Language Program from Dr. Neal Abraham, the executive director of Five Colleges, Inc., who delivered Williston’s Commencement address last year. She then put Becca in touch with the program’s director and, in Becca’s words, “did all the coordinating.” For students with or without such a clear vision of their futures, Williston provides countless opportunities for academic, artistic, athletic, and social adventures. “It’s amazing how doors can just open up for you,” Becca declares. “There’s so much going on at Williston and so many people you can make amazing connections with, so many opportunities that are just waiting for you.” Academically, she says, “There hasn’t been a class that I’ve not liked.” If she struggled in classes that were not in her areas of interest, her teachers were always available and were generous in providing extra help so that she could succeed. Even during her junior year, often thought to be the most challenging, Becca valued her classes and assignments because she was taking classes that she “really loved.” Becca has also found Williston to be a very friendly place. Out of the six schools she revisited, Williston was “by far the friendliest campus.” Now, many of her closest friends are international students, and they have expanded her knowledge of the world in a way that fits perfectly with her interests. When she goes home to Topsfield, Massachusetts, during school breaks, she realizes that she has had many experiences that her friends there have not. “I think I have been very lucky to be at Williston,” Becca declares.

Becca MacDonald ’11 works with a Fulbright scholar through the Five College Mentored Language Program



Alan Dayton ’43

A L A N D AY T O N ’ 4 3

A Simple Proposition learned that Frank Bell—teacher, Ford If you ask W. Alan Dayton ’43 Hall dorm master, and varsity football, why he has been so generous in his basketball, and baseball coach—had arsupport of Williston over the years, gued for his reinstatement, proof that you’ll get a pretty succinct answer. Williston was a nurturing environment “If you graduated from Williston and where the teachers supported the students, you benefitted from your time there, a fact that remains true today. “I thought it why wouldn’t you wish to help so that was wonderful that he would go out of his others would have the same benefits way to stick up for me,” Alan says. you did? It’s so simple!” After this somewhat rocky beginning, Alan came to Williston in 1939 Alan graduated from Williston and went after his parents became dissatisfied on to Cornell. “I wasn’t the most active with the education he was receiving from the public schools on Long Isstudent academically,” he says. “But the teachers gave me the support I needed to land, where he lived. During his first “Al has made a hit in Ford Hall, succeed.” After Cornell, he went into the year, he roomed in Ford Hall and admits that at times he was “a rather bad military for a few years and then began North Hall, and Northampton. working at Alcoa. Currently living in boy.” That behavior accounts for the When he has left, Florida, he owns a number of hotels in the fact that in his second year, he found something irreplaceable Orlando area. He has never forgotten the himself living in North Hall across will have been taken impact that Williston has had on his life. from Lincoln Granniss, the dorm from Mr. Granniss’s list “I’ve always been grateful to Williston for master. While it may have been uncomof worries.” putting up with me,” he says. “The school fortable at times to be under the watchprepared me for life.” In addition to supful gaze of the dorm master, those porting the school through regular gifts to arrangements were preferable to the –1943 Williston Academy Log the Annual Fund, he served the school as alternative: being dismissed from a member of the Board of Trustees from school. In fact, Alan was dismissed 1984 to 1994. That was also the time he became one of the after his first year and had to write a letter to Headmaster charter members of Williston’s Elm Tree Society, the Galbraith to request reinstatement. The letter worked and school’s planned giving program. In fact, he wrote the origiAlan made it to graduation without any further incidents. nal letter the school sent out to alumni inviting them to join. Interestingly, after being reinstated, Alan discovered Apparently he hasn’t lost his ability to write persuasive that his letter may not have been the sole reason that Headletters, a skill he first used successfully at Williston. master Galbraith decided to let him back into the school. He

• There are a total of 191 members of the Elm Tree Society • The decades of the ’50s and ’60s tie for most Elm Tree Society members at 45 each • The single class with the highest Elm Tree Society membership is 1961, with eight members


J O Y C E O N A F O W O K A N P ’ 0 2 , ’ 0 5 , ’ 11 , P A R E N T S ’ A S S O C I A T I O N P R E S I D E N T 2 0 0 3 – 0 5

Loves Her School and Wants to Sustain It • Current day students come from 36 Pioneer Valley towns • 65 Massachusetts towns and cities are represented by boarding students • 91 international students come from 24 countries •••

• 259 parents visited campus in 2009-10 for Family Weekends in the fall or spring • 67% of parents made a contribution to the Parents’ Fund in 2009-10 •••

• 2,430 alumni, or 24%, live within a 50-mile radius of campus • In 2009-10, the school hosted 24 alumni events around the country and in Asia


Since 1996, Joyce Onafowokan has watched and Joyce is sure that Williston has brought out the best of her cheered as first one, then two, and now all three of her son’s potential. “The leadership role he has taken—I didn’t children have attended The Williston Northampton School. know it was in him. I look at him every day and it just wows She could not be happier with the education they received. me,” she says. In addition to a stellar education, each of the family memJoyce and her family have always believed that educabers also found a sense of belonging and, as Joyce describes tion is fundamental. “You give children education, and the it, “The strength to say: This is who I am. I have been well rest is history. They can stand on their own.” Respect for equipped, and I have a right to be here others is also a core value. She is happy to because I have what it takes.” “I look at him every day and see “the respect that Williston instills in Joyce first considered the school for these kids. You respect faculty, grounds it just wows me.” her son Tosin ’02 when he graduated from people, kitchen staff, everyone. That is a Smith College Campus School and a good core aspect of our culture,” and one that friend of his planned to attend Williston. The Onafowokans she has been glad to find at the school. visited several other independent schools, but when they arIn 2003, Joyce was asked to be president of the Parents’ rived at Williston, Joyce knew immediately that the campus Association and to join the Board of Trustees. She was community just felt right. She wanted a great education for thrilled to become a leader in the community she had grown her children in a place where they would be accepted and to love. “I wasn’t the richest or the most educated, and I was not merely seen as filling a quota. “My maternal instinct a minority. It was a great honor,” she says. “Being accepted said: This is it,” she recalls. “It was very welcoming, like as part of the family has made an indelible mark on me and we were going to be part of a family.” has endeared me to this school more than anything.” After Tosin enrolled in the Middle School, Joyce When asked why financial support for Williston is became involved in the parent community, and her daughter important, Joyce describes her own learning process. Until Tolu ’05 enrolled at Williston as well. Timi ’11, the she joined the Board of Trustees, she thought that tuition youngest of the three, remembers that he “basically grew up and fees were sufficient to pay for a Williston education. on campus.” Over the years, Joyce sensed a growing bond But while on the board, she saw more of what goes into runnot just between her children and their friends but between ning an independent school and realized “other folks were herself and other parents. “We couldn’t wait to attend a PA interested in the percentage of parents and faculty members meeting on a Saturday morning,” she says. “We were going who give.” to hang out with friends.” Previously, Joyce had felt that if she didn’t have a After attending Williston, Tosin graduated from certain amount of money, she couldn’t give. “But little Amherst College and Tolu graduated from Columbia Unidrops of water make a mighty ocean,” she says. “That’s versity. Joyce believes that Williston has “made them who what should drive us: not the amount, but the fact that you they are today.” Beyond education, the school gave them say, ‘This is mine. I want to sustain it.’ When you love your strength, confidence, and enduring friendships. “If they school, you give.” were to write their autobiographies, Williston would have While Joyce would describe the Williston experience chapters,” she declares. as priceless, she says, “If I ever come into millions, the first Now in his senior year, Timi is class president. He also school that would come to mind would be Williston. The played varsity football for the first time this year while school has given much more to my children and my family maintaining a full course load and applying to top colleges. than I could ever give back.”

Tolu, Timi, and Tosin with Abidou and Joyce Onafowokan; at right: Timi with teammates; Tolu was a class representative in 2005; Tosin before his senior prom



James (left) and his son Neal Maxymillian brought their expertise and equipment to restore Williston Pond


Recognizing the Important Things For the Maxymillians, James ’56 and Neal ’83, Williston proved to be the right school at the right time for learning important lessons about themselves and their world. James Maxymillian readily admits that he wasn’t the greatest student before he came to Williston as a postgraduate student in 1954. “I graduated at the bottom of my high school class,” he says. “My friends and I weren’t interested in academics, and I simply didn’t have the maturity to study.” But his academic career wouldn’t end after a lackluster high school career. Family friends who had sent their son to Williston told James’ parents about what a great place it was, and soon James found himself enrolled in what was then a 2-year program. “When I got through [with the program], school was a breeze.” The school he means is Yale, where he went after Williston. Then he continued on to MIT. Neal Maxymillian, unlike his father, grew up going to private schools. When it came time for high school, he enrolled at Deerfield. “I went to Deerfield because a recruiter came to my day school. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it.” When he got there, he realized it wasn’t the right school for him. “I didn’t enjoy myself there,” he says. He talked to his father about how Deerfield “didn’t feel right,” and his father suggested he look at Williston. Neal came to Williston as a junior, and he says, “I felt comfortable early on,” thanks in part to a “nurturing” dorm parent, Angus Barnett, and an atmosphere that was “less snobby.” And the schoolwork? “The academic environment was less ‘paper chase’ and more nurturing,” Neal says, who went to Tufts and then Dartmouth after Williston. “One of the greatest things I got was developing an early sense of independence, confidence, and competence in life. When I got to college, I was amazed at how many other students struggled with fitting in,” he says. Both father and son appreciate how Williston has impacted their lives and the responsibility that goes along with it. Neal says, “It’s important to support schools that promote excellence. Williston is a special place with an exceptional campus. I am in awe of the faculty [there]; they really stand out. It’s important that future students have as good or better an experience as we did.” His father

echoes this sentiment, saying, “it’s important that people remember that Williston is an independent school and what Williston gives to students is because others have given before. Don’t take it lightly— make it better.” One big way that James and Neal have made Williston better is by helping to fund the project to dredge Williston Pond. Williston Northampton archivist, Rick Teller ’70, explained in the Spring 2010 Bulletin that the pond is one of a series of artificial ponds that were created to provide power for Samuel Williston’s mills. It has also served as a living laboratory for biology and ecology classes, home ice for many hockey games, and the center of many legends about what objects might be hidden beneath the water. Over the years, silt had built up in the pond to the point where it was close to being declared a wetland by the state of Massachusetts, a status that would restrict Williston’s ability to manage this prized campus resource. For various reasons, dredging the pond never rose to the top of the school’s capital projects list, but changed thanks to the efforts of former Board of Trustees President Chuck Tauck ’72, who recognized the prominent place the pond has as a centerpiece for a beautiful campus [see page 18]. Thanks to Chuck’s financial support and the engineering expertise of J. H. Maxymillian, Inc./Maxymillian Technologies, the school saw the dredging project completed in spring 2010. It wasn’t long after the backhoes and dump trucks left, the project officially done, that people began to comment on how great the pond looked. Pretty much everyone agreed: a campus jewel had been restored. For the Maxymillians, Williston was a place where they learned a lot about themselves and the impact a great educational experience can have on a person. In talking about Williston specifically and independent school’s in general, Neal says they are the “last available option for people who want to excel and have a breadth of opportunities in a nurturing environment.” The Maxymillians found a way to improve that environment through a somewhat unique and impactful gift, and in doing so showed that recognizing the impact that we can make is an important lesson to learn as well.

“It’s important that people remember that Williston is an independent school and what Williston gives to students is because others have given before. Don’t take it lightly—make it better.” –James Maxymillian ’56


C H U C K TAU C K ’ 7 2

Why the Pond? • Capital spending in 2009-10 totaled $1.2 million, of which $556,000 came from gifts • Williston’s campus covers more than 125 acres and is comprised of more than 50 buildings including dormitories, academic, administrative, and athletic facilities, and faculty residences • Williston’s Campus Master Plan, adopted in 2006, lists projects totaling more than $75 million


Eyesores don’t happen overnight. Instead, something we see every day—and often take for granted because we do see it so often—can transform gradually from a thing of beauty into an eyesore before we notice what’s happened. And then the problem becomes what to do about it. Almost immediately after becoming a member of Williston’s Board of Trustees in 1997, Chuck Tauck ’72 began hearing about the need to dredge the campus pond. Years of silt buildup had transformed the picture-perfect pond into something that in some areas more closely resembled a swamp. The longer the school waited to address the issue, the more real the prospect of the state declaring the pond a wetland became; and if that happened, the school would be restricted in how it managed the area. The problem was, the project was expensive and perhaps not seen as vital enough to rise to the top of the school’s capital projects list. After working on the board for years and hearing often about the need to do something about the pond, Chuck finally realized that the best way he could help Williston with this dilemma was to offer his financial support. He then teamed up with James Maxymillian ’56, and his son Neal ’83 and enlisted their help and the help of their company, J. H. Maxymillian, Inc./Maxymillian Technologies. The pond dredging was completed in March 2010. Chuck explains that until he became a board member, “I didn’t understand the financial challenges of a school like Williston. We tend to think that these schools can do anything and I realized that’s a false impression.” The fact is, Williston relies on the philanthropy of its alumni and friends to be able to continue to provide an exceptional college preparatory education on a safe, beautiful, and welltended campus. Often a person’s philanthropic intentions may not align exactly with the capital priorities of the

“I remember crossing the bridge to get to the fields from the old gym. The pond was part of my daily student experience, and it was so sad to see it silted up and choked with algae the way it had after thirty years.”

school. In cases like that, a skilled development office can work with donors to make sure that their needs and the needs of the school are met by the gift. So why is the pond a big deal? Chuck knew the practical reasons why dredging the pond was important, but there was an emotional element to his gift as well. “The Williston pond is truly significant to the aesthetics of the school. The pond represents a central element of the campus and it simply looked bad,” he says. “I remember crossing the bridge to get to the fields from the old gym. The pond was part of my daily student experience, and it was so sad to see it silted up and choked with algae the way it had after thirty years. I am really pleased that, after 13 years of talking about it, we finally returned the pond to its original beauty.”

In August 2010, a deeper Williston Pond was free of algae and restored to a healthy environment for pond life



Clockwise from top left: Reid, Rollie, and Cliff; Mackie and Reid’s daughters Marie-Dennett (8) and Virginia (5) during Reunion (Anna, age 2, will get her chance at Reunion 2011); Rollie, Mackie, and Reid; Rollie, Reid, and Cliff at Commencement ’91; Mackie in the 1990 Log; Reid and Mackie at their wedding in 2001


For This Family, The Williston Northampton School is Family Four members of the Sterrett family have attended Williston Academy or The Williston Northampton School. Harold “Rollie” Sterrett ’61 began his tour of prep schools at Williston, and his family was “so impressed with the school that we did not look further.” His brother Clifford ’66 soon realized that “attending Williston would provide me with the opportunity to live on my own and to create friendships from around the world.” Almost 30 year later, Marie “Mackie” Gardner ’90 visited The Williston Northampton School and was drawn in by “the beauty of the campus and the warmth of the community.” At Williston, Mackie met her future husband, Reid Sterrett ’91. Reid, who grew up hearing great things about Williston, visited several schools but chose Williston for “the ‘X’ factor. The teachers, the campus, and the students were very welcoming,” he says. Both Rollie and Cliff attended Williston in pursuit of a challenging education and outstanding athletic opportunities. Rollie, a strong swimmer, joined the varsity team and competed nationally. Cliff played football with Rick Francis H’00 (the team was undefeated in Cliff’s sophomore year) and varsity lacrosse (that team was undefeated in his junior year). Cliff declares that “my years at Williston were more important to me than my four years in college.” Reid remembers many of his teachers and coaches including Alan Shaler, Robert Couch ’50, and Rick Francis, saying that “having my relatives’ teachers as mentors was really important.” His relationships with Doug Niedzwecki and soccer coach Ray Brown ’55 were “just priceless,” while varsity basketball coach Harris Thompson created such a close-knit team that some of Reid’s teammates are still his closest and most enduring friends. Rollie speaks for all the Sterretts when he says that Williston provided him with an “invaluable foundation” for college and life. After graduating from Colgate University, Rollie served in the Air Force in Vietnam and at the Strategic Air Command Headquarters in Omaha, leaving service as Captain. Cliff attended Drew University and then worked for the campaign, and later the office of, Connecticut Gover-

nor Tom Meskill. Since 1978, the brothers have worked together as financial representatives affiliated with Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company in a district agency now known as Clifford L. Sterrett & Associates. Mackie says that while at Williston she learned “respect for community and the skills to live with confidence and independence.” She attended Lake Forest College, worked in fashion and design for companies such as J. Crew and Ralph Lauren, and opened an interior design firm in New England. Since her and Reid’s recent move to Las Vegas, she is focusing on raising their three daughters. Reid, who has maintained a career in sports marketing with organizations including Burton Snowboards and Ultimate Fighting Championship, uses lessons learned at Williston every day. As a dormitory proctor, he learned how to work well with many types of people, and his solid academic foundation helps his marketing efforts and business writing. Reid notes that while there are many worthy causes that deserve support, he and Mackie give to Williston because “for the right student, it can give them a foundation for a very rewarding life.” Mackie agrees, saying that “Williston was my family, and just like supporting your real family when roads are rough or smooth, it is important to give back.” Reid points in particular to the need for continued support of financial aid, since one of his best friends would not have been able to attend Williston otherwise, and “my life would not be as full.” Rollie advocates support for Williston because he feels “deep pride in the quality of the school” from his time as a student, and also because of “the tremendous progress Williston has made over the years both academically and athletically.” All sorts of students come to Williston with all sorts of potential, and the education, support, and encouragement they receive impacts everything from their friendships and spouses to their careers and activities. Although they’ve taken their individual paths in life, all of the Sterretts agree with Cliff’s statement: “My decision to attend Williston was one of the better decisions I’ve ever made.”

“Williston was my family, and just like supporting your real family when roads are rough or smooth, it is important to give back.” –Mackie Sterrett ’90 •••

• Nearly 20% of current students are related to alumni • 35% of alumni are related to another Williston Northampton alum • 110 alumni have made the Williston Northampton connection a lifelong commitment by marrying another alum •••

• Williston’s veteran teachers maintain the culture of the school, providing generations of students with a strong sense of welcome and support • 18 current faculty members have been at the school for 20 years or more, 6 for at least 30, and 1 for more than 40 years


C H R I S TA TA L B OT ’ 9 8

From Student and Athlete to Faculty and Coach “I wanted to give back to the school and work with young people with the same drive and determination.” •••

• Williston Northampton fields 65 teams in 32 sports • 210 varsity candidates, including 70 new students, attended fall preseason this year • 29 Blanket Award recipients in the Class of 2010 (just under 25% of the class) competed on a team each season during their Williston career • 84 graduates are currently competing in intercollegiate athletics—17% of college-age graduates


Christa Talbot ’98 arrived at The Williston Northampton School as a boarding student all the way from California with the intention to play hockey. While she found “a great school where I could play hockey at a high level” and success on the cross country course, she also found much more. The community of supportive adults “challenged and pushed me, but cared for me,” she recalls. And the friendships she made with team- and dorm-mates are the source of some of her warmest memories. Arriving early to campus for cross country preseason, Christa was grateful to have a group of peers to connect with. One of her teammates had come from Alaska, and they quickly bonded through their shared experience of traveling thousands of miles to embark on a new adventure. When her roommate—an international student from Germany—arrived, Christa realized that “the school had put a lot of thought into pairing us,” as she had previously studied German and thus could help ease her roommate’s transition. Having an international student for a roommate also put her own experience as a boarding student into perspective. “I didn’t feel like I could be homesick because she was coming from a different culture and language,” she remembers. Christa used these experiences to support her fellow students as a proctor in her senior year. Some of Christa’s best memories are of the close connections she made with teammates before, during, and after a game or meet. In her senior year, the girls’ varsity cross country team came in second in the New England championships, losing first place by only one point. Christa stayed in touch with her teachers and coaches at Williston while she attended Providence College, where she was assistant captain of the hockey team that won the Eastern College Athletic Conference championship in 2002. Even then, she had in the back of her mind the idea that she would like to work and coach at Williston. “Williston gave me so much,” she says. “I wanted to give back to the school and work with young

people with the same drive and determination.” After coaching hockey for a year at Hamilton College, Christa returned to Williston as an admission officer and head coach of the girls’ ice hockey and boys’ cross country teams. As the boys’ cross country coach, she spends a lot of time with the girls’ cross country coach, Academic Dean Gregory Tuleja, who has been at Williston since 1983 and was Christa’s coach. While she enjoyed working as an admission officer because she could share with applicants her own experience at the school, Christa decided she would rather work with students on a more in-depth basis. Now, as assistant dean of students since 2008, her position is incredibly multi-faceted. She has opportunities to connect with students in the dorms and around campus as part of their daily routines. “If someone is having a bad day, or a struggle, it’s rewarding to help them be better and do better,” she says. “That’s what I got during my experience here.” As hockey coach, Christa has led the team through many successful seasons, including 2009-10 when the Wildcats achieved a ten-game winning streak, a record of 18-5-5, and a berth in the NEPSAC Division One Tournament. As cross country coach, she says that 2010 was “a fun season with lots of hard work,” and she looks forward to all her top runners returning next year. As for supporting Williston through the Annual Fund, Christa emphasizes the message of participation. “I believe in the mission of the school and I see its good results,” she says, adding that now is a “really exciting time to be here at the school. We’re moving in a good direction and we have wonderful leadership.” Ultimately, though, the Williston experience comes down to everyday experiences, of which Christa has had countless memorable ones. “The teenage years are very formative. I feel I’m able to make a difference here.” No doubt her students and players agree.

Christa Talbot ’98



At registration and orientation, and in their daily lives at Williston, students take steps toward independence

M A RC L E D E R P ’ 12

A Time for Growth and Maturity

“I can’t think of anything that is more important than investing in children’s education, to prepare them for a more competitive global world.”

Well before the pomp and circumstance of Commencement, the families of Williston students notice the positive changes that so often result from a Williston education. Jeffrey Leder from Boca Raton, Florida, won’t receive his diploma until 2012. However, his father has already seen how he has changed over the course of his time in Easthampton. “He is the middle of three children,” his father, Marc, explains. “His two siblings are both girls and there was always a lot of typical sibling bickering. But now when he comes back home, it’s no longer World War III in our house, but a fun, happy environment.” And what accounts for the difference? “He’s more mature,” his father says. “It’s great to see.” Marc chooses to support Williston because he appreciates the changes he’s seen in his son and also because he believes that “education is absolutely one of the pillars of the future.” He goes on to say, “I want to make sure the school has the funds needed to provide the education it has and continue to grow and remain relevant to the world at large. I can’t think of anything that is more important than investing in children’s education, to prepare them for a more competitive global world.”

As a leading independent school, Williston has long fostered intellectual growth in students who enroll here. At the same time, the supportive, inclusive, and welcoming community that exists on campus fosters growth that goes well beyond the classroom to athletics, clubs and activities, and community service. And the positive feelings the students have about going to school here are noticed by others. Time and time again, visitors to campus let us know about how helpful, friendly, and happy our students are (as if we didn’t know!). Marc Leder echoes this sentiment when he describes how his son ended up at Williston. “Jeffrey went to Eaglebrook and we had a neighbor whose son went to Williston. He and his family raved about it. When we went to visit Jeffrey, we’d invite their son out to dinner with us and we got a lot of positive feedback [about Williston]. We looked at a variety of schools, but Williston was our top choice.” Was it the right choice for the Leders? “When I brought Jeffrey up this year, he ran into a whole bunch of his friends as soon as we got on campus. They all exchanged high fives, hugs, and smiles. Just watching how he interacted with his friends and their joy at seeing each other was so genuine. I know we made the right choice.”

• 94% of students who visited campus in 2009-10 applied to the school • 2,337 students inquired about the school in 2009-10, 132 of whom are currently attending • To refer a friend to Williston, contact the Admission Office at (413) 529-3241 or


H O L LY R I C H A R D S O N ’ 8 0

Standing on Her Own Two Feet • 103 donors have made a gift every year for 25 years or more, and 417 have done so every year for at least 10 years • 93 of Holly’s 145 classmates are donors (64%); five have made a gift to the school each year for at least ten years and one has given every year for 29 years • 107 of the 170 members of the Class of 2005 have made a donation (63%); one has given every year since graduation •••

• International humanitarian Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, visited campus this fall to discuss his work building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the need to promote peace through education around the world. Afterward, students participated in community service projects. • 119 current students, faculty, and staff made a difference in the lives of more than 200 people by donating a record 97 pints at the annual Red Cross Blood Drive on campus this fall 26

Just coming to The Williston Northampton School was somewhat of a leap of faith for Holly Stuart Richardson ’80. Since her entire family had attended a prestigious school for girls in Washington, DC (or its male counterpart), choosing to go somewhere else after junior high school took some bravery. A family connection—her aunt and uncle lived in Whately at the time—led her to visit Williston, and after spending the summer with her relatives and meeting some Williston day students, she enrolled as a sophomore and was “thrilled immediately” with her decision. Looking back, Holly says, “Williston had a huge impact on me. Not just my friends and teachers, but the entire community on and off campus. I was no longer a daughter, a niece, or a granddaughter, I was Holly.” This new-found independence enabled her to learn personal responsibility and she “grew tremendously” in three years. “I made some mistakes but I landed on my feet,” she declares. Some lessons have to be learned the hard way, of course, but those are the ones that really stick. As a consequence for returning to her dorm after curfew, Holly spent a Saturday afternoon scraping chewing gum off the bottom of desks. “As gross as the task was, it had a huge impact!” she notes. “I stopped chewing gum immediately and started to truly stand on my own two feet. It felt great!” Since graduating Holly has worked largely with the travel industry in various capacities. She also makes it a point to support worthy causes not just financially but also as a volunteer, a practice she began by working at Planned Parenthood while attending Stephens College. In Washington, DC, she served on the Board of Associates for The National Rehabilitation Hospital. She later volunteered as a tutor in migrant camps in Florida and did some “very rewarding” work with girls who were aging out of the foster care system.

“Williston had a huge impact on me. Not just my friends and teachers, but the entire community on and off campus.”

Now that Holly lives outside Denver, Colorado, with her husband Allen and their two sons, her main occupations include room mom, reading tutor, Cub Scout den leader, and sidelines cheerleader. She also does her best to teach her children about generosity toward those less fortunate. Through Boy Scouts, they collect food for a local food bank and then help stock the food bank’s shelves. Last November, Holly’s generosity and adventurousness were combined in a hiking trip to the Everest region of Nepal through the nonprofit travel organization Trekking for Kids. As someone who loves the mountains and the outdoors (she was “a big horseback rider” while at Williston), she prepared for her trip by hiring a personal trainer and hiking “all over Mount Evans, Mount Bierstadt, and Bergen Peak.” She also raised over $1,000 for the Orphan Children Rescue Center, which is nearby to the trekking route. A portion of the money came from a family garage sale; both her sons were “very aware of my trip and sharing their mom with children that don’t have moms or dads.” While giving both time and financial support to various worthy causes, Holly still makes The Williston Northampton School a priority through her membership in the Elm Tree Associates. “I have given each year since graduating and will continue to do so after I’m gone,” she declares. “Today, I look at the many obstacles that students must hurdle, and I truly hope that they can find their way to a school like Williston.”

Holly Richardson took a hiking trip to Nepal through the nonprofit travel organization Trekking for Kids



Reece Liang ’10, Swarthmore College ’14

R E E C E L I A N G ’ 10

Well Prepared for College and Beyond Half way through his first year at Swarthmore College, Reece Liang ’10 is finding that he was well prepared by his classroom experience at Williston. “Swarthmore has a reputation for being grueling,” he says, “but I do feel better prepared than many of my classmates.” Reece took eight AP classes while at Williston, an opportunity unavailable to some of his college classmates. Although only some of them were given credit by Swarthmore, all his AP classes helped him prepare for success in college. “Professors don’t monitor your day-to-day work,” he notes. The AP classes taught him to practice independence and foresight with his studies. Reece describes his first semester at Swarthmore as “very busy.” While planning to major in economics and minor in statistics, he is allowing himself time to explore various fields of study. He has joined the swim team and has signed up to help people prepare their taxes through VITA, the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. Having entered Williston in seventh grade as a student who had difficulty focusing at his previous school, Reece quickly learned to make the most of his time at Williston, graduating as a National Merit commended scholar, most valuable swimmer, and president of the senior class. While Williston’s rigorous academics have proven invaluable to him, Reece says the personal connections are what make a Williston education truly meaningful. For example, his class revived the tradition of senior week, in which seniors dress according to a different theme every day. “It was a physical manifestation of our class unity,” he says. “I realized then how close we really were.” Reece got involved with student government in his sophomore year as an opportunity to challenge himself and give back to the school. As class president, he found that no matter how hard he worked, there was always more that could be done: more money to be raised and more ideas to be discussed. “Student government taught me to accept that people have differing opinions and not everybody will ap-

“As the world gets larger and more competitive, you need as big of a family or network as you can find, and it was great to get a head start at Williston.”

preciate what you do, but that shouldn’t discourage you from moving on and taking criticism,” he remembers. “But the best part was during prom when it seemed everybody was having a great time. There’s nothing like knowing your work had a positive impact on somebody else’s day.” Supportive relationships with his teachers had many positive impacts on Reece’s days at Williston. Whether discussing relationships with “Coach K.” (his swimming coach) or eating crepes for the first time in French class with Ms. Michalski, teachers always gave generously of their time. Reece recalls Williston as “a great place where the teachers form incredible relationships with students.” And those relationships carry through. In the age when friendships can be measured electronically, Reece has been pleased to exchange personal messages from teachers via Facebook (now that he is an alumnus, of course). He sees value in Williston not only as a school but a network in which he takes great pride. “People usually feel that way about their college,” he says. “It’s rare to feel that way about your high school. As the world gets larger and more competitive, you need as big of a family or network as you can find, and it was great to get a head start at Williston.” Reece points out that Williston is “such a great place” that many teachers spend the majority of their lives teaching and living here, emphasizing kindness and support of the whole student. “It’s important to sustain that kind of caring,” he says, with gifts to the Annual Fund, even for graduates like himself who are on a college student budget. “I want to support the school that supported me. As a conscious human being, I want to contribute to something incredible.”

• The 136 members of the Class of 2010 gained acceptance to 549 colleges and universities • 82% of students taking the AP exams in 2010 scored three or higher • 32 members of the Class of 2010 began their career at Williston in the Middle School • Admission officers from more than 135 colleges and universities visited the campus to meet with students in 2009-10


2 0 1 0 - 11 B O A R D O F T R U S T E E S


PRESIDENT Fred A. Allardyce ’59 Westerly, RI VICE PRESIDENT Kevin R. Hoben ’65 Farmington, CT

TREASURER Julie Chornesky Garella ’78 San Francisco, CA SECRETARY Lewis Rabinovitz ’53 Hartford, CT


Warner K. Babcock ’70, P ’04 Stamford, CT

Mike Jackson ’90 New York, NY

A. L. Griggs P ’93, ’95 Northampton, MA

Mark Cutting P ’02, ’07 Holyoke, MA

Tracy R. Opalinski P ’11 (Ex officio) Brimfield, MA

John E. Reed ’33, P ’66 Westfield, MA

David A. Connolly ’83 Woodside, CA

Elizabeth Manning D’Amour P ’00, ’03, ’04, ’07 Longmeadow, MA

Donald M. Kitchen ’70, P’10, ’12 Rochester, NY

Catharine C. Porter P ’97 Amherst, MA

Stephen A. Davis P ’04, ’06, ’07, ’08 Longmeadow, MA

Richard F. Shields ’61, P ’90, ’94 Lee, MA

Robin G. Dirats ’82, P ’11, ’14 (Ex officio) Easthampton, MA

J. Steven Staggs ’78 Westfield, MA

Daniel C. Decelles ’89 New York, NY

James Dubin ’64 New York, NY

Robert W. Hill III P ’15 (Ex officio) Head of School Easthampton, MA



Catherine H. Skove ’75 Gilsum, NH

John Hazen White Jr. ’76 Barrington, RI

William B. Palmer ’49 Johns Island, SC


Sharon Davenport Director of Development Ellen Frank P ’15 Director of Donor Relations Rachel Goldberg Director of Parent Relations Cindy Hall P ’09, ’12 Associate Director of Annual Giving & Advancement Services Sara Lawrence Senior Advancement Officer Jill Meister Director of Research Melanie Sage Director of Alumni Relations

Beth Somerset Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Glenn Swanson ’64, P ’14, ’16 Assistant Head of School for Student and Alumni Affairs; Dean of Students Donna Sweigart Records & Gift Processing Clerk Ann Truehart Advancement Assistant Wanda Vadnais P ’94 Assistant to Major Gifts Traci Wolfe P ’16 Director of Annual Giving Eric Yates Chief Advancement Officer


/willistonnorthampton 19 Payson Avenue, Easthampton, MA 01027 (413) 529-3000

/thewillistonns /willistonnorthampton

The Williston Northampton School Impact Report 2009-10  
The Williston Northampton School Impact Report 2009-10  

Learn about the continuing impact of The Williston Northampton School on the lives of alumni, students, and their parents. Watch video at...