NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL BULLETIN
WISDOM FROM WILDCATS P. 23 & 24
THE NEW EASTHAMPTON P. 44
AN APPETITE FOR BUSINESS HOW ALUMNI ARE HEATING UP THE FOOD WORLD
Warning: This issue is guaranteed to make you hungry! In addition to profiles of Williston alumni who are making their mark in the food business (page 32), we also take you on a tour of the new Easthampton (page 45), now home to a host of microbreweries and eateries. (But don’t worry ... Nini’s, the Brass Cat, and Antonio’s are all still here, too.)
WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/WILLISTONNORTHAMPTON WWW.TWITTER.COM/WILLISTONNS WWW.INSTAGRAM.COM/WILLISTONNS WWW.FLICKR.COM/WILLISTONNORTHAMPTON WWW.YOUTUBE.COM/WILLISTONNORTHAMPTON
CONTENTS | VOLUME 103, NUMBER 1
For Pete Marczyk ’84 and his brother Paul ’89, good food is good business in their Denver store.
Find out how the Williston Scholars program is introducing students to the rigors of independent study.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY AND RYAN DEARTH
32 | THE TASTE OF SUCCESS These Williston alumni are making their mark with enterprises that put good food front and center.
44 | WELCOME TO THE NEW EASTHAMPTON Chic eateries, hoppy brews, and plenty of renovated old mill buildings are transforming your old stomping grounds into a hip destination.
AROUND THE QUAD
6 | CAMPUS NEWS
20 | RINK CATS
Arts Awards, Ford Hall turns 100, treasures from the archives, and more
Christa Talbot Syfu ’98 and her players show their skills in college and beyond.
10 | THE WILLILIST
22 | WILLISTUFF
New puppies, Latin accolades, touchdowns and yards: a look at Williston by the numbers
12 | WHEN STUDENTS BECOME SCHOLARS Watch what happens when Wildcats develop expertise over 11 weeks of intense research on a topic of their choice.
A roundup of products made by alumni artists, vintners, and entrepreneurs
23 | IN THEIR OWN WORDS Sage advice from recent speaker Ann Laupheimer Sonnenfeld ’75
27 | WILDCAT PARTIES & GATHERINGS Recent events from coast to coast, an epic reunion in Germany, a tribute to Sarah Stevens, and more IN EVERY ISSUE
2 | HEAD’S LETTER 3 | IN BOX
24 | ASK A WILDCAT
52| CLASS NOTES
A Q & A with wildlife biologist and Siberian tiger expert Dale Miquelle ’72
The latest news from alums
26 | TRUE TEAMMATE Remembering Kate Risley ’93
79| IN MEMORIAM Remembering those we have lost
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HEAD OF SCHOOL Robert W. Hill III P’15, ’19
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 Snyder
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 T: (413) 529-3300 F: (413) 529-3427 email: email@example.com Established in 1915, the Bulletin is published by the Advancement
ne of the best parts of my job as Head of School is being a daily witness to the creative energy that makes our campus such a remarkable place. Whenever I drop by a classroom, or an art studio, or a science lab, I feel the sparks of creativity. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my visits, it’s that those moments of inspiration rarely occur in isolation. They are more often a result of connections—of teachers and students challenging each other, engaging with provocative material, and together discovering new ways of thinking. At Williston, we have worked thoughtfully over the past seven years to ensure space for this type of creative collaboration. We want our students to have the latitude to work with teachers as well as others outside of the school in pursuit of a special interest. Our revamped Williston Scholars program, described in this issue on page 12, provides just such an opportunity. The greatness of Williston’s educational experience resides in the synergy formed when a dedicated teacher inspires the creative impulses of our students. When that happens—as you can see from the work of the scholars profiled—there is no limit to a student’s imagination and what she or he might accomplish.
But Williston’s support for pursuing passions may have even greater implications for students after they leave our campus. As I travel the country meeting Williston’s alumni, I never cease to be amazed by how many “right-brained” professionals we seem to have produced. Writers, architects, artists, designers— the list is as long as it is impressive. You can read about one such group, entrepreneurs who have brought innovation to the food industry, beginning on page 32. I would like to think that there’s something in Williston’s DNA, something transmitted from generation to generation, that promotes this kind of creative achievement. Certainly the element of collaboration is key, as noted by one of those profiled, Northampton entrepreneur Alex Feinstein ’03. “The thing that stands out the most for me is the warm, social atmosphere, with other students and teachers,” he says. “I always felt I could approach a teacher and have a great conversation and get my questions answered if it was something I was interested in.” Our school culture continues to be one that celebrates individuality and creative expression, and I hope that as alumni look back on their time at Williston, they see the seeds of their success in the days they spent under the gaze of Mt. Tom.
Office for the benefit of alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends. ROBERT W. HILL III P’15, ’19
2 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
FOLLOW ROBERT HILL ON TWITTER AT @HILL3WILLISTON
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Worth Repeating To prepare for college, you need to move beyond just spitting out what you’ve memorized or read. You need to actually think. And then you need to take it one step further and think against your idea. Austin Sarat P’14, Amherst College’s William Nelson Cromwell professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science, during a winter assembly
PORTRAITS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
Oftentimes we do not recognize that amidst all the things that divide us, everyone living and breathing in this room shares one thing in common: we are human. Rev. Erik Taylor Doctor, kicking off the opening assembly on Why Not Speak? Day
Five years ago, I never thought that I would be on this side of the stage in front of all of you. I hardly even had the courage to stand up and present in front of a class. But that’s just what happens at Williston: you become someone that you only ever dreamed of being. Class President Natalie Aquadro ’17, at Convocation
Reading saved my life and I think it could at least improve yours. Ann Laupheimer Sonnenfeld ’75, speaking in a January address at the Cum Laude induction
When each of us can be ourselves, we all live a more rich and full life. Nisa Zalta, director of community relations for Riverside Industries, a local organization that helps people with developmental disabilities, after receiving a donation of $2,750 from Williston
In a time when an understanding of government seems vital, the engagement of students in the discussion of the structure, development, and process of government—well, I don’t know what we do that’s more important. We the People advisor Peter Gunn, after the Williston team won the state championship in Boston
WILLISTON COMMUNICATIONS NETS SEVEN AWARDS The team that brings you the Bulletin earned seven awards this year—for printed materials and other work—from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. This brings the number of awards won over the past four years to 19. (Victory dance!) SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 3
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Founders Day Success
donors put a smile on the faces of our four founders— Samuel Williston, Emily Williston, Sarah Whitaker, and Dorothy Bement— this Founders Day, February 22. That record-breaking number meant we both outstripped our initial goal of 500 donations (unlocking a $50,000 gift from a group of alumni) and blew past our late-in-the-day challenge from Board Chairman John Hazen White Jr. ’76 to reach an additional 200 donations for another $100,000. In the end, we surpassed last year’s donor total by a whopping 59 percent, reaching a total tally of nearly $334,000, more than double last year’s dollar amount. Throughout the day, competition heated up among class decades, and the individual class years of 1954, 1958, 1962, 1970, and 2007 posted successful challenges to their classmates. Two significant parent challenges were swiftly answered. In the end, we saw alumni, parents, faculty and staff, and friends of the school make generous contributions to the Williston Northampton Fund and Parents’ Fund—funds that make an immediate and profound difference in the lives of students. Thank you!
For Founders Day, we asked you to think back on what you “found” at Williston. What you shared brought laughs, tears, and plenty of warm fuzzies. From “my family” to “my sense of humor” to “my voice,” you all found something special here, and we’re honored that you stay connected.
4 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
AROUND THE QUAD
PORTRAIT BY MATTHEW CAVANAUGH
Senior Anna Wilinsky, who is headed to Dartmouth next year, works on her Visual Arts Intensive in the sunny ceramics studio. For more recent snapshots, turn to page 8. To see the ceramic work of Simon Levin â€™86, turn to page 22.
SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 5
WILDCATS GIVE BACK
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We saw students embody the Williston motto—striving for lives of purpose, passion, and integrity—as they volunteered or collected donations for worthy causes.
1. FEEDING THE HUNGRY
In more than 30 workshops, students discussed differences and connections.
SEEKING CONNECTION On February 22, Why Not Speak? Day brought the campus together in a discussion about the ways race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and other cultural markers separate us, but also potentially unite us. Keynote speaker Rev. Erik Taylor Doctor kicked off the day
by asking listeners to go further than empathizing, and urged them instead to really connect and support one another, no matter our differences. “Each of us has a narrative, a story, a reason, a goal, an aim,” Rev. Doctor said, “and our narratives go right back to our uniqueness.”
When our unique qualities are celebrated, he said, we can engage in conversations that go deeper, and that’s when true connection develops. In more than 30 workshops organized by students and Dean of Inclusion Erin Davey, the community did just that.
This year’s food drive gathered 1,315 items for the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, 31 percent more than its goal. 2. A PASSION FOR BOOKS
Williston student-athletes participated in Easthampton’s Athletes LOVE to Read, sharing stories of Ferdinand the bull and Olivia the pig with local elementary school students—and reinforcing the idea that reading is fun-damental. 3. SERVING MEALS
The Community Service Club prepared and served meals at Kate’s Kitchen in Holyoke and the Ronald McDonald House in Springfield. A staff member at Kate’s Kitchen praised Williston’s “kind, selfless, energetic crew.” 4. STU-BOP CHARITY
Each year, students vote to decide which charity will receive 5 percent of Stu-Bop proceeds. This year, they gave $2,750 to Riverside Industries, which works for adults with developmental disabilities.
THE ART OF DEDICATION The Arts Department debuted the Wil-
and serves as president of the emerging
liston Working Artist Award this fall, and
Williston Student Choir Board, where
has since bestowed it on four students
she oversees the planning and execution
who are passionate about their pursuits.
of student events and concerts. Finally,
Actor and musician Kevin O’Sullivan ’18
photographer Mark Wei ’17 completed a
is a “relentless” collaborator. Dancer Rio
summer internship at a Beijing studio
Oshima ’19 travels on weekends to New
and “aims for perfection in pursuit of
York City to compete in hip-hop dance
his vision. The results have been ex-
battles. Singer Gabby Record ’17 writes
ceptional and inspiring,” said photo
and arranges music for school concerts
teacher Edward Hing ’77.
6 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
Wildcats revived the tradition of a coldweather concert (Vespers in the old days, notes Archivist Rick Teller ’70) with their Winter Warmer Concert. A packed house donated hundreds of dollars for blankets for the Easthampton Community Center.
PORTRAITS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
5. BENEFIT CONCERT
FORD HALL TURNS 100 The first dorm built on the “new” campus back in 1916, Ford has been home to generations of students—as well as countless traditions and epic pranks. BY RICK TELLER ’70
“The twisting story of how Ford came to be involves a pair of moonlighting alumni, an untimely death, a brother’s loyalty, and a fortune built on galoshes.”
mid our recent 175th celebration, a Williston landmark quietly achieved another milestone: Ford Hall turned 100. If any building can be said to embody tradition, it must be Ford. Alumni of various generations will recognize references to the Phantom, the Bomb Sight, the Great Newspaper Caper, Couchie’s Carlings, and the mythical Kid Who Was Taught His Colors Wrong. If you have to ask, you weren’t there. It is hard to imagine that a structure so embedded in the fabric of Williston was almost never built. The twisting story of how Ford came to be involves a pair of moonlighting alumni, an untimely death, a brother’s loyalty, and a fortune built on galoshes. It all begins with Headmaster Joseph Sawyer, who in
the early 20th century undertook an ambitious modernization program. Among his goals was to develop the so-called “new” campus on the grounds of Emily and Samuel Williston’s Homestead, a few blocks from the school’s original Main Street location. The centerpiece would be a dormitory befitting the great promise of the young century. Aware of headmaster Sawyer’s campaign, alumni James Sheffield, Class of 1882, and Charles Hill, Class of 1890, took it upon themselves to engage in some freelance fundraising. Their efforts led them to call on John Howard Ford, class of 1873, a successful manufacturer of waterproof rubber shoes. Might Ford be interested in supporting his alma mater with a gift? On the spot, he pledged $100,000—the equivalent of about $2.5 million today. Sheffield
and Hill left, and a short time later Ford walked home in a heavy snowstorm. Chilled to the bone, he fell ill and soon died. While going through the deceased’s account books, his brother and estate executor, James Bishop Ford, discovered an entry about a gift to Williston. Ford promptly wired the full sum to Headmaster Sawyer. It was an astounding act of generosity—all the more so because Sheffield and Hill had never told the school about Ford’s promise! Ground was broken on the new dorm in October 1915. Sawyer wrote to alumni, “This building will establish a high standard for others that will follow. It will have reinforced concrete foundation, walls of red brick with granite corners and cornice, and slate roof. The interior construction will use as little
combustible material as is possible, thus making the building fireproof.” It had iron girders, modern wiring and plumbing, its own infirmary, and a dining hall. Housing three faculty members and 50 students in single rooms and two-person suites when it opened in 1916, Ford was an exemplary structure. The intervening decades have brought many additions and renovations: reconstruction of the kitchen; expansion of faculty apartments; award-winning redesign of the dining commons; new windows, wiring, and common rooms. As Ford’s structure evolved, so too did its character. At first, Ford was known as the Gold Coast, a cushy enclave set apart from the original Main Street campus. Later, it became the privileged Senior Dorm. Overnight, a rivalry was born with brand new Memorial Hall and its population of Upper Middlers and Middlers (i.e., boys in grades
TO READ MORE ABOUT FORD’S 100TH ANNIVERSARY, GO TO WWW.WILLISTON.COM/ARCHIVES
10 and 11). The resulting water fights were Napoleonic. Peace broke out in 1999, when Mem became a girls’ dorm and Ford began welcoming sophomore and junior boys to live alongside seniors. Through all the changes, headmaster Sawyer’s model residence has aged with grace. At 100, she wears her years well. SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 7
The fall dance performance put Wildcats in motion.
These are the moments that defined life at Williston this winter and spring. We took pictures to make them last a little longer.
At Smith College Museum of Art, students discuss a nativity scene.
This winter, wrestlers set a school record for the most pins by a team in a single season. Nine of our players went to New Englands. Go, Wildcats!
8 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
For the third time in four years, Peter Gunnâ€™s AP U.S. Government team won the Masschusetts We the People title and is headed to the national competition in D.C.
PHOTOGRAPHS CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
For the second year in a row, Williston girls took the NEPSAC Division 2 Swimming and Diving Championship, and set records along the way.
After the December holiday dinner, students headed to Mr. Hillâ€™s house for carols and dessert.
Browse more images of campus life at flickr.com/willistonnorthampton
SPRING 2016 BULLETIN 9
around the quad
The WilliList A by-the-numbers look at recent school highlights
Items in the redesigned online campus store. Launched in December 2016, the new storefront features a wealth of Williston swag including team T-shirts, school hoodies and headwear, bags and totes, and spiffy new Vineyard Vines ties. Get fresh new Williston gear and show your school pride by visiting willistoncampusstore.com. 10 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
Feet of red oak that make up the wooden deck and supports of the main bridge of Willistonâ€™s new cross-country course (opening in September 2017).
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
Members of the robotics club who journeyed to Boston University Academy recently to participate in a VEX Competition Qualifier for the Southern New England Regional Tournament. They returned with a trophy, sharing the win with an allied team from St. John’s Preparatory School.
Hours of rehearsal for the fall play, Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors. “We came into the world like brother and brother, And now let’s go hand in hand, not one before another.”
Number of touchdowns thrown this season by Ian Ostberg ’17. Ian is now Williston’s all-time career passing leader in touchdowns and yards (with 4,310). Hut, hut, hike!
The upper bound of the determinant density of any rational hyperbolic knot (a hyperbolic link with one component). This number was published in a paper by Williston math teacher Mia Smith, who recently taught a mini-lesson on knots in one of her classes. (We don’t get it, but we bet her students do.)
Dogs that currently live in dorms and houses on the Williston campus, making Ultimate Frisbee practice potentially ruff. This year, three new puppies joined the pack: Katy Briedis’ “Millie,” Allison Marsland’s “Pepper,” and Melissa Brousseau’s “Ripley.” Last year, the new pup in town was “Bromley,” who lives with Peter and Meg Valine.
Number of shutter clicks and images created (at minimum!) per year in teacher Ed Hing ’77’s photography classes at Williston. Students use about 500 rolls of film yearly for analog photography, and generate about 2 terabytes (that’s 2 trillion bytes) of digital image files.
Prizes won by Williston students on Classics Day in January, when 341 students of Latin from around the Pioneer Valley met at Mount Holyoke College to compete with propositum, passionis, et integritas.
SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 11
WHEN STUDENTS BECOME SCHOLARS A new program introduces students to the rigors of independent study. by JONATHAN ADOLPH
12 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
One student studied the epidemic of concussions in football. Another explored the history of Slavic paganism. Still a third made an EP of original electronic music. All fascinating projects, to be sure, but what makes them truly noteworthy is not so much what they explore as how they came to be. Each was a project completed through the revamped Williston Scholars program, an innovative new approach to independent study. Students select and research a topic of their choosing, then work for a trimester alongside a group of similarly engaged classmates, all under the guidance of a dedicated faculty member. In designing the new format, Director of Curriculum Kim Evelti sought to create a supportive structure for students about to undertake a complex project on their own. Students sign up for a Williston Scholars course in a specific topic area (History and Global Studies, Performing Arts, and Language are offered during the winter; Science, Visual Arts, English, and Mathematics in the spring), and then meet as a group with their instructor to develop and research their ideas. To leverage the resources of the local Five College community and beyond, students are required to contact sources outside of Williston. They then write a paper and share their findings through a presentation similar to a TED talk, a live performance, exhibition, or other format appropriate to the subject. The course is honors level, and exceptional work can earn a certificate of distinction with mention on a student’s transcript. “It’s capitalizing on the trimester project that we loved so well in the old Williston Scholars model, and had a lot of success with in senior projects, but we’ve built a more firm structure around it,” explains Ms. Evelti. “The students are now working as a group, whereas in the past the senior projects were completely
PORTRAITS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
individual. Allowing students to choose their own topics really ignites their eagerness to dig in for a full term.” Judging from the achievements of the first two groups of Scholars in the new format (a sampling of whose work is presented here), the approach has been a notable success. “I was skeptical about the idea of having nine different kids with nine different projects,” acknowledges Sarah Klumpp, who taught the History and Global Studies Williston Scholars last winter. “It was a little daunting. But I was so impressed with how hard they worked. They really became experts in their topics.” Equally enthused is theater teacher Emily Ditkovski, who worked with four Williston Scholars in the Performance Arts course. The new structure, she noted, is particularly suited to a student’s development as an artist. “Art is messy,” she explains. “You need to have room to make mistakes, to scratch something and start over. That’s the best way to learn. So when you have this 11-week period to create something, you get the time to do that.” As for the Scholars themselves, several noted that as challenging as the process was, the support of their fellow Scholars and teachers gave them the confidence to push through the inevitable difficult stretches. Ultimately, several noted, the course left them feeling confident in their ability to take on similar projects in the future. “It definitely was a positive experience,” noted Connor Murray ’16, who explored football concussions. “I feel more prepared for projects and courses like these that I’ll most likely come across in my next four years. I feel like I now have some good experience with presentations and papers, and it’s not quite as scary.”
THE SCHOLAR Connor Murray ’16 THE PROJECT Concussion Crisis: Head Trauma in American Football Using examples drawn from today’s sports headlines, Connor explores the connection between the repeated head trauma of football and the debilitating brain condition Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). In assessing the response of the National Football League and coaches elsewhere, he asks the question, Is it possible to save the game by making it safer for the players while keeping its appeal to the fans?
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THE SCHOLAR Verdi Degbey ’16 THE PROJECT Before We Go to Sleep (EP album) Drawing from poetry written just before he fell asleep, Verdi created a spokenword EP with original music about selfidentity and other late-night thoughts. He points out that while his music has the form of rap, it has a slow pace that suits its purpose: to be listened to before going to sleep. FROM HIS REFLECTIONS ESSAY “I made this project for people who struggle with ‘fitting in,’ which is something I go through all the time… It wasn’t until recently that I realized that it was totally o.k. to be different.”
THE SCHOLAR Derrick Zhao ’18 THE PROJECT The Purpose of Art After a class discussion about the purpose of art that revealed varying opinions and no one answer, Derrick continued the conversation through a process of written interviews and photography. He asked fellow students to write down their thoughts on the purpose and nature of art, then photographed them and gathered their answers and portraits in a homemade book. He also created graphic stickers from the portraits. “I found students do not really understand what art is,” he reports. “You can answer in three seconds or take your entire life.”
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THE SCHOLAR Amelia DeFrancis ’16 THE PROJECT Italian American Female Anarchists: The Untold Story of a Radical Past Amelia recounted the history of Italian American female anarchists and the appeal of radical politics at the end of the 19th century and early 20th. She further explored the decline of the movement and its fall into obscurity, as subsequent generations integrated into society and women chose to hide their radical pasts. HIGHLIGHT: “The woman who wrote my primary source book is a professor at Smith College, so I got to talk to her and have a personal one-on-one with her, and she was amazing.”
THE SCHOLAR Alex Fay ’16 THE PROJECT Bell’s Inequality: Proving the “Spooky Action at a Distance” Alex examined the significance of Bell’s Inequality, a quantum physics theorem proposed in 1964 by Irish physicist John Bell. Bell’s work calls into question some of Einstein’s ideas by proposing that at times, separate but related particles can interact with each other. Mr. Fay argued that it “has been a profound development in modern physics with far-reaching implications.”
THE SCHOLAR Maitri Dalal ’16 THE PROJECT Abortion in Classical Literature
TO READ ABOUT MORE WILLISTON SCHOLARS PROJECTS, GO TO WWW. WILLISTON.COM/WILLISTON-SCHOLARS
Maitri analyzed a number of works of classical literature that deal with the topic of abortion, including writings by the Roman poet Ovid and Greek philosophers Aristotle, Plato, and Hippocrates. Comparing the ancient texts to today’s debate, she found that many of the same arguments are still being put forth, suggesting that similar gender and power dynamics continue to influence the discussion.
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FROM THE ARCHIVES Antonio, where Will Wyatt purchased it in the 1980s. Running to 97 leather-bound pages, the volume is filled with Mather’s exquisite drawings. The images remind us that biology in his time was based almost entirely on observation and description. Much of what our present-day students take for granted had yet to be understood. In this regard, what’s missing from Mather’s notebook is almost as fascinating as what’s included. In discussing extinction, for example, he explains that fossils are often records of earlier forms of modern animals. But nowhere does he refer to evolution or natural selection, ideas that had not been fully embraced. Likewise, when talking about cells Mather makes no mention of DNA: It was still unknown. Opening a window on the past, Dr. Wyatt’s gift underscores both the steady advance of human knowledge and, paradoxically, its limits. What will future Williston students know, one wonders, that we don’t? —BY RICK TELLER ’70
A chance find in a second-hand Texas bookstore led to these 1890 biology notebooks returning to Williston’s archives. To see and read more about them, go to www.williston. com/archives.
PHOTO BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
“My name is Will Wyatt,” said the stranger. “I’m a dentist in Texas. I have what appears to be a notebook from a Williston biology class, dated 1890. Would you like it for the Archives?” Well, yes! I gladly accepted Dr. Wyatt’s generous offer, and in short order Williston came into possession of what turned out to be a beautifully illustrated set of teaching notes created by a biology teacher named William Tyler Mather. We happen to know a lot about Dr. Mather. He graduated from Williston Seminary in 1882 and from Amherst College four years later. Then, like many Williston and Amherst alumni, he returned to Williston to teach. In 1894 he left to study physics at Johns Hopkins University, earning his Ph.D. in 1897. The following year, Mather became a professor of physics at the University of Texas, Austin, where he remained for the rest of his life. His westward migration helps explain how a set of Williston teaching notes found its way to a second-hand bookstore in San
A DAY IN THE LIFE Admission officer, dorm parent, and campus shutterbug Allison Marsland took over The Willistonian’s Instagram feed last October. Here’s what she saw as life unfolded in and out of 194 Main Street.
7:00 AM Betty and coffee. Best part of waking up. #msmarslandlovesmornings
8:00 AM Admission team meeting with my colleagues in the Homestead! #bestfootforward
9:00 AM Thanks for my omelet, Birch dining staff! #smilestostartmyday
10:00 AM My freshman advisees brought their sweet teeth. #freecandy
11:00 AM Post-interview T-shirt granted. #futurewildcat
12:00 PM Lunch with an advisee. #inthediningcommons
2:00 PM Jay Brennan ’15 stopped by and checked out his basement signature. #194Maintraditions
4:00 PM Though some said, “Kill it,” this student said, “Save it.” #cricketrescue
7:00 PM Lots of October birthdays to celebrate! #yumyumcupcakes
8:00 PM Cupcake cleanup crew with my son Matteo. #194Mainlife
9:00 PM Serious study hall demeanor. #hittingthebooks
10:00 PM Night, night, 194 Main! Sophomores shutting it down. #msmarslandout
SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 17
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MASTERING THE ART OF TEACHING An innovative degree program at Mount Holyoke College, developed in partnership with Williston, lets faculty enrich their skills. BY JONATHAN ADOLPH
hat would it have been like to live through the Nazi occupation of France during the Second World War? To give her students a visceral understanding, AP French teacher Sue Michalski used an experiential learning technique that transported her class back in time. “I had students become the experts, dissecting real, authentic texts—audio, video, and written—that I had selected from that time period, before we delved deeper into the topic as a group.” The result, she says, was “a deeper connection to and understanding of the material.” Ms. Michalski was inspired to try this innovative approach after spending some time as a student herself. Along with History and Global Studies teacher Andrew Syfu and Associate Director of College Counseling Emily McDowell, she is currently a candidate for a Master of Arts in Teacher Leadership with a Concentration in Independent Schools, at Mount Holyoke College. The two-year program, which was developed in partnership with Williston and the Ethel Walker School, offers professional development with a focus on the specific issues and challenges of teaching at private schools. Building on the Master of Arts in Teacher Leadership program that Mount Holyoke launched
in May 2015, it similarly allows teachers to pursue their degree while still working as full-time educators. The courses draw on the expertise of Mount Holyoke’s teacher-leaders-in-residence, along with Williston Director of Curriculum Kim Evelti, and are taught both in person and online using video conferencing. Ms. Michalski, Mr. Syfu, and Ms. McDowell began their coursework with three weeks of intensive classes last summer, and have continued with a lighter workload during the school year. “The experience has been both humbling and reaffirming,” reports Mr. Syfu. The two classes he has taken so far—The Inclusive Classroom, which explored learning differences, and Subject Specific Methodology— have been particularly eye opening. “My 11 years of living at Williston have taught me a lot about the adolescent mind, in and out of the classroom,” he says. “But these two courses have changed how I approach teaching. It’s been a lot of work, but it will be directly applicable to my job at Williston.” Ms. Evelti is now in the process of selecting the next class of Williston faculty to enter the program. Interested teachers submit applications, and Williston covers the cost of their tuition, thanks to funds endowed by generous alumni. Notes Head of School Robert W. Hill III: “Teacher excellence has always been a priority at Williston. This innovative program gives our faculty the opportunity to further their professional development in a format tailored to their needs and schedules.”
How does Williston continue to invest in teacher excellence? A new partnership with Mount Holyoke allows faculty to pursue advanced degrees during the school year and summer.
18 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
PORTRAIT BY MATTHEW CAVANAUGH
Girls hockey Coach Christa Talbot Syfu ’98 and her Wildcat skaters continue a tradition of hockey excellence. Turn the page to see how alumnae are making their mark throughout the women’s hockey world.
THE PUCK STARTS HERE
Led by Christa Talbot Syfu ’98, hockey alumnae are showing their skills at the college level and beyond. BY JONATHAN ADOLPH
Meg Rickard ’16
THE PROVIDENCE CONNECTION MEG RICKARD ’16 Forward • NEPSAC All Star 2016
RACHEL ROCKWELL ’16
For a sense of just how far women’s hockey has come in the past two decades, consider the story of Christa Talbot Syfu. Now Williston’s head coach, Christa came to the school as a student in 1996 after playing on what was the state of California’s first women’s hockey team. She made the U19 squad even though she was just 14. (Credit her parents, transplanted Minnesotans, for introducing her to the game early.) Williston debuted its girls hockey program in 1983, one of the first independent schools to do so (before that, girls—notably current Williston JV coach Molly Couch Ward ’82—played on the boys team). But the sport was still in its infancy. In 1990, roughly 6,000 female players were registered with USA Hockey and 15 varsity collegiate programs existed. Today, there are 73,000 registered players, and more than 100 NCAA Division I, II, and III programs. After Williston, Christa played at Providence College, and then coached at Hamilton College for a year before returning to Williston in 2003 to serve as assistant coach. She became head coach in 2004. In her last five years at the helm, her teams have amassed a remarkable record of 94 wins, 22 losses, and 14 ties, and qualified for post-season play six of the last seven years. Several players from her 2016 squad made the prestigious NEPSAC Division 1 all-star team. “Under Christa’s remarkable leadership, Williston girls hockey has achieved a level of excellence that has made it one of the very top prep programs in NEPSAC,” notes Athletic Director Mark Conroy. “At the heart of this success has been Christa’s commitment to supporting the success of each of her players. The fact that so many of them go on to successful college careers and beyond is a testament to her leadership.” Like the game of women’s hockey itself, Christa’s network— and the network of the Williston girls hockey program—continues to expand and gain influence. Pioneering alums and Christa’s former teammates are now coaching and playing at the top levels of the sport. Take a look. 20 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
Defense NEPSAC All Star 2015 and 2016 Rachel Rockwell ’16
Morgan Fisher ’16
Delaney Belinskas ’16
CURRENT COLLEGE PLAYERS 16 Wildcats are now playing: 7 in DI, 9 in DIII. Including:
DELANEY BELINSKAS ’16 Boston College, forward • Hockey East All-Rookie Team 2016-17 • 100-point scorer at Williston • NEPSAC All Star 2015, 2016
MORGAN FISHER ’16 University of Connecticut, goalie •NEPSAC All Star 2016 USA Hockey U18 team 2015
ALEX STARZYK ’13 Saint Anselm, forward • Conference MVP 2016 100-point scorer at Williston Named to the NEHC Conference Team
Alex Starzyk ’13
THE COLBY CONNECTION
SARAH WILKIE ’12 Defense on the first women’s DI team at Penn State • Captain 2015 and 2016
Meghann Treacy ’11
MEGHANN TREACY ’11 Colby assistant coach NEPSAC All Star 2011 Hockey East First Team All Star 2015 and captain for the University of Maine
IZZY TEGTMEYER ’16 Defense Izzy Tegtmeyer ’16
Sarah Wilkie ’12
Laura DiCarlo ’08
HEAD COACH: CHRISTA TALBOT SYFU ’98 WILLISTON ’96-’98 PROVIDENCE COLLEGE ’02 HAMILTON COACH ’02 WILLISTON COACH SINCE ’03 Home Ice: Lossone Arena
WINCHENDON SCHOOL LAURA DICARLO ’08 Jen Kroleski Gifford’99
Head Coach Captain at Hamilton College
NATIONAL WOMEN’S HOCKEY LEAGUE THE HAMILTON CONNECTION
KATHRYN TOMASELLI ’12 NEPSAC All Star 2012 • 100-point scorer at Williston • Union College, captain Boston Pride, forward
JEN KROLESKI GIFFORD ’99 Goalie (coached by Christa in ’02)
JULIE (HANEY) HENRY ’03 Defense Kathryn Tomaselli ’12 Julie (Haney) Henry ’03
SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 21
1 / BIRDS BY HAND
Inspired by his father’s decoy collection, Vermont wood-carver Gary Starr ’66 has been transforming local basswood into distinctively rendered birds and fish for 30 years. His collection of bird ornaments (each about 6 inches long) now numbers more than 70 species. $17.95 (indigo bunting and cardinal); starrdecoys.com
A roundup of intriguing products made by Wildcat artists, vintners, and entrepreneurs
2 / GREEN WINE
3 / BEAUTY ON A BUDGET
The new Nonie Creme Colour Prevails line of cosmetics recently debuted at Walgreens, but don’t even think about calling this a drugstore brand. Developed by Nonie Creme ’90, the former founding creative director of butter LONDON (and 2016 Commencement speaker), the makeup and nail products have gotten raves from fans who appreciate the quality and low price. $13 (for Lash Ombre Mascara); walgreens.com
John Hilliard ’72 and his wife, Christine Bruce, produce acclaimed Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on their 101-acre vineyard in California’s Santa Rita Hills, but as impressive as the product is the process. The vineyard is meticulously managed for sustainability, and the new winery is a LEED-certified building. $35 (2013 Chardonnay); Hilliardbruce.com
4 / ALL FIRED UP
Each piece of pottery that emerges from the wood-fired kilns of potter Simon Levin ’86 is one of a kind, and that’s precisely the point. The ashes from the fire react idiosyncratically with each pot, forming a unique natural glaze. The Wisconsin artist, writer, and Fulbright scholar describes the process as “painting with the fire.” $68 for bowl shown (prices vary); simonlevin.com 22 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY AND MATTHEW CAVANAUGH
In her candid address to Cum Laude inductees, Ann Laupheimer Sonnenfeld ’75 offered six pieces of invaluable life advice, a heavy dose of humor, and a look back at Williston in the 1970s.
Ann Laupheimer Sonnenfeld returned to Williston in January, 42 years after her graduation, to deliver the annual Cum Laude address. She had not set foot on campus since then, but, as she told her audience in a talk that mixed hard-won life advice with a heavy dose of humor, it seems like yesterday. “The Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead were wafting out from dorm room windows at Ford Hall and williston.com students were wearing plaid TO READ THE FULL ADDRESS, GO TO WWW.WILLISTONBLOGS.COM/ shirts, jeans, and clogs. ReSPEECHES markably enough, I am still wearing plaid shirts, jeans, and clogs much of the time.” Ms. Sonnenfeld, who has had a distinguished career in corporate and commercial litigation as a partner at Blank Rome, LLP, in Philadelphia, among many other achievements, characterized her talk as “the ’70s Cum Laude Address—recalling many people, things, and events you have never heard of and most likely don’t care about much.” We respectfully disagree, and think you will too. Below, we’ve excerpted her six pieces of advice (it was hard; she’s extremely funny!). To read the complete transcript or see a video of the speech, go to www.willistonblogs.com/speeches. MUCH IS FORGIVEN OF THOSE WHO ACHIEVE ACADEMICALLY.
When other things went wrong (which they often did), or I went off track (which I did in so many interesting and risky ways), academic achievement helped. Things were forgiven. Remember though, this can be also be a curse
because you may never learn anything from your mistakes until you are really old, like me. FIGURE OUT WHO YOU ARE AND TRY TO LIKE YOURSELF.
I wanted to be poetic and mystical and thin with straight blonde hair and an amazing voice—that was my aspiration. But what is the use when one cannot play the guitar, when one has a deep alto voice and was not and would never be thin? I suggest, forget it and realize that you CAN be something amazing and successful and that you, yourself may be good at math or science or be able to write essays, win arguments or tell jokes, or make robots or pottery or calligraphy or be the best friend there ever was. READING CAN SAVE YOUR SANITY AND EVEN YOUR LIFE.
I suspect all of you Cum Laudes understand the power of reading. For me, it began in fifth grade when I realized I could escape from just about anything with a book. Who cares about a distasteful unhappy family when there is a library within walking distance and a congenial librarian? Who cares that one has been rejected by a boy (or many boys) when you will never run out of books with happy endings? AEROBIC EXERTION CURES MANY BAD THINGS.
I was miserably homesick for the first month or so at boarding school. It was inexplicable to me. I hated my home, hated my parents, hated my siblings, hated my old school, yet I was terribly homesick. Mostly for my dog I think. But my bike was there for me. To escape school and my loathsome roommate, I rode my bike. Long distances. I rode to Northampton and rode to Amherst and took long aimless rides. I sang and rode. I daydreamed. INHIBITIONS ARE SOMETIMES GOOD.
I hope you all have more maturity than we had in the ’70s (you certainly cannot have less), and I know you have more information than we had. We didn’t even have the Internet for God’s sake. How did we find anything out??? CONSIDER THE DIFFERENT PATHS YOUR LIFE CAN TAKE—NOT JUST ONE.
Back in the ‘70s, people just never went to Machu Pichu, or hiked the Appalachian Trail or took a gap year. We didn’t even know these things existed! I thought you had to do one thing FOREVER AND EVER AND EVER and it had to be for money. I was so busy doing what I thought I should do, I didn’t consider what I wanted to do. It wasn’t until I was 50 that I figured out what was really important to me. My family, including my husband, three children, two dogs, and, yes, even the parrot; spending less time at work and more time exercising; needlepointing; gardening; and living in a house on this tiny island in Maine, Little Deer Isle, that looks out onto Penobscot Bay and the sunset. I am as happy as nature permits me to be. SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 23
ASK A WILDCAT
Why save the Siberian Tiger?
Dale Miquelle ’72 is a long way from his hometown of Boston. He worked as a conservation biologist in Alaska and Nepal before heading to Russia, where he’s the Country Director for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Russia Program and leads the Siberian Tiger Project at the Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Reserve. He hopes his work to track and study these endangered big cats helps, ultimately, to save them from extinction. BY KATE SNYDER
How did you become an expert on Siberian tigers?
I have always been fascinated by wild animals. Even at 10 years old, I was creating a “wildlife library” of articles from Ranger Rick and other kids’ magazines. There was a zoo within walking distance of our house, and I could spend hours watching animals there. After Williston, during an Outward Bound course in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, our group met a bear biologist. As he described his job, I was thinking, “This is what I want to do.” After I got an M.S. from the University of Minnesota, I was asked to join a project on Bengal tigers in Nepal. I was hooked.
“Working in the forests with wildlife is a lot less dangerous than walking in New York City at night: you need to know what you’re doing, use some common sense, and be prepared.”
Is your work ever dangerous?
We have conducted a project to capture and radio-collar tigers for nearly 20 years. Any time you decide to capture a large, dangerous predator, there is the potential for tragedy—either for the animal or the people. You do it only when you are sure the gains (knowledge) outweigh the potential costs. We set very strict rules of engagement. Fortunately, we never lost a tiger due to the collaring process. We did have a tiger break out of a snare and attack the closest person, who was approaching the animal to dart him. I had to scare off the tiger, a large male, using only a flare, a bit like the flares used for roadside accidents. Why do you track tigers?
There’s an incredible amount of information that can be gathered by following tiger tracks in the snow: where they travel, what they kill, how they communicate with each other (scent-marking trees), and basically, how tigers “think.” But there are things you can’t learn from snow-tracking that are essential to conserving tigers: how much space each individual needs, the social structure of the population, how often tigers need to make a kill to survive, and what tigers die from. We also use camera traps to develop estimates of abundance. Each tiger has a unique set of stripes (like human fingerprints) that allows us to identify and follow each individual over many years.
What threatens their survival?
Three specific threats: poaching of tigers for traditional medicines and their skins. Tigers could go extinct in the near future due to this insatiable demand. Then there are many “empty forests” in Asia because prey species have been killed by local people seeking protein. Finally, loss of habitat is the long-term threat. About 95 percent of tiger habitat that existed 150 years ago is gone. Tigers remain in scattered “islands” of forested habitat of Asia. If clearing of forests and continued expansion of human-dominated landscapes is not halted, tigers, and most wildlife of Asia—from orangutans to Asian elephants—are doomed.
“Can we save ourselves?” If we as a global community cannot find the space and the means to save tigers—a species so charismatic and culturally sacred in so many countries—then the odds of saving ourselves are indeed poor. We need to save tigers as much for our own sake as for theirs. Describe the view out your window.
The eastern horizon is an orange glow as the sun prepares to rise out of the Sea of Japan. To the north, west, and south our small village is surrounded by the Sikhote-Alin Reserve. The landscape is amazingly similar to northern New England—the same hills, the same forests and species of trees, but fewer people. Because we are at the merger point of Asia and the boreal north, we have an unusual combination of wildlife: tigers (from the south) and wolves (from the north); similarly Asian black bears and brown (grizzly) bears, leopards, and lynx. How did Williston contribute to your becoming a conservation biologist?
Williston fueled my intellectual curiosity, and encouraged thinking “outside the box.” Some of the most successful scientists are people who can look at a problem or question from a completely new perspective, so, as odd as it sounds, creativity and innovative thinking are key characteristics of successful scientists. Williston certainly provided me with teachers and an environment that forced me to think critically. Any advice for would-be biologists?
What kind of equipment do you use?
Nobody in our team carries rifles or any kind of defense except bear spray and flares that can be used to scare animals. Working in the forests with wildlife is a lot less dangerous than walking in New York City at night: you need to know what you’re doing, use some common sense, and be prepared. Can we save tigers?
An answer to the question, “Can we save tigers?” is really the answer to an even starker question:
Get involved with the local wildlife department. Volunteer wherever and whenever you can for wildlife projects, even if they are only remotely related to what you want to do. Give 110 percent in whatever you do—people will remember that, more than the details of what was accomplished. Finding work is about making relationships with people, so learn how to be an effective communicator and how to make contact with people. Wildlife conservation is really about managing people—not wildlife—so skills in working with people will be critical to success. SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 25
Kate Risley ’93 (front right, red jacket) with her teammates at the 1993 NEPSAC ski championships, and above, with her father and stepmother at her graduation.
A TRUE TEAMMATE Kate Risley ’93 had a gift for finding excellence in people. A new scholarship in her name passes those ideals forward. —BY KEVIN MARKEY
After 25 years, the camaraderie still leaps off the page. It’s the 1993 NEPSAC ski championship, and Williston’s varsity girls pose for a photo: Eight young athletes, smiling widely, delighted by the day, by their own prowess, and by each other’s company. The brightest smile may belong to senior co-captain Kate Risley ’93. “Katie was passionate about being part of a team,” remembers her father, John Risley. “Team sports were a gateway for her to go through and try some other things with the confidence she’d earned.” Three short years after the photo was taken,
Kate died in a boating accident. On the 20th anniversary of her untimely passing, the Risley family last fall established the Kate Risley ’93 Scholarship Fund. The permanently endowed fund will support financial aid for students who bring the same passion and committment to Williston that Kate did. “I think for Kate, the power of team was the most important aspect of playing sports,” says John, who is the founder of Risley Sports Photography. He started the business after a career in higher education, and much of his motivation came
26 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
from a cherished shot of Kate playing lacrosse at the College of Wooster, where she was set to become captain her senior year. “I wanted to capture the determination and intensity and passion young athletes bring to the field,” he says. At Williston, Kate earned varsity letters in tennis, skiing, soccer, and lacrosse, but no field could contain her many facets. A gifted visual artist and an accomplished creative writer, she was majoring in English at Wooster and planning to become a teacher. At the time of her death, the college president called her “the quintessential student.” Williston history teacher Peter Gunn remembers Kate as “always willing to be inspired, willing to be challenged. The smile, the wrinkling of her brow as she concentrated, her sharp wit and warm heart: those all come flowing back. Kate Risley made me look forward to class every day.” One of Peter’s favorite memories involves running into Kate at a restaurant the summer before her senior year. He was with Robin Legge, who also taught at Williston.
Spotting the couple, Kate came over to say hi. Then she looked at Robin’s left hand. “Really?” she demanded, seeing no engagement ring. Then, looking at Peter: “When are you going to make the best decision of your life?” The Gunns will celebrate their 22nd wedding anniversary this June. “Kate had a gift for finding the and nuturing the excellence in people,” Peter says. “She wanted everyone to imagine and realize their best selves.” The instinct finds expression in a poem Kate dedicated to her Wooster lacrosse teammates. Extolling the virtues of teamwork, she wrote: “A catch cannot be made unless someone makes a pass. / A pass cannot be made until someone puts the ball in the air. / Together we create a singular power.” The subject is lacrosse, but really Kate was talking about faith, confidence, the strength that comes with committing to a common cause—ideals memorialized by the Kate Risley ’93 Scholarship Fund. Through the generosity of the Risley family, future students will have help in finding their excellence.
PORTRAITS BY JAMI SAUNDERS
Fresh off our 175th birthday, Williston hit the road this year for a slew of alumni parties from coast to coast. Here, David Stevens ’62 and his sister Ruth Stevens joined alumni and faculty for Williston’s holiday gathering at the New York Yacht Club in December. For more alumni events, turn the page.
SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 27
RINGING IN THE HOLIDAYS
We were delighted to see hundreds of alumni dressed in their festive best at holiday receptions in New York and Boston this past December. If you weren’t able to join us, here’s a peek at the fun.
On December 7, Williston Northampton Fund co-chairs and trustees Clay Hardon ’78 and Claire Kelley Hardon ’79 welcomed guests to the New York Yacht Club. Against the twinkly backdrop of the club’s famous model room, Head of School Bob Hill spoke about campus news and his vision for the school. Other trustees at the event included
WILDCATS IN THE WINDY CITY
Alumni in Chicago enjoyed a great evening at the Union League Club of Chicago, hosted by Alby Miller ’95 and his wife, Anne Uible. Guests caught up with friends, networked, and heard Head of School Bob Hill talk about Williston’s 176th year (and beyond!).
TACOS IN THE BIG APPLE
In October, young alumni in New York City caught up over snacks and margaritas at a pop-up event at the festive midtown eatery Salvation Taco. Watch for pop-ups in your neighborhood!
28 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
Board Chairman John Hazen White Jr. ’76, Mary Alcock ’84, Reid Sterrett ’91, Dan Decelles ’89, Richard Monopoli ’89, and William Fogg P’15. Making the trek from campus were faculty members Sarah and Matt Sawyer, Peter Gunn, Jen Fulcher, and Kathryn Hill, and Admission staff Lee Greener ’06, Chris Dietrich, and Ann Pickrell.
WILLISTON HEADS WEST!
Sunshine, warm weather, and enthusiastic alumni welcomed Williston to the West Coast. Find more details at willistonblogs.com/ alumni.
Alumni from the classes of 1945 to 2016 gathered high above Boston at the Downtown Harvard Club on December 13. After being welcomed by trustee, parent, and Williston Northampton Parents Fund co-chair Brad Foster P’14, ’16, ’20, guests enjoyed a surprise visit by the student a capella group, The WildChords, and student pianist Yana Pyryalina
’18. Former Board of Trustees Chairman and current Board Secretary Fred Allardyce ’59 GP’19, ’20 was there, as were many familiar faculty and decades of alumni ranging from William D. Williams ’45 to Abbie Foster ’16. Guests seemed to agree: The Williston spirit was joyful, strong, and thriving in Boston.
On November 10, the Weinstein Gallery was home to a night of fine art, wine, and good cheer. Thanks to host David Connolly ’83, alumni from 1957 to 2003 enjoyed exceptional Northern California wines. Phil Groman and John Houghton, both ’57, represented the 60th reunion class, alongside alumni from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and ’00s, including Alex Teece ’04, who was in town from Hawaii to say aloha!
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JAMI SAUNDERS AND MELANIE TATA
ALUMNI GOT GAME In January, former Wildcats returned to take on students in alumni basketball and hockey games. Mike Jackson ’90 coached an A-game hoops squad from the classes of ’01, ’91, and ’95, and Stephen Goldsmith ’15 was named MVP. Over at Lossone Rink, 20 alumni laced up their skates for a fast-paced and fun-filled co-ed game. Wildcat alumni Kathryn Tomaselli ’12 (see page 20) and Steve Mollo ’10 were chosen as MVPs for their awe-inspiring ability to put the biscuit in the basket.
On November 13, Cliff Selbert ’71 welcomed alumni from the classes of 1947 to 2012 to the Viceroy in Santa Monica. Wildcats working in design, finance, medicine, technology, and entertainment (hey, it’s LA!) caught up over mimosas, coffee, and brunch. Frances Feuer ’47, Carol Boyd ’69, and Pat Bone ’65 represented NSFG, along with more than 20 other alumni (including a robust showing from the ’00s classes).
SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 29
REUNITED IN GERMANY An epic gathering of alums revived memories and strengthened ties. —BY BILL ANTHONY ’66
n September 16, a group of 11 former exchange students from Williston Ac a d e m y a n d Theodor-Heuss-Gymnasium met to share memories and reflections on the exchange experience and the profound impact it had on everyone’s lives, personally and professionally. The next evening, they gathered; 10 men and one woman, four Americans and seven Germans, in a villa tucked in the midst of vineyards overlooking Heilbronn, Germany. They stood up and proudly sang “Arise, Sons of Williston.” It was a capstone moment near the end of a magical reunion of “Ehemalige” (former) exchange students—now more advanced in years—participants in a school-toschool exchange program that started in 1956 and ceased some 20 years later. In total, the program exchange included 32 participants: 17 from the Theodor-Heuss-Gymnasium and 15 from Williston Academy and the Williston Northampton School—29 men and 3 women. Nearly 40 percent of the former “exchangers” still living were present for the reunion, making that evening even more special. During the months preceding the reunion, these former exchange students began swapping stories and old photos, the highlights of which were lively email (and letter) exchanges with the first two German
and American exchangers, Franz Schmitt-von Muehlenfels ’57 and Corby Finney ’57. Although neither Franz nor Corby could attend the reunion, they were very much “present” with their remarkable recollections of Phil Stevens and Karl Weiss and their vivid memories of school life not long after the war. Franz shared a photo someone had taken of him running the high hurdles on a wooden track that winter—next to the headmaster’s Homestead! In one letter, Franz recalls Coach Laurent bellowing “Franz, watch your language!” on his megaphone after Franz shouted an obscenity when he overstepped the foul line for his broad jump. In yet another letter, Franz vividly recalled the “I like IKE!” buttons from that very different election 60 years ago. In a way, these stories “seeded” the stories that were later told with great gusto all that weekend in Heilbronn, beginning with the opening dinner, hosted by Ulrich Schneider ’60 and his partner, Petra Rothfuss. As the exchangers around the table introduced themselves and their partners, any concerns they might have harbored about spending an awkward weekend with complete strangers quickly were dispelled as they recognized kindred spirits in their shared memories. The exchange functioned with quiet regularity from its start in 1956 until its final year, 1975, around the time when Williston Academy, now
30 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
Eleven former exchange students gathered in a villa tucked in the midst of vineyards overlooking Heilbronn, Germany, stood up and proudly sang “Arise, Sons of Williston.”
the Williston Northampton School, closed its German language program. In its final years, after Williston Northampton became co-ed, the once all-male exchange included several young women from both schools. The exchange was founded by former Williston Headmaster Phillips Stevens and Director of the Theodor-HeussGymnasium Karl Weiss, following a visit by Weiss to Easthampton in the winter of 1956. When Weiss received a warm welcome—and, according to Phil Stevens, the only standing ovation that Willistonians had ever given a guest speaker—the
idea took root. (Franz Schmitt ’57, who was eyewitness to that speech, recalled that Weiss’ talk about God and nature was a lively counterpart to the sober Congregationalist backdrop, something he says the boys particularly appreciated.) Stevens had spent two summers in Germany in 1937 and ’38, while a teacher at the South Kent School, earning his master’s in German at Middlebury. Later, as Williston’s headmaster, he and Weiss, both dedicated educators, almost certainly shared a common interest in re-establishing post-war U.S.-German relations by means of
YOU CAN READ MORE ABOUT SARAH STEVENS HERE: WILLISTONBLOGS.COM/OBITUARIES
PAYING TRIBUTE TO BELOVED SARAH STEVENS
PHOTOGRAPHY PROVIDED BY BILL ANTHONY
From left: Charlie Benoit ’60, who stayed at Ulrich and Petra’s home for two weeks, Ron Gwiazda ’62 with Connie Horton, Bill Anthony ’66, and Arch Bryant ’68 with Jeanne. “Exchangers” included Peter Hertner ’59 with Catherine, Ulrich Schneider ’60 with Petra Rothfuss, Peter Fischer ’61, Manfred Balz ’63, Konrad Roth ’67 with Ingrid, Lutz Wegner ’68, and Ulrike Brandenberger ’72
a simple school-to-school,exchange. The origin of this exchange is all the more remarkable given the fact that Phil Stevens’ younger brother, David, a U.S. infantryman, was killed in Germany near the end of the war and that Karl Weiss had been a prisoner of war. Thus, the founding of this exchange, quite literally on the rubble of war, barely a decade after war’s end, was truly an act of practical idealism carried out by two consummate educators who shared deep mutual respect for each other’s culture, and who sought to ensure that the next generation of students knew a more peaceful world.
Approximately 130 guests visited campus last August to celebrate the life of Sarah Wallis Stevens, the former “First Lady” of Williston, who passed away in February 2016. The turnout (on a brutally hot and humid weekend) was a testament to the lives she touched. Sarah Stevens was the wife of Phillips Stevens, headmaster of Williston Academy from 1949 to 1972. The school, founded in 1841 as Williston
Seminary, merged with the Northampton School for Girls in 1971 to form the coed Williston Northampton School. Described as a woman of “extraordinary warmth and empathy,” Stevens provided care and guidance to thousands of Williston Academy students, said her daughter Ruth P. Stevens, who lives in New York City.
RINGING IN SPRING IN FLORIDA PALM BEACH
Board Chair John Hazen White Jr. ’76 hosted a gathering at the Palm Beach Yacht Club. Alumni from the ’50s to the ’90s enjoyed cocktails on the dock and conversations in the Admirals Club.
Alumni savored a wine tasting hosted by trustee Mijanou Malise Spurdle ’86 and Craig Spurdle ’86. Guests caught up and sampled delicious Italian wines led by sommelier Fabio Tripputi.
Williston and NSFG alumni and a stong showing of former faculty enjoyed a beautiful gulf view and brunch, thanks to event hosts Betsy and Doug Elder ’54, GP ’05, ’08, and Kathy Krohn ’75.
A big contingent of parents, faculty, friends, and alumni cheered the Wildcat baseball team to a tie game against the Ontario Blue Jays, then gathered for snacks and drinks at Mulligans at the Beach.
Look online for an event near you this spring. And come to REUNION!
SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 31
THE TASTE OF SUCCESS WITH FRESH IDEAS AND ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT, WILLISTON ALUMS ARE MAKING THEIR MARK IN THE FOOD BUSINESS BY JONATHAN ADOLPH
PHOTOS BY RYAN DEARTH AND ZOË FRANÇOIS
Pete ’84 (left) and Paul ’89 Marczyk, the Williston alums behind Marczyk Fine Foods in Denver, have redefined the neighborhood grocery store. Read their story on page 36.
MAKING SERIOUS BREAD
RESTAURANT AND BAKERY OWNER TARIT TANJASIRI ’82 IS A PASSIONATE ADVOCATE FOR FOOD PREPARED WELL
s a teenager at Williston, Tarit Tanjasiri ’82 looked forward to the days when he could walk into Easthampton for a hot slice at Village Pizza. Now, as the owner of the popular Crema Café in Seal Beach, California, and a new wholesale business, Crema Artisan Bakers, he looks forward to his trips to Europe to learn the finer points of making exceptional breads and pastries. Circumstances may have changed for Tarit, but his appreciation for good food has not. “In one way, I’m super picky. In other ways, I’m certainly not,” he explains. “I’m a street-vendor person. I could eat anything. But it needs to be made well. A street-food person could be the one who really respects the food they are making, and the fancy restaurant could be just throwing food together and not caring.” In his own baking and restaurant offerings, care and respect for the food are paramount. It’s an approach that resonates with his appreciative customers. They line up for innovations such as the confection
34 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
“Everybody just wants to cut corners where they can,” says Tarit. “That’s not my thing.”.
PORTRAITS BY JEFF SINGER
he dreamed up after a recent trip to Germany to study pretzel making—the pretzel croissant. “It’s brown and has the texture of a pretzel, but when you bite into it, it’s layered and soft and buttery and crunchy,” Tarit explains. “We also make chocolate pretzel croissants, with sea salt and sesame seeds. I think it’s the best thing coming out of our bakery.” High praise, indeed, considering that his recently opened wholesale bakery in Irvine, California, puts out an impressive lineup of artisan and sourdough breads, bagels, tarts, pastries, muffins, and more. “I find there are not that many people who are that committed to doing something really well,” he says. “Everybody wants to just cut corners where they can. That’s not my thing.” This quality-first approach has been a hallmark of Crema Café, the breakfast and lunch restaurant he opened in 2006. Soon after, unsatisfied with the commercial bread available, he learned artisan bread baking from a master baker friend and, six years later, opened an attached bakery so he could expand Crema’s offerings. Still, Tarit doesn’t think of himself as a chef. “I never went through appropriate training or school for it,” he explains. “I’m more of an entrepreneur who loves to cook and bake.” Raised in Thailand (his father was a banker and farmer who also loved to cook), he attended school in Singapore before Williston, then earned his degree in economics from the University of Southern California. After a few years in Hawaii, where he windsurfed and developed real estate by day and worked in a Thai restaurant by
At his new commercial bakery, Tarit produces artisan breads, pastries, muffins, tarts, and —of course—his popular croissants.
TARIT AT A GLANCE Williston Class 1982 Home Base Irvine, California Occupation Chef and owner of Crema Café and Crema Artisan Bakers Favorite Television Show about Baking: Cooked, the four-part Netflix series based on the book by Michael Pollan, specifically the episode “Air,” which focused on bread. “It was fantastic.”
night, he returned to California and eventually made the leap to the restaurant business full time. He bought his first place, Emerson’s in Studio City, in 1993, from a couple who had run it as a coffee house. “The learning curve was huge,” he remembers. “All my friends were established chefs—they are French and had paid their dues already— and I really envied their lifestyle. Getting into it, I was hit with the reality that it’s the hardest industry to survive in. There’s constant work, and the more successful you are, the more work you have. It’s not the other way around.” Three other breakfast and lunch restaurants would come and go before he opened Crema, and then, last fall, the wholesale bakery in Irvine. Tarit couldn’t be more pleased with how the new business is going. “It turned out to be a company I’d been waiting for all my life. I love what I’m doing now more than ever. We make beautiful things. People are much more appreciative of a bite into a good croissant than a good burger.” Especially, we should note, if it’s a croissant that looks like a pretzel and is filled with chocolate. To stay at the top of his game, Tarit travels regularly to learn from other chefs. For his bread and pastries, he visits France every two years or so, a trip that he notes is also “an excuse to travel.” Accompanying him is his wife, Sora, the chair of the Department of Health Science at Cal State Fullerton. “Baking is like learning a foreign language,” Tarit says. “There’s no shortcut to learning it. You can’t just wake up one day and know how to speak the language. That’s how baking is. More than 15 years into baking now, and I’m still learning all the time.” SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 35
MILE-HIGH SUCCESS WITH THEIR UPSCALE COLORADO SPECIALTY FOOD STORES, THE MARCZYK BROTHERS ARE REDEFINING THE NEIGHBORHOOD GROCER
s the Marczyk Fine Foods story goes, back in 2002 Pete Marczyk was fed up with having to drive all over Denver to find the quality ingredients he demanded for his favorite dishes. So he raised the money, hired the staff, and opened the neighborhood grocery store he had always wished for. Here was sustainably
raised meat from family farms, specialty foods imported from Italy, exceptional charcuterie and cheeses, milk in glass bottles, local products from Colorado, and so much more. His wife, Barbara Macfarlane, a marketing and public relations pro, helped spread the word. A year and a half later, Pete’s younger brother, Paul, joined the team as manager of operations.
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The brothers opened a second Denver location in 2011, and are currently expanding to two more stores. Meanwhile, Marczyk Fine Foods consistently receives raves on Yelp and other social media, specifically for the quality of their sandwiches, meats, cheeses, and selection. They continue to innovate in their offerings, adding an in-house bakery, developing new selections
of prepared foods, and putting on a range of community-building special events and celebrations. But before all this, the brothers were Easthampton kids. When Pete didn’t fit in at the public high school, a teacher suggested Williston—and it “changed my life,” Pete says. An avid swimmer, he soared on the swim team, joined the Caterwaulers, and forced himself to take Williston’s
PORTRAITS BY RYAN DEARTH
most challenging courses—all while holding down part-time jobs to help pay for tuition, including selling eggs from his family’s chickens, mowing lawns, and washing dishes in Williston’s kitchen. “Growing up where I did,” he says, “if you painted or sang or cooked, you were called names that would be frowned upon today. But Williston broadened my view of what was cool. There was a level of permission that I got intellectually and psychologically about doing what really mattered to me. And I was exposed to a lot of new things in terms of foods, and not just from the dining hall. I had good relationships with the faculty. I got to interact with the teachers on a more intimate and personal level. I would mow their lawns and have lunch with them. It was exposure, and it opened my eyes to what was out there in the world.” Their Pioneer Valley upbringing continues to influence the Marczyk’s business decisions. “In Easthampton, we had chickens and rabbits,” Pete explains. “I grew up with flavors and tastes that were very special and specific to me. When I moved to Denver, there was no food culture. It was very clear to me that there was something missing in the soul. We source incredible ingredients to sell to our neighbors. Paul makes the most incredible four-ingredient baguettes you’ve ever had in your life. Flour, water, yeast, and salt. You couldn’t find a better baguette in Paris.” Paul’s journey from Williston Wildcat to Colorado merchant is a bit more circuitous. In 1992, he moved to Denver and began brewing beer, a profession he would master over the next 12 years, helping to spark the local craft-beer industry. He opened new breweries in Las Vegas and Colombia before joining
MARCZYKS AT A GLANCE Williston Classes Pete 1984, Paul 1989
Pete (left) and Paul take a rare work break. Opposite page: Inside Marczyk Fine Foods customers can expect fresh-baked baguettes and eager service from Pete.
his brother as manager of operations at Marczyk’s. His previous skill and craft at brewing, he says, eased his move into the artisan bread world. “Bread is that vehicle that lets you take a once-a-week customer to a four-times-a-week customer, especially if you’re making a high-quality product,” he says. “So we went back to Vermont for a one-week King Arthur baking class, and I came back to work and everything I learned from brewing instantly became bread. We became bakers overnight.” Paul also bakes bread at home, with his wife, Cheriese, and two
Home Base Denver, Colorado Occupations Cofounder and CEO (Pete) and President and COO (Paul) of Marczyk Fine Foods
sons, his way of sharing “simple meals that are delicious that everyone will eat. Both my wife and I work, probably too much, and we make sure we sit down as a family three to four times a week and have dinner together.” That balancing act between work and family is a constant reality for the Marczyks as small-business owners, but they thrive on testing themselves, just as they did in school. “We take our jobs as neighborhood grocers very seriously,” says Pete. “It truly is an interesting business, and it’s just as hard as everyone says it is
Did You Know? Pete hosted a Rocky Mountain PBS Web series called Great Ingredients.
to make a nickel. Paul and I have a history of having to work hard and enjoying it. We knew it would be difficult and we take a lot of pride in the fact that it’s as hard as it is. At Williston, I always tried to take the hardest classes I could handle, not the easiest. Swimming is a notoriously hard sport. So our path has always been one of taking on challenges. Williston certainly prepared us for that.” SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 37
WHETHER HE’S SELLING FROZEN YOGURT, ARTISANAL CHEESE, OR CRAFT BEER, ALEX FEINSTEIN ’03 PROMOTES THE BENEFITS OF PIONEER VALLEY FOODS
f you believe as strongly as Alex Feinstein ’03 does in the community-building power of local foods, you have to be willing to put your money where you think our mouths should be. His two businesses—GoBerry, a two-store frozen yogurt chain, and Provisions, a boutique offering fine wine, craft beers, and specialty cheeses and meats—do just that, celebrating and supporting the economy of the Pioneer Valley by offering a host of locally sourced products. “We’ve been passionate about working locally,” Alex explains, noting, for example, that all of the milk and yogurt used at GoBerry is from
local farms. “That’s one thing I like to do as much as possible. Trying to source things locally, and eat locally as much as possible.” A Northampton native, Alex was a water polo player at Williston and continued playing at Connecticut College, where he met his future wife and partner, Molly, at the pool (she was a swimmer). After graduating in 2007 with a degree in anthropology and a minor in philosophy, he took a job in finance and IT for Ze-gen, a now-defunct renewable energy start-up in Boston that was working to create a synthetic gas to compete with natural gas. As the fourth employee, he helped raise
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money and establish a test facility, and “learned a lot about how to run and grow a business.” But after three years he was ready to start his own. “It was something I had always wanted to do. As a kid, I would come up with inventions and different business ideas. I always thought that I would end up doing something on my own.” As it happened, Molly had developed an allergy to milk fat and could eat only nonfat dairy products. That led to their discovery of nonfat frozen yogurt, which soon became a shared obsession. And even though the frozen yogurt craze was sweeping Boston, the couple noticed that
there was nothing west of Worcester. They sensed an opportunity. They launched GoBerry in Northampton in 2010 and a second store in Amherst in 2011, offering locally sourced frozen yogurt, local berries in season, and toppings of every imaginable variety. “Molly and I work really well together,” Alex notes. “We have really complementary skills.” Molly worked with the employees and people; Alex handled the books, payroll, and back-end jobs. Still, running a business is a test. “The hard part is the long hours. Even when you’re not there, you’re thinking about it.” With GoBerry established, Alex turned to a new endeavor. He wanted
PORTRAITS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
At Provisions in Northampton, Alex offers a variety of regional specialties, including local wine and cheese.
to start a “great, hand-selected wine store in the heart of Northampton,” and eventually he and a group of partners, including his wine-enthusiast cousin, transformed a former Pilates studio downtown into Provisions, a boutique specializing in fine wine, craft beer, and specialty foods—most notably a full-service cheese and meat counter. Alex was not actively involved in the running of the business until two years ago, when two of the partners left. Now, he and his cousin are the sole co-owners. The business had been struggling before Alex returned to help out, but “we managed to turn things around,” he reports. “The last two years have
ALEX AT A GLANCE Williston Class 2003 Home base Northampton, Massachusetts Occupation Owner of Provisions in Northampton and GoBerry frozen yogurt in Northampton and Amherst Favorite GoBerry Frozen Yogurt Flavor Mango. “Always has been. It tastes like a frozen mango lassi. It’s the best thing ever.”
been the most successful we’ve had here, one after the other, and I hope to continue in that direction.” One key, he says, was “getting the business more involved in the community. We’ve gone a lot more into local stuff. We have a lot of local cheeses, we have a ton of local beer, we have a handful of local wines. We do that as much as possible.” Which all ties in to his view that local prosperity depends on local actions. “There’s definitely a lot that can happen in the political realm, but ultimately it really does come back to the consumer,” he says. “Sure, I use Amazon, but I like to look around and think, ‘Can I buy this locally? Can I
support a small business in my area?’ I think that really helps drive an economy and create local jobs. It can be difficult or more expensive, but I do think people are moving more in that direction. I like to think that the motivation is there worldwide.” Alex’s life has become even more full in recent years. He now cares for his two young sons two days a week, after Molly took a full-time job last year. Still, he is always thinking about new opportunities. “I don’t think there’s anything in the cards for 2017,” he says. “But what really inspires me is starting businesses. I love problemsolving and creation. So I don’t think I am done at this point.” SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 39
A CHANCE ENCOUNTER TRANSFORMED ZOË FRANÇOIS ’85 FROM PASTRY CHEF TO BREAD-BAKING GURU
Got five minutes? With Zoë’s technique, you can have fresh-baked bread every day.
ife-changing opportunities have a way of presenting themselves in unexpected places, so perhaps Zoë (Neal) François ’85 should not have been so quick to dismiss the crazy idea suggested by the dad she met at her son’s toddler music class back in 2003. Jeff Hertzberg was a busy doctor who had come up with a time-saving technique for making
bread: Stir up a big batch of wet dough, then just keep it in the fridge for a couple weeks, pulling off hunks to bake as needed. Zoë, a trained pastry chef lauded for her work in acclaimed Twin Cities restaurants, could only shake her head. “He asked me to try it, and I held off for a long time because I thought he was completely nuts,” she recalls. “The recipe flew in the face of
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everything I knew about baking, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.” Finally she gave in. Creating the master recipe of flour, water, salt, and yeast was a matter of simply stirring together the ingredients. Each day she’d pull a handful of dough from the fridge and have a loaf in the oven in five minutes. Crazy, perhaps, but what came out was handcrafted artisan bread: warm, crusty, and unlike
anything that comes in a plastic bag. “I knew how intimidated people were about bread,” Zoë says. “So I was like, ‘You have got to get this in front of people.’ He said, ‘I’ll write a book if you do it with me.’” Some 400,000 copies later, it’s clear that Zoë made the right decision. The pair’s Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day helped spawn a bread-baking movement that continues today, and
PORTRAITS BY ANNA RADJIL
the six “five minutes a day” books have sold a combined 750,000 copies. In the process, the authors have attracted a devoted following that shares stories and appreciation on Zoë and Jeff’s blog, breadin5.com. Zoë also blogs and writes extensively on her own, and teaches courses on baking around the country. Not bad for a kid who grew up in communes and cults, and attended 14 different schools by the time she entered Williston. “My dad was a wandering hippie,” she explains. “We went all over the country looking for his awakening. That all seemed very normal to me because it was all I knew. But when I was in high school, my mom realized that I didn’t know how to learn. I was a smart kid and I was getting by, miraculously, but she realized I needed something a little more formal and a little more stable. So they sent me to Williston. And it was really profound. I wasn’t moving for two years and I had enough time to see who I was.” That unconventional childhood also had a lasting impact on Zoë’s approach to food. “Growing up, sugar was honey, and we had no refined flour in the house,” she explains. “My parents told me that raisins were candy. So I was a little pissed off when I got to public school and realized there were Twinkies in the world. I’m a pastry chef now, so my philosophy is I will eat everything, but I’m very aware of what I’m eating. I do things in moderation. I think that being rigid and worrying is actually worse for you than just eating in moderation.” After Williston, Zoë studied art and English at the University of Vermont. Her dad was a friend of ice cream’s Ben and Jerry, so as a student she worked at their Burlington shop, making ice cream cakes. For a business class assignment, she developed
ZOË AT A GLANCE Williston Class 1985 Home Base Minneapolis, Minnesota
Because one cannot live by bread alone, Zoë still creates confections like this Vanilla Bean Cake with Orange Blossom Honey Buttercream. See more desserts at zoebakes.com.
a plan for a cookie company that got her so excited that she took a year off to launch it. She baked her gourmet Zoë’s Cookies in her apartment and sold them from a vending cart. She left school thinking she would go into business, and got a job in marketing. All of this, she now sees, was a way of rebelling against her upbringing, and it wasn’t who she really was. “I was doing this marketing job, but I hated it so much that I would come home and bake all night.” When her husband suggested she go to culinary school, she left Minneapolis and
Occupation Pastry chef, baker, writer, blogger Most Recent Project The seventh and final book of her “fiveminutes-a-day” series, on breads for holidays and celebrations. For that, she has been working on perfecting a brioche.
headed off to the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Soon after, she got a job as pastry chef with Andrew Zimmern, at the time a Minneapolis chef and not yet the TV personality known for eating bizarre foods. That was a breakthrough. “Working with Andrew was amazing for me,” Zoë says. “He’s an incredible chef but even more so, he’s an incredible businessperson. What I learned from Andrew was how to actually craft this into a living, which is almost more valuable than what he could have taught me as a chef.”
After a successful run in the restaurant business, Zoë took a break to raise her two sons. But, as she would soon discover, accompanying toddlers to music class turned out to be her very best career move. “When Jeff and I started this we had no expectations,” she says. “We thought the book would make a great Christmas gift for my parents. I had no idea when I said yes to writing that this would be my life.” SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 41
HE’S GOT THE NACK INSPIRED BY A DREAM, PAUL HAUN ’02 CREATED AN APP THAT LETS YOU SHARE THE PLEASURES OF COFFEE.
s many would-be entrepreneurs will tell you, it’s never easy to leave a secure job to follow your dream of starting a business. But Paul Haun ’02, creator of the coffee-sharing app Nack, had a dream so strong it left him no choice. One pivotal night three years ago, a cousin who had recently died came to him as he slept, urging him to make his move. Paul had played hockey at Williston and was very close with his cousin, Tom Cavanagh, a star forward at Harvard who had been drafted by the NHL’s San Jose Sharks and enjoyed a successful career in
the AHL. What few knew, however, was that despite his achievements in hockey, Tom was battling mental illness. “We grew up playing hockey together and remained close after college,” Haun explains. “And still we didn’t know. Back then, it wasn’t something people talked about.” In January 2011, at age 28, Tom lost his battle. Paul and his cousin had spent a lot of time together in the months before his death. Tom sensed that he had a problem, but he didn’t know what it was. He was considering going to law school. The cousins would brainstorm ideas for businesses and Tom would constantly urge Paul,
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“We need to execute! Execute!” Tom’s death hit Paul hard. For a time, he was tormented by the same dream, in which he tries to save Tom’s life. One night, in December 2013, Tom looked at Paul in his dream and said, simply, “Execute.” “It was very real,” Paul says, “enough for me to wake up, and I said, ‘I’m going to start my own company today. The next business idea I have, I’m running with it.’” That morning, picking up a cup of coffee for his wife at Dunkin’ Donuts, something clicked. It would be the beginning of what would eventually become Nack, an app that lets you buy coffee for others and
leave them a customized message, revealed only after they have their coffee in hand. It also lets you buy “Random Acts of Coffee” to leave for others and lets you claim coffee for yourself. As the company puts it: “The feeling we get from the first cup of coffee of the day— it’s a treasured moment. What if there was a way to share that feeling with the world? With Nack, you can.” As a kid, Paul knew he wanted to work for himself someday. “I always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I had the lemonade stand as a kid. I was playing in Monopoly tournaments growing up here in Rhode Island.” But after graduating from Boston Uni-
PORTRAITS BY JESSE BURKE
Paul Haun’s Nack app lets you buy coffee for others and share a message that they receive only after they have their coffee in hand.
versity with a BS in economics and a minor in business administration, he began working as a financial service representative. Before he knew it, he had been doing it for eight years. The dream changed all that. Paul quit his job (at the time, his wife was pregnant with their oldest child), and after raising seed money from friends, family, and investors, launched a first version of the Nack app in 2014. He now has Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and numerous smaller coffee shops on board, and is in the process of securing a second round of funding to develop the app’s next version, which will offer more ways to share your “reveal” message and let you
PAUL AT A GLANCE Williston Class 2002 Home Base Warwick, Rhode Island Occupation Founder and CEO of Kaneland, maker of the Nack app Favorite Coffee A large banana hazelnut ice coffee with milk and one Splenda Local Coffee Shop Brewed Awakenings, a Rhode Island chain and early Nack partner
specify who you are buying your random coffee for: a teacher, say, or a firefighter, or veteran. That ability to personalize the message has been a strong selling point with companies looking for new ways to recognize employees. With a typical gift card, Paul notes, “two weeks later, when you go to buy that coffee at Starbucks, you’re not even thinking of who gave it to you. By having the messaging released only when you get to the coffee shop, you’re better able to associate the sender with the coffee in your hand.” Another breakthrough was Random Acts of Coffee, a pay-it-forward feature modeled on the Italian tradi-
tion of buying a caffé sospeso, or suspended coffee, for others who might be down on their luck. The possibility that a free coffee might be waiting for you turns the morning coffee shop ritual into an augmented reality game like Pokémon Go. More importantly, it encourages users to open the app regularly, a key to an app’s success. All of these insights have been part of a learning process that has tested Paul at times. In fact, he says, “If I knew what it was going to take to build this business, I don’t know that I would have started on this journey.” But at the same time, he has some powerful motivation: a dream that he just can’t forget. SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 43
Coming to campus for a visit or Reunion? Spend some time in Willistonâ€™s buzzing hometown, starting with these local hot spots. Illustrations by ZOE PAPPENHEIMER
Photographs by JOANNA CHATTMAN SPRING 2017 BULLETIN 45
he crumbs of a cheddar and pesto bagel are all that’s left of Christie Lee’s breakfast. Now, sitting at a small table at Tandem Bagel Company, a bagel café on the edge of campus, the Williston junior turns her attention to a YouTube video on her iPad. She’s giving herself permission to relax. The bagel fueled her last few paragraphs on a paper about Shakespeare’s Henry V. Around her, other students stand in line. But Tandem isn’t just a Williston haunt. Nearby, a mother watches as her toddler plays with blocks. Two old-timers sit in the back, newspapers stretched over their laps. A businesswoman strides through the door, asking for a coffee to go. And outside, two cyclists veer off the bike path for a bagel pit stop. Just a few years ago, Tandem didn’t exist. The building sat empty, a former railroad depot that Williston had used as an art classroom. And while the restaurant has been a notable success since its launch in 2013 by two sets of Williston parents, its emergence is part of a larger phenomenon even more significant for Williston’s community: This once-down-and-out mill town is experiencing a remarkable renaissance. Hopping, thriving, buzzing—these are the adjectives being tossed around to describe the town that’s now been designated a “city.” And for Williston students, alums, and guests, that’s welcome news indeed. Walk around Easthampton on your next visit to campus, and you’ll see the changes afoot. New cafés and restaurants, like Galaxy and Coco & the Cellar Bar, are drawing crowds. The Small Oven Bakery, opened in 2014 through a crowd-funding effort, was recently honored by the Valley Advocate as the best in the Pioneer Valley. Artists, entrepreneurs, and small businesses are snapping up space in refurbished mill buildings like Eastworks and Mill 180. Three breweries use Easthampton’s water—deemed the tastiest tap water in the country—to craft their wares. In 2013, Cottage Street was designated a Cultural District, and in 2015, Easthampton Mayor Karen Cadieux cut the ribbon on a long-planned boardwalk around the city’s Nashawannuck Pond. “The word over the last two years is, we’re ‘buzzing,’” Cadieux says. “People are saying, ‘Easthampton is the place to be.’ It’s really true.” But don’t just take her word for it. See for yourself.
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Clockwise from top left: Tandem’s tasty offerings; ordering at Small Oven bakery; the kitchen at Coco & the Cellar Bar; a Coco entree; the Main Street entrance to Galaxy
WHERE TO EAT
Many of Easthampton’s new restaurants proudly use local ingredients, from microgreens to microbrews.
COFFEE TO STAY OR GO
Coco & the Cellar Bar This cozy James Beard Awardnominated restaurant has become a top culinary destination in Western Massachusetts. Dine upstairs for the elegant ambiance and kitchen view, or head downstairs to the dimly lit Cellar Bar for a bourbon near the crackling fire. The small, locavore menu rotates, but the fried chicken with jalapeño slaw—a cult favorite—is always an option. 95 Main Street, cocoandthecellarbar.com
Get your caffeine fix— and so much more—at these local coffee houses. Small Oven Everyone’s talking about Small Oven, the crowdfunded bakery run by a female baking duo that opened in 2014 and quickly swept up local and national “best of” awards. The shop is hopping at lunchtime, when you can dine on creative
Galaxy From the owners of the nowclosed Apollo Grill comes a new rendition, Galaxy, a similarly retro-themed restaurant on Main Street. The creative menu offers dishes ranging from deviled eggs and burgers to truffle french fries and braised short ribs. Sip a cocktail at the bar or dine alfresco on the new patio. 60 Main Street, galaxy413.com
sandwiches (beef brisket, Gruýere grilled cheese) or salads with preserved lemon. Not to be outshined by the food, the coffee is strong, too. 36 Union Street, smallovebakes.com Tandem Bagel Co-owned by two sets of Williston parents (including alumni
Captain Jack’s Roadside Shack This drive-in roadside shack (there’s truth in the name) serves up the Pioneer Valley’s best “lobstah” roll, as voted by the local MassLive website. Locals also adore the fish tacos and fries, which on certain days you can smell as you drive past on Route 10. Eat your fish with a side view of Mount Tom at the picnic tables. 232 Northampton Street, 413-203-5367
Shannon Shaughnessy Greenwood ’83 and Chris Zawacki ’87), Tandem is beloved by Wildcats and locals. Line up for freshbaked bagels (varieties include Parmesan, apple cinnamon, and poppy
Galaxy offers small plates, entrees, salads, and cocktails, all in a midcentury modern setting.
seed), or grab a bagel sandwich and an coffee to go. The outdoor patio along the bike path is the perfect place to people watch. 9 Railroad Street, tandembagelco.com
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OUTDOOR RECREATION TRAILS
Sometimes the best way to see a city is by walking it. Bring good shoes and get off the beaten path at these revitalized pedestrian-friendly byways.
Evenings bring song and libation to the Luthier’s Co-op, transforming the stringed instrument store into a one-of-kind venue for local music.
Nashawannuck Promenade If you’re walking on the Nashawannuck Pond Boardwalk and Promenade, you’re enjoying Easthampton’s new favorite pastime. Opened in 2015 as a gateway to the Cottage Street District, the boardwalk rounding the pond is the place to gaze up at Mount Tom, cast a line into the water, put in a kayak, or watch a street performer. Manhan Rail Trail Take a leafy walk or bike ride on the Manhan Rail Trail, which stretches for six paved miles within the city and connects to Northampton. You can jump on the trail next to campus or rent bikes from Manhan Bicycles (manhanbicycles.com) located in the Paragon Mill Building. Renovations by the Lower Mill Pond make it easy to access the back entrances of the mills, where you can stop in for a beer or a bite to eat.
ARTS & CULTURE
The sleepy town you once knew is now a hub of creativity. The many street murals are just the beginning.
the knowledgeable owner, who might turn you on to something even better. 86 Cottage Street, whitesquarebooks.com
White Square Books In the age of Amazon and big-box stores, this old-style bookshop has endured. Here you can find used books of every genre, as well as hotoff-the-press hardcover bestsellers. White Square also stocks art, prints, and fine books, making it a destination for collectors, and it hosts salon-type events with local and national authors and artists. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Just ask
Nash Gallery If Easthampton is an artists’ mecca, than the Nash Gallery is the place to peruse and purchase that art. Launched in 1995 by Mai Stoddard, who passed it to her daughter Marlies Stoddard ’91 in 2009, the gallery has helped spur on the cultural renaissance of the city, giving artists a showplace for their work. Stop in for handcrafted jewelry, pottery, clothing, and curiosities, and to glimpse
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rotating exhibits of fine art by renowned Pioneer Valley painters, photographers, and sculptors. 40 Cottage Street, nashgalleryart.com Luthier’s Co-op By day, Luthier’s Co-op sells and repairs guitars, with a large inventory of used and vintage banjos, guitars, mandolins, and ukuleles. By night, the shop turns into a bar and live-music venue, with open mic nights and bluegrass jam sessions. Sip a beer surrounded by beautiful stringed instruments. 108 Cottage Street, luthiers-coop.com
STUDENT FAVORITES Want to know what a Wildcat eats? Pizza, by the slice. And ice cream. Antonio’s Pizza At Antonio’s, the pizza is hot and fresh, and the slices are as big as your face. It’s easy to see why this by-the-slice pizzeria, started in Amherst to feed throngs of hungry college students, has had success in Easthampton, only minutes from campus. Gazing at the menu all pie-eyed? You can order a whole pizza, too. Keep it traditional with a meat lover’s or go gourmet with BBQ chicken bacon ranch. Buy four slices and get the fifth slice free. 71 Main Street, antoniospizza.com Mt. Tom’s Ice Cream
Clockwise, from top: The street murals along Cottage Street give a hint of Easthampton’s new vibrancy; the newly opened Nashawannuck Pond promenade serves as a gateway to the city; life is sweet at Mt. Tom’s Ice Cream.
Step back in time to an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and candy store, where the sheer number of candy choices will leave your head spinning. The ice cream, made on
Flywheel Arts Collective The live music is also flowing at the Flywheel Arts Collective, now housed in Easthampton’s historic Old Town Hall. This nonprofit, volunteer-run community arts space is open to all, and the eclectic events include poetry and spoken word, film screenings, and zine nights. 43 Main Street, flywheelarts.org
Art Walk Easthampton Every second Saturday of the month you can embark on a free walking tour of Easthampton’s art galleries, restaurants, shops, and small businesses. Enjoy a cube of cheese, a little wine, and a large helping of locally grown art. 43 Main Street, easthamptoncityarts. com/artwalk
MAP Gallery The MAP Gallery in Eastworks houses the Mill Arts Project, a collaboration between Easthampton City Arts+ and Eastworks. As the art exhibits change, you might catch a visual art show, a performance, an installation, or a pop-up shop—all by local, emerging artists. 43 Main Street, easthamptoncityarts.com/map
the premises, is consistently voted among the best in the area. You might even get to sample the flavor made just for Williston: Wild-cake Batter, a cake batter base with marshmallow and blue sprinkles. 34 Cottage Street, mttoms.com
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CONVERTED MILLS The manufacturing jobs may be long gone, but the mills are still standing, inspiring creative new uses for these large, industrial spaces. Mill 180, Eastworks, Paragon, and the Keystone buildings are bustling with activity. Mill 180 Park In all of Massachusetts, there’s nothing quite like the Mill 180 park—an indoor, urban park filled
Not everything in Easthampton has changed. Many of the most beloved spots are still thriving today. Nini’s Ristorante The traditional Italian eatery that stole your heart and filled your belly is still delivering comfort cuisine to old and new residents alike. Twirl your fork in a heaping plate of pasta with classic red sauce, sink your bread into a pool of olive oil, and start thinking about the dessert case. The large, curved bar is the perfect place to strike up a conversation. 124 Cottage Street, ninisristorante.com
to the brim with hydroponic plants, rolling artificial grass, games like corn hole, and a bar and eatery. Admission is always free, and much of the garden greenery in the park is used by the on-site restaurants. Yes, there’s beer and wine, too. 180 Pleasant Street, mill180park.com Zing! Table Tennis Easthampton is getting serious about its racquet sports—specifically, table tennis. Zing offers nine state-of-the-art tables in a 3,800-square-foot space in the Keystone Mill Building, along with two professional coaches to help you perfect your game. Members get special benefits but non-members are also welcome for drop-in action. 122 Pleasant Street, zingtt.com
Big E’s Your neighborhood supermarket is going strong, and you can still stock up on all of your old favorite midnight snacks. This locally owned grocery has also evolved with the times, and now offers organic produce, gluten-free products, local microbrews, and even a self-service kombucha bar. Find everything you loved back then, and everything your doctor tells you to eat now. 11 Union Street, bigessupermarket.com Brass Cat and Whiskerz Pub The Brass Cat (65 Cottage Street) remains Easthampton’s corner tavern, with pool tables, jukebox, and an impressive selection of local microbrews and imports. In the new beer garden you can watch a Red Sox game under an umbrella. A few doors down, Whiskerz Pub (75 Cottage Street) is the sweet spot for bikers touring around the Valley. Step inside for a down-toearth vibe, mixed drinks, daily food specials, and a game of pool.
50 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
Clockwise, from top: A Cottage Street mural; a growler from New City Brewery; the verdant interior of Mill 180 Park
THE BEER TRAIL
Easthampton is now home to three microbreweries, each with unique varieties and all within close proximity. Pick up a growler and get hoppy. Abandoned Building Brewery This aptly named brewery really did take over an abandoned building, once a plastic bag manufacturer in the “Brickyard” mill. Now, they’re creating microbrews made from locally malted barley and hops they grow themselves. Try a taste in their taproom, offering selections like Dirty Girl IPA or Nightshade Stout. 142 Pleasant Street, abandonnedbuildingbrewery.com Inside the taproom at New City brewery; below, right: Keeping tabs on the brewing process.; below: Old favorites Whiskerz Pub and the Brass Cat.
New City Brewery The brewmaster at this small-batch brewery has a passion: alcoholic, Jamaican-style ginger beer. Enjoy the spicy, effervescent bite of the drink or try the six other rotating beers on tap. The refinished taproom in Mill 180, just steps off the bike path, boasts a reclaimed bar from Fenway Park. The outdoor beer garden makes spring and summer nights even more pleasant. 180 Pleasant Street, newcitybrewery.com Fort Hill Brewery It was Easthampton’s prize-winning water that enticed the brewmaster at Fort Hill to plant his brewery in a former hay field peering up at Mount Tom. Come to this light-filled, expansive taproom for lagers and ales brewed in the German tradition. The flagship beer, Märzen/Fest Bier, is a rich amber lager. Access is easy from the Manhan Rail Trail, and there’s live music many evenings. 30 Fort Hill Road, forthillbrewery.com
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