HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! 175TH ANNIVERSARY
OUR THIRD 175TH SPECIAL EDITION CAPS OFF WITH A LOOK AT THE LAST 35 YEARS OF WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON
[BEHIND THE TRADITION] THE GIRLS CROSS-COUNTRY CHEER For the last 25 years, every girls cross-country race has kicked off with a rousing team recitation of a most unusual chant. Composed one day after practice by the 1991 team in what Coach Greg Tuleja describes as “a sudden explosion of creativity,” the cheer accompanied the Wildcats through an undefeated championship season. So it lives on, passed from team to team. And when the 1991 Wildcats were inducted this year into the Hall of Fame (see page 14), its performance united runners past and present. “Singing the cheer for the induction was very special,” says Maddy Scott ’16, a 2015–16 captain. “It made the tradition feel timeless.”
Give me a yell, a yell, a good substantial yell! And when we yell we yell like hell and this is what we yell. Amen, amen, Amandiego, San Diego Hocus pocus, try to choke us Baby in a high chair, who put her up there? Ma, Pa, sister of Ba, girls, girls, ra ra ra—Go, Williston!”
CONTENTS | VOLUME 102, NUMBER 2
FEATURE 16 | THE PEOPLE, THE PLACES, AND THEIR THINGS In the final installment of our 175th anniversary retrospective, we talk to 15 alumni of the Williston Northampton School whose student days shaped the people they would become. Plus: 21 | CAMPUS LANDMARKS, 23 | SPORTY SPACES, 24, 38, 41, 44 | FACULTY, 27, 35, 37 | FROM THE ARCHIVES, 29, 31 | EVOLVING CAMPUS
CAMPUS NEWS 3 | INBOX Your emails and letters. Plus: Founders Day giving exceeds expectations (by a lot)! 6 | SNAPSHOTS Springtime celebrations—and ordinary moments— caught on camera shed light on campus life. 10 | THE WILLILIST We break it down by the numbers: bananas, burgers, Twitter followers. Every digit tells a story. 12 | ALUMNI AWARDS This year’s recipients include a venture capitalist, a curator of digital humor, and two beloved longtime faculty members.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
14 | ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME AWARDS The school’s latest inductees embody Wildcat spirit.
CLASS NOTES 46 | REUNION 2016/CLASS NOTES Photos from a momentous weekend, plus the latest news from our alums. 70 | IN MEMORY Remembering those we have lost.
How did Williston set Nonie Creme ’90 on the path to becoming a beauty mogul (and 2016 Commencement keynote speaker)? Let her explain.
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
The new Chairman of the Board of Trustees, John Hazen White Jr. ’76 (right), at reunion in May
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 Alumni 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
John Hazen White Jr. loves to tell the story of how he arrived at Williston as a teenager in the 1970s. His father’s best friend, John Reed (for whom our Reed Campus Center is named), had recommended the school, and after a memorable first visit, John decided to travel by bus on his own from the Rectory School to plead his case. “I walked into the admission office and I said to Tom Evans, the admissions guy, ‘My test scores won’t get me admitted here, but I gotta come here. You let me in here, and I will make a difference to this school forever.’” With his election as the new Chairman of the Board of Trustees, John continues to deliver on his promise. And his appointment is particularly fitting at this juncture in the school’s history. The first Board Chair to be a Williston Northampton School graduate, John was a student shortly after coeducation became a reality, and he has been an extraordinarily active and engaged alumnus. For those who have not met John personally or at one of our alumni events, his story (told in this issue on page 20) reveals qualities of imaginative leadership precisely aligning with the school’s needs at this pivotal moment. John’s passion for the school he attended in the past is eclipsed only by his devotion to the school we will become in the future. His love of Williston, like his laugh, is infectious, and I am certain that under his leadership and service, Williston’s alumni will be well served. Already, all of us at Williston are feeling John’s contagious energy, optimism, and excitement as our historic 175th year recedes in the rearview mirror and we look forward to writing the school’s next chapter together. Williston just completed its decennial evaluation self-study and awaits a campus review in October by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. That working team will spend three days as our guests, and their report will undoubtedly yield valuable new insights, even as it confirms the positive findings of our own self-evaluation. In short, it’s an exciting, formative time here at Williston, a time that I know will —to steal John White’s words from 40-something years ago—make a difference to this school forever. I am grateful to be a part of it.
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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front. It brought back so many fond memories. It was a beautiful edition, especially pages 23, 28, and 33 (best of all). Those early morning trips in the truck to cut asparagus will never be forgotten! I really enjoyed the articles and pictures of some of our fine teachers. A great school. Many thanks. —Barbara Moog Finlay ’45
PORTRAIT BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
THIS JUST IN... Only now getting to the Fall 2015 Bulletin, but I am overjoyed with it! The various stories by faculty and especially students from recent through long-ago pasts were powerful reminders of “fun and frolic” as well as serious student application. Physical changes to the campus as it grew were of particular interest to those of us who experienced the years of growth, although my generation was not part of the move from the “old” campus to the current one. Pleasantly surprised to see the full-page tribute to a great classmate, feisty but warm Gordon “Gordy” Cadwgan ’63. I was also happy to see that Roger Walaszek ’65 was given full attention. Heck, he and I had our “Tom Sawyer” summer painting half of the great class fence that stretches along that main road. This last edition was the best in my 50 years’ overview of them! I look forward to continued excellence, including the final installment. Long live memories, pranks, and what they meant: morale and life lessons. —Tom Roberson ’63 Thank you for the wonderful edition of the Bulletin featuring NSFG with the beloved green blazer on the
Joe and I were so pleased to see the wonderful recent edition of the Bulletin featuring NSFG with my photo and words in the opening pages! Your talented team is to be congratulated for producing such a lovely, long-awaited account of a girls’ school that was so special to so many of us. Joe and I are so proud to be part of the co-ed school that Williston Northampton is today. Keep up the good work and best wishes. —Priscilla Ruder Lucier ’50 and Joe Lucier ’50 Received the newest Bulletin today! Oh, what fun to see the NSFG blazer on the cover. Loved reading all the great personal pieces on various graduates of NSFG. Especially enjoyed the one on Jacqueline Mosher. But I’m wondering if anyone else noticed the photos of Viola Hussey and supposed pic of Grace Carlson—that pic is actually another, older photo of Viola Hussey. Rick Teller, just wanted to point this out—if you go back to our NSFG 1971 yearbook there is a full-page photo of Grace Carlson thanking her for her guidance to our senior class, which I think is quite funny, as she didn’t help me at all with my college choice. All that aside, I just loved reading the Bulletin cover to cover and love all the old photos of our beautiful campus in Northampton. I hope to
be well enough in May to make it to our 45th reunion! —Linda LaShier Underhill ’71
I just perused the Williston Northampton School Bulletin. On page 27, the picture of Grace Carlson is not Grace Carlson. It is an older picture of Viola Hussey. Shame, shame. —Marcia Booth Drinkard ’70 Indeed, the photo that accompanied the text about NSFG Notable Grace Carlson (The Bulletin, Spring 2016) was of Viola Hussey. This is the real Grace Carlson. Thanks to the many astute readers who pointed out the error.
Editor’s Note: Please note that letters may be edited for length or clarity. To submit one, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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FOUNDERS DAY CHALLENGE The goal for Founders Day was simple: raise $25,000 in one day from 175 of you, and earn a $25,000 matching gift from an anonymous donor. Held on February 22, the challenge kicked off at dawn. Soon the gifts were pouring in, along with photos of proud Wildcats with signs: “Go Williston! #Williston175.” By day’s end, the Williston Northampton Fund had received $147,000—more than five times the goal! More important, some 528 of you had rallied on behalf of the school. The Founders would be proud! Thank you.
FALL 2016 BULLETIN 3
We asked alumni to reflect on their favorite places around campus: “Second floor Sawyer House, looking out the window of the smallest room on campus.” “The bench by the Pond behind Ford Hall, where I gathered with friends regularly to reflect.” “The student center—no matter when I went in, I knew a friend would be there, because everyone on campus was a friend!” “Village Pizza, playing Pac-Man!”
Known for his affably dry sense of humor and unwavering commitment to student-athletes, Jay Grant concluded his 38th and final year on campus this past spring (read more about Jay and Betsy Grant on page 13). In addition to his roles as a dorm parent, championship-winning hockey coach, PE teacher, and keeper of athletic records, Jay is famous for his on-point life advice. At the end-of-year dinner for faculty and staff, Jay’s coathletic trainer Melissa Brousseau gave a speech she called “All I Really Need to Know I Learned from Jay Grant.” Here are a few pearls from that list:
There are times
to swear in the office,
like when you whack your knee on your desk or lose something on the computer.
“Almost all of my favorite memories took place backstage in the theater. Some pretty wacky stuff happens back there.”
Drive the golf cart as fast as you can.
“The ceramic studio. I spent a great amount of time there listening to the Dead and throwing pots.”
Go on family
“Madame Michalski’s French room!” “The hockey rink. When I looked at the campus, as soon as I saw the rink I said, ‘This is where I want to go.’” “Galbraith Fields. I felt at peace in the fields with the mountain in the background and all the students and coaches out there together.”
FIND YOUR CLASSMATES AT WWW.WILLISTON.COM/ALUMNI.
4 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
And remember, family comes first.
Cheese, crackers, and Gatorade make a good lunch on a game day (if you are able to eat lunch).
You’re never so
important that you can’t help others—for example, by taking out the trash or doing laundry in the cage.
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WANT MORE WILLISTON?
WE PUT THE FUN IN FUND WEEK It took freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors working together to reach their goal—and win big!
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
Winning isn’t everything, but at Williston, hey, we like to win (go, Wildcats!). So when the four Upper School classes raced to raise the most money from the most people for the Williston Northampton Fund, the competition got pretty fierce. Luckily, uniting freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors was the possibility of a Head’s Holiday—if 80 percent of students gave at least $1. Volunteer ambassadors from each class, clad in Tshirts emblazoned with the motto “We Put the Fun in Fund Week,” organized their classmates. In Birch Dining Commons, they popped buttons into jars—one button for each gift—for a visual repre-
sentation of where each class stood in the running. The senior class won, and the whole school raised just shy of $2,000, with an incredible 93 percent participation rate. In a deadpan congratulatory video message sent from Japan and shown at Assembly, Head of School Robert W. Hill III delivered the news: the Upper School had earned its first Head’s Holiday in 15 years! And it turned out that Fund Week was about more than winning. “By emphasizing participation over dollars donated,” said Nate Gordon ’16, senior class ambassador, “Fund Week was an introduction for students to get in the habit of giving to, and recognizing, people and institutions who have given so much to us.”
Here are eight great ways to connect with old friends and find out what’s new on campus. For all links, go to www.williston.com/alumni. 1. PERUSE PAGES
Flip through your yearbook online (and yes, you really did have that haircut). 2. FOLLOW US
Get all the latest news and photos by following Williston’s social media. 3. USE THE APP
Network with alumni everywhere with our alumni app, EverTrue. 4. GET OUT AND ABOUT
Raise a glass at an upcoming event on campus or at a location near you. 5. SHOW YOUR SWAG
Wear your Wildcat pride on your sleeve (or hat or tote bag) by ordering some Williston gear. 6. READ ALL ABOUT IT
[ POSTS WITH THE MOST ]
GABBY’S GOT SPEED
What was our No. 1 post this summer? Gabby Thomas ’15 blazing a trail at the Track and Field Olympic Trials, news viewed by 10,000 (read more about Gabby on page 45).
Find out what other alumni are up to on our Alumni Profiles blog or Bulletin magazine online. 7. SUBMIT YOUR NEWS
Tell us what you’ve been doing so we can pass it along in our class notes. 8. BECOME A PARTNER
Help out a current student, teacher, or your favorite team by donating to the Williston Northampton Fund. FALL 2016 BULLETIN 5
SNAPSHOTS Campus comes alive in spring and summer! Take a look at some of the goings-on.
MAY 23 Ben Chmielewski ’16 (above) won first place
in the My Life Photo Contest with this gravitydefying image MAY 29 Commencement (left) launched the 133
members of the Class of 2016
Browse more images of campus life at www.flickr.com/photos/willistonnorthampton
MAY 16 Williston Scholar arts students presented
their final projects in the Grubbs Gallery MAY 22 Varsity softball (left) took the Western
6 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
New England Class A Prep School Softball Championship—a Wildcat softball first— with a 5-1 win over Westminster School
MAY 25 Students blew off a
little end-of-trimester steam at Willy Gras, the celebration of all things Williston
A dramatic sunset and the view from the Holyoke Range offered the perfect backdrop to the glamour and glitz of prom
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY AND BEN MATTHEW CHMIELEWSKI CAVANAUGH â€™16 (BIKE)
FALL 2016 BULLETIN 7
MAY 20 Student dancers take the
Williston Theatre stage for a high-energy performance of â€œMusic Made Visibleâ€?
JUNE 3 Three-legged
Middle Schoolers sprint to the finish on Field Day
APRIL 29 Photo portraits
capture the moment on Grandparentsâ€™ Day
MAY 14 Girls varsity water polo faced off
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY AND MATTHEW CAVANAUGH (MIDDLE SCHOOL)
against Loomis Chafee on Reunion Weekend
Browse more images of campus life at www.flickr.com/photos/willistonnorthampton
FALL 2016 BULLETIN 9
A by-the-numbers look at recent school highlights
Final place in the standings earned by Williston’s We the People team in this year’s state competition, earning the group a slot at the national finals at the University of Maryland.
Wildcat juniors and seniors who took part in “Athletes Love to Read,” a literacy event held at Easthampton’s public schools.
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Pounds of Williston athletic apparel and footwear donated to the Tumiani Junior School in northwest Tanzania. Christopher Zawacki ’87 and his wife, Andrea, worked with Jason Tirell ’90 in Athletics to collect, sort, and pack it all.
Ashley Gearing ’09 first appeared on the country music charts, making her the youngest solo artist to do so. Ashley gave an inspired performance this spring in the chapel for Grandparents’ Day.
People who saw the school’s spring musical, In the Heights, featuring music and lyrics by Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Age that musician
AP exams taken by 203 Williston students last year.
Williston teams that qualified for NEPSAC tournaments last fall and winter. Three (boys basketball, girls field hockey, and girls swimming) were NEPSAC champions. Individual Wildcats also brought home NEPSAC titles in swimming and diving.
2.7K People who viewed Reunion photos on Flickr. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of images curated there. Check ’em out!
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
Awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education earned by Williston’s Communications Office in the last three years.
Twitter followers of Josh Schwerin ’04 (@JoshSchwerin), national spokesman for Hillary Clinton for America.
Final score of last spring’s Western New England Class A Prep School Softball Championship, where Williston defeated the top seed and defending champion, Westminster.
Burgers consumed at Birch Dining Commons on burger day.
Photos on Williston Flickr. See for yourself! www.flickr.com/photos/ willistonnorthampton/ albums
Seconds it took Williston’s Michael Dereus ’16 to set a New England Prep School Track Association Division II record in the 100-meter dash.
Donors (330 of whom were alumni) who gave on Founders Day, Feburary 22, Williston’s day of giving.
Pounds of bananas eaten each month in the Birch Dining Commons. Time, in seconds, of Gabby Thomas ’15 in the 200-meter final at the Olympic trials. She came in sixth. Pounds of mesclun salad mix eaten in a school year. FALL 2016 BULLETIN 11
AWARDS Humanitarians. Trailblazers. Volunteers. When alumni do great things, Williston wants the world to know. Hence, the Alumni Awards. During ceremonies held at Reunion, we recognized alumni service to the world, to the broader community, and to Williston. Recipients include a venture capitalist whose philanthropy supports organizations that help lift people out of poverty through microlending, a curator of digital humor, and two beloved longtime faculty members who devoted their careers to serving the students of Williston.
“I give to Williston because it is an agent of change that is indeed making the world a better place.” —Ed Michael Reggie
Read Ed Michael Reggie’s acceptance speech at willistonblogs.com/speeches
ED MICHAEL REGGIE ’71
onsidering the school kicked him out two months before graduation, there’s still a lot of love between Williston Northampton and Ed Michael Reggie ’71. This spring, Williston awarded Reggie its highest honor: the Robert A. Ward Medal, recognizing humanitarian service and volunteerism, and those who have made outstanding contributions to their communities. To graduate, Reggie had to complete an independent study project back home in Louisiana, and his focus—the history of banking—changed the trajectory of his life. He began his career in that field, founded and sold a health care company, and then became a venture
capitalist. He’s now the managing director for Future Factory, an earlystage investor in new companies. Today, the same spirit of activism that put Reggie in hot water as a political and anti-war agitator at Williston in the ’70s informs his philanthropic fight against hunger and poverty worldwide. In bold Reggie style, he wants people to rethink how they give money. He’s a trustee for Freedom from Hunger, a microlending initiative in developing nations like Haiti and Ghana, and he’s asking for better accountability from charities and stronger outcomes from donations. “I give to Williston because it is an agent of change that is indeed making the world a better place.”
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
MICKEY MEYER ’03
JOHN BOOTH ’83
TIM MURPHY ’96
JAY AND BETSY GRANT
Michael “Mickey” Meyer ’03 is all about funny. He co-created JASH, a comedy community with roots in both the digital and television worlds, featuring comedians Sarah Silverman and Norm Macdonald. But he’s got a serious side. He co-founded Can’t Do Nothing, an organization that inspires visitors to use their voice, time, or money to solve a pressing societal problem, such as the refugee crisis. He’s met with President Obama as part of the White House’s Entertainment Advisory Group and is on several lists of young executives to watch (Forbes magazine, The Hollywood Reporter). Meyer received the Alumni Trailblazer Award, given to an under-40 alum demonstrating professional achievement and contributions to his or her profession.
The Founders Award recognizes loyalty, devotion, and service to Williston. John Booth ’83 has these in spades, as a trustee and booster of the school. In addition to his tenure on the board, he’s worked to raise Williston’s profile in Greenwich, Connecticut—where he lives and serves as academic dean at the Brunswick School—by arranging sports competitions between the Wildcats and the Brunswick Bruins. As a student, he served on the student/faculty discipline committee; he also played varsity soccer, ice hockey (where he was a two-time captain), lacrosse, and golf. He fondly recalls racing to ring the Victory Bell. Booth has never missed a Reunion; in fact, he flew to campus from Japan for his first Reunion, five years after graduation.
Tim Murphy ’96 has given faithfully to the Annual Fund every year since he graduated. He has also shared his time, chairing several Reunion committees and attending events in the Boston area. Murphy received the Daniel and Jane Carpenter Award, given to a volunteer who supports the school through effort and energy, as well as financially. As a student, Murphy was a leading man in the theater department (he played the murderous barber Sweeney Todd his senior year), a Caterwauler, and a four-year member of the cross-country team. After college, Murphy returned to Williston to work in the Admission Office before moving to The Fessenden School in West Newton, Massachusetts, where he is the director of secondary school counseling.
Betsy and Jay wed in the chapel in 1981, and they raised two children, Sam Grant ’08 and Jill Grant ’11, on campus. At Williston, Jay was the school’s first full-time athletic trainer. He coached the boys ice hockey team for four years, including the 1985–86 New England Championship team. He witnessed the construction of the Athletic Center in 1990, faithfully kept the athletic records, and wrapped thousands upon thousands of ankles. Betsy coached sailing, advised the yearbook, and taught Spanish. Jay and Betsy Grant made an impact on the life of the school and its students in the 38 and 37 years, respectively, that they worked here. They received the Distinguished Service Award, the preeminent service award. FALL 2016 BULLETIN 13
ATHLETIC HALL OF FAME
AWARDS They pursued sport at Brown, Princeton, and Yale, earned All-American honors, and crushed marathons and Ironman competitions. This year’s inductees to the Athletic Hall of Fame are a cross-section of athletic life at Williston, including a winning coach, a player so defined by his game he was known as “Mr. Hockey,” and a team with heart—and speed.
DALE LASH Dale Lash served as athletic director from 1942 to 1967 and oversaw the steady growth of athletic programs at Williston. He loved coaching and mentoring players. He encouraged the development of their skills on the court and playing field; sportsmanship was his watchword. His support of veterans was personal and professional. He had drilled Army cadets in physical fitness at his alma mater, Springfield College. Then, as veterans of World War II returned home, many found they needed a year of preparation before going to college. They were
older than the typical prep school student, so many lived off campus when they enrolled at Williston. Lash and his wife, Helen, had their sons Robert and Richard give up their bedrooms so these veteran students could live in their home. Lash coached basketball, football, and baseball from 1942 to 1956. He coached the undefeated basketball team of 1945 with outstanding player and 2015 Hall of Fame inductee Tony Lavelli. He also led the undefeated football team of 1947. Lash’s daughter, Marilyn Lash Cluett ’65, accepted his award.
LAURA HURD ’01 After graduation, Laura Hurd ’01 attended Elmira College, which was just starting a women’s ice hockey program. Over the course of the next four years, she rewrote the record books for Division III women’s ice hockey in leading Elmira to two national Division III titles. A four-time First Team All-American forward, Hurd still holds the NCAA Division III record for career scoring with 237 points (120 goals, 117 assists), leading the nation in scoring her senior year and being named ECAC Player of the Year. She also holds NCAA Division III records for points in a season (77), points per game in a season (2.75), points per game in a career (2.15),
goals in a season (40), goals in a career (120), assists in a career (117), and assists per game (1.06). “She had such a gift around the net,” said former Elmira coach Jamie Wood. “She knew exactly where to be and when to be there. It was uncanny.” Hurd, who died in a car accident in 2006 at age 24, was posthumously inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame. In her two years at Williston, she was a Wildcat starter in soccer, ice hockey, and track. She was known for her tenacious determination, competitive spirit, and unfailing love of life. Her mother, Jennifer, accepted the award on Laura’s behalf.
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WESTCOTT E. S. MOULTON ’27 Westcott E.S. Moulton ’27 was one of Williston Academy’s first true ice hockey superstars. As his career progressed, it was said he played so effortlessly, the hockey stick appeared to be attached to his hand. During the two years he was at Williston, he played varsity football, ice hockey, and baseball. He was named captain in his senior year in both football and ice hockey, while earning All-New England honors in baseball. In a total of 11 ice hockey games over two seasons, Moulton scored 48 goals while the rest of
the team scored 29. He scored an amazing 15 of the team’s 18 goals in his senior year. He was named to Williston’s First Half Century Team (1900–1950). Known as “Mr. Hockey,” Moulton became Brown University’s first ice hockey All-American in 1931. During his time as Brown’s coach, the team took Ivy League titles in 1950 and 1951. In 1961, he returned to Williston to work in the Advancement and Alumni Offices.
STEPHEN DURANT ’64
PORTRAITS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
tephen Durant ’64 has been called one of the greatest athletes ever to compete for Williston. As a three-year member of the varsity football team, he was a two-time Boston Herald AllNew England Prep School Team selection. The fact that he was named to the team at two different positions—quarterback and fullback—made the feat even more impressive. In 1964, with the football team on its way to a New England championship, Durant gained 305 yards while averaging 5.5 yards per carry and, more impressively, never lost yardage. In 1964, he was named the Stimets Trophy winner as well as the Frank Boyden Award winner, given to the top Western Massachusetts prep school scholar-
football player. In 1963 he was the recipient of the Connecticut Valley Scholar Athlete award. Durant also played basketball for two years, but it was lacrosse where he found a true passion. A Second Team All-New England selection in 1963, he was named co-captain his senior year as he led the team in scoring and earned First Team All-New England honors. “At Williston I loved the routine of sports every day,” he said. “In football, we went from winning one game my junior year to being undefeated in our senior year. As I remember, in our senior year between football, basketball, and lacrosse, we only lost two games, both in basketball.” Durant was also a National Merit Scholarship Finalist, consistently earning a place on the Academic Honor Roll, while also sitting on Student Council. Following graduation, he attended Princeton University, where he played lacrosse for four years, including 1966, when the Tigers were Ivy League champs. In 1968 he was an Honorable Mention AllAmerican selection. After Princeton, Durant attended Yale Law School, earning a degree in 1974. Durant continued to play lacrosse for the Jacksonville Lacrosse Club, winning the 1980 Florida State Championship, until his retirement from the game. Durant continues to practice law in Jacksonville, where he lives with his wife, Tess, a 1964 graduate of Northampton School for Girls. They both were on campus at Reunion this year.
1991 GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY TEAM In 1991, for only the second time in school history, the Williston girls cross-country team took first place in the Division II New England Championships, capping an undefeated season. Out of 70 runners at the championships, five Wildcats finished in the top 20, led by Seana Zelazo Carmean ’94 (third place) and Suzanne Zelazo ’94 (ninth). Priscilla Fusco Kanzer ’92 finished 12th, Tara Sheehan ’95 finished 18th, and co-captain Natalie Munk ’93 crossed the line in 19th place. Other members of the team included Catherine Saint Louis ’92, cocaptain Mecina Bottaro ’93, Lissy Neumann ’92, Megan Ross ’94, Jodi Ryder ’95, and Amanda Patterson ’93. (The team’s unusual pre-race chant can still be heard today. See the story on the inside front cover.) “This is the best team I’ve ever coached,” coach Greg Tuleja said at the time. “The girls are also some of the nicest young people I have met at Williston.” After college, Seana Zelazo Carmean continued to race, winning the 2003 Philadelphia Marathon, placing fourth as the first American at the 2006 Hartford Marathon, and qualifying for the 2004 and 2008 Women’s Olympic Marathon Trials. Twin sister Suzanne Zelazo competed as a professional triathlete from 2009 to 2014, placing sixth at the 2011 Lake Placid Ironman, and raced as a Category 2 elite cyclist. Tara Sheehan died in February 2002. In her memory, and to benefit eating disorder programs, the family organized the annual “Run/Walk for Tara” on the Williston Northampton cross-country course. The Tara Sheehan Fund gives a grant each year to support eating disorder programs. FALL 2016 BULLETIN 15
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
Equipment Manager Jason Tirrell ’90 remembers adding a varsity letter for lacrosse to his jacket in 1989. “It was a great team,” he says.
16 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
THE PEOPLE, THE PLACES, AND THEIR THINGS Remembering the Williston Northampton School Years
AS PART OF OUR ONGOING 175TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION, the last two
An early pennant from just after the merger of Williston Academy and Northampton School for Girls
issues of the Bulletin have looked back at Williston Academy and Northampton School for Girls, the two storied institutions that in 1971 came together to form the school we know and love today. In this third and final installment of our commemorative series, we turn our attention to the people, places, and things of the post-merger years. Through interviews with alumni, profiles of key campus leaders, and a portfolio of period memorabilia (did everyone in 1983 really dress like extras in a John Hughes movie?), there emerges a portrait of a community whose steady evolution continues to be informed by bedrock founding principles. Were Emily and Samuel Williston to return today, they might not completely recognize our modern campus. But they would surely appreciate the sense of direction that infuses it. With many milestones behind us— a fully coed school, a greatly expanded campus, a robust and forward-looking curriculum—we stand poised to embrace the next 175 years with purpose, passion, and integrity.
ALUMNI PROFILES BY MEGAN TADY#|#INTRODUCTION AND SIDEBARS BY KEVIN MARKEY P’20, ’22#|#ARCHIVAL INFORMATION FROM RICK TELLER ’70
Chuck Tauck ’72
The freedom of Williston taught this vintner and former trustee lasting lessons in self-reliance
What spot did you love most on campus?
A place that was magical to this young teenager was the Manhan River. Times were very different then. The rules were less imposing. I hate to use the word freer, but I guess that’s the best way to describe it. We would find ourselves down in that meandering valley with cow pastures and nature. My favorite memory of Williston is just walking around campus under a quiet snowfall. It’s not a specific memory. It’s just a feeling. It comes up in a James
Taylor tune: “The Berkshires seem dreamlike on account of that frosting.” I know those same snowfalls happen today. As a young person, there was something really magical about that; it stuck with me for a long time, and still does. What sort of impact did Williston have on you?
It had an impact on my sense of self-reliance. One of my favorite lines from a movie is in The Last Crusade, when Harrison Ford looks at Sean Connery and says, “Dad, you were never there.” And Sean Connery says, “Well, I taught you self-reliance.” Williston, for me, was very much like that. There were many elements of structure, but we were expected and encouraged to navigate on our own. If you went too far over the line, you got tossed. But you could experiment. You could explore.
18 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
PORTRAIT BY CALYPSO RAE PHOTOGRAPHY
Chuck Tauck’s parents almost sent him to military school, but they opted for Williston instead—a decision that would have a lifelong impact on Tauck and the school. He joined the Board of Trustees in 1997 and served as President of the Board from 2001 to 2008. While he still recalls the banks of the Manhan River, he’s settled in the Finger Lakes region of New York, where he and his wife own and operate Sheldrake Point Winery.
Times were very different then. The rules were less imposing. I hate to use the word freer, but I guess that’s the best way to describe it.”
How did you decorate your dorm room?
It was ’68 to ’72, so I think that every dorm had a poster of Raquel Welch in some sort of Neolithic outfit. A lot of guys would have little beads hanging in the doorways. There were tapestries. We were all budding flower children. What was happening in the world around you?
A lot was happening, but were we that aware? There was just one television, in the snack bar. News about what was going on the world primarily came over the radio, WHYN. We were high school kids. It was Vietnam. It was the ’60s social revolution. It was long hair and the Jefferson Airplane. I came in as a ninth grader, and it was jackets and ties every day, mandatory chapel every day, and Sunday service in a suit. By the time I left, it was blue jeans and tie-dye. Nonconformity was kind of in. Music was everywhere. For
the students, it was a fun time to be alive. For the administration trying to make heads or tails of it, including Phil Stevens, it must have thrown them for a loop. The school changed a lot in a very short time. To us, it was just life. I had no perspective on the speed of the change. The Beatles came along and broke up by the time we left Williston, practically. It was an adventuresome time. How did you feel about the merger with Northampton School for Girls?
Hey, of course we thought it was great. As students at the time, we didn’t appreciate the challenges that schools were encountering. Now I understand what the school was going through, and the wrenching changes, financially and socially, that were impacting boarding schools. I look back and realize that I’m glad Williston survived. I know NSFG women look back and respond differently. For so many of them, NSFG didn’t survive. The administration was so focused on making the merger work that I don’t think they were spending a lot of focus on what the kids were up to. But we had a blast that year, maybe in ways that the school wouldn’t be so proud of today. FALL 2016 BULLETIN 19
John Hazen White Jr. ’76 The school’s new Chair of the Board of Trustees continues his work of giving back
John White had already decided on a secondary school, but a chance meeting with Williston changed the trajectory of his life. He went on to earn a B.A. in English from the College of Wooster, then joined his father at their third-generation, family-run heating and cooling equipment business, now the international manufacturer The Taco Group. In 1992, he opened the Taco Learning Center, where employees and their families had the opportunity to enroll in a variety of classes. In 2013, White received the Ward Medal, one of Williston’s most prestigious alumni awards. And in May 2016, he was elected Chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees. He lives in Providence, R.I., with his wife, and he has two grown sons.
PORTRAIT BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
What brought you to Williston?
My dad’s best friend, John Reed, of the Reed Center, asked my parents to bring me here. I fought that tooth and nail because I already wanted to go to another school. Then the classic thing happened: we pulled up in front of the Homestead, my feet hit the ground, and I said, “Whoa, this is it.” I had to talk myself in here because I had poor test scores. So I walked into the admission office and said to Tom Evans, “My test scores won’t get me admitted, but I have to come here. You let me in, and I will make a difference to this school forever.” And I’m still living up to my end of that deal. How did your experience at Williston impact your career?
Everything you’re looking at with me is because of this place, mainly because Williston gave me a chance to be myself. I didn’t come here and have to wear a coat and tie and act
prim and proper. You came to Williston back then, and you defined yourself and learned to think independently. And some made it, and some didn’t. At one point in my senior year, my father thought it would be better if I went to the Kent School, but I tapped into that skill of thinking for myself and said I knew I had to stay. That was perhaps the most profound decision in my life. It would have changed everything had I gone somewhere else. How did you spend your weekends?
As Board Chairman, where do you see Williston headed?
Everything you’re looking at with me is because of this place, mainly because Williston gave me a chance to be myself.”
We used to have big parties down at the Manhan— and to fund them, we had to get creative. We used a dorm kitchen to boil up hundreds of hot dogs, then we’d go around campus like a ballpark vendor and sell hot dogs for 25 cents until we had enough money for the party.
Williston is in a great position right now. It has so much history, so much talent, so much momentum, but it also has something truly unique and valuable: the ability to help students be themselves and think for themselves. That’s always been an incredible skill, but it’s even more important to students in the complex world today. As Chair, I am committed to making sure this school goes on forever doing for others what it did for me. What is exciting to you about your life right now?
I love life. Every moment of it. At 57 years old, I’ve learned that every day is a blessing. If you can enjoy life and treat others well too, that’s what it’s all about.
Shakespeare’s Sir John, located just outside Williston Theatre, was given by Kurt Shafer ’69 in 1995. Titled “The Actor” by sculptor Dee Clements, it bears the famous lines from As You Like It that begin: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
One of 30 locally themed bear statues created for an Easthampton art project, Button Bear is named to honor the Williston’s original button factory. Purchased at auction by a faculty member and donated to the school, it has greeted visitors to the Dining Commons since 2009.
First installed on the Quad near Mem in 2012, Adirondack chairs have proliferated around campus over the years through senior-class and alumni gifts. The perfect place to hang out with friends or watch a game of Spikeball, the ’Dacks, as some call them, are the best seat in the house. FALL 2016 BULLETIN 21
Saeed Amidi ’77 This international businessman works to help tech entrepreneurs achieve their dreams Start-up investor Saeed Amidi says that attending Williston, with its budding international community, allowed him to start thinking globally. After achieving success in the international bottled water and real estate industries, Saeed became a passionate technology investor. Along with his brother, in 1999 he founded the seed company Amidzad, which invested in emerging companies like PayPal and DropBox. In 2006, Saeed created Plug and Play, dubbed the “ultimate startup ecosystem,” which invests in more than 100 ground-breaking companies each year and has raised more than $1 billion in venture capital. As an international student from Iran, what surprised you culturally about Williston?
What I remember the most was you had to wear a tie and you had to have dinner with the teachers. Each month we had a teacher host a dinner with us. There was always a very interesting dinner conversation. It was trying to make you feel at home. It was like a family feeling for me. I had a fantastic time at Williston. It was one of the most fun times of my life. The only thing I would do differently is study more. I could have been a great student, but I’d much rather go outside and play Frisbee than study.
How did your Williston experience impact your career path?
Why are you passionate about helping tech entrepreneurs succeed?
Even though the international student body was not very large, I remember that somehow I felt a closer affinity with the other international students. My main business is international business. I took a bottled water delivery business from the United States to ten countries around the world. I was really comfortable doing this. The international communities at Williston and at college made me think globally. I’m very comfortable doing business in California, but I’m just as comfortable doing business in Spain and Mexico, and so on.
We help them build their dreams. What I enjoy the most these days is to be part of the journey of the entrepreneurs. I believe it keeps me young, and I get to make a positive impact on their journey. These are companies that started with an idea, and then they have grown to be so big. I feel privileged to be part of their journey.
How did you spend your free time?
We used to bicycle to Northampton. There were a few rivers near campus, and we used to go swimming. I loved the seasons. Coming from Iran, the winter was very special to me. I used to take a shower before breakfast and walk across campus, and my hair used to freeze. I just loved that. I loved the seasons. I still remember the view out of the dorm window quite well.
What advice do you have for students at Williston?
I had the capability of ending up at one of the leading academic institutions, but I didn’t dedicate myself. If I were going to live over again, I would study a little harder and try to go to one of the best schools, because it does make a difference. If you’re among the smartest and most selective student body, the biggest asset is the community you belong to. You have a leg up over everyone else, specifically in the start-up and technology world. Education is very important. If anybody has the smarts to get into top-notch schools, they should really do it.
I’m very comfortable doing business in California, but I’m just as comfortable doing business in Spain and Mexico.”
SPORTY SPACES Before Wildcats roamed free at Berube Stadium, Samuel Williston’s sheep grazed on the site. Williston’s impressive athletic facilities have their own unique stories, the common link being the steady expansion they have undergone during the post-merger era. Some examples:
The Athletic Center Since moving across the pond to new digs in 1990, Williston’s teams have flourished. Facilities at the AC include two basketball courts, four international squash courts, Babcock Pool, a wrestling room, and the Davis Fitness Center.
Berube Stadium at Sawyer Field
PORTRAIT BY EDWARD CALDWELL
Samuel Williston’s sheep pasture was turned into a playing field by Headmaster Joseph Sawyer in the late 19th century. In 2005, the surface was converted to synthetic turf, and lights and permanent seating were added.
Galbraith Fields Post-merger additions include 12 all-weather tennis courts, a synthetic turf field encircled by an eight-lane latex-cushioned track, and new baseball and softball diamonds. The latest: a cross-country course through school-owned woods.
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FACULTY How to choose? Though we could not include all the amazing retired faculty since the merger, here’s a short list of notables.
Whitney Foard Small ’79 A new venture developing interactive e-books began with a pastry cookbook written by hand Lorraine Teller
Williston’s first modern-era female faculty member, Teller is one of only two people to teach at Northampton School for Girls, Williston Academy, and Williston Northampton. Her passion for Latin was exceeded only by her dedication to students.
Known for caustic wit in the classroom and broad interests outside of it, Shaler founded the varsity cross-country team and coached it for three decades. He also played organ at school assemblies, hybridized lilies, and prepared elaborate faculty dinners.
Ellis B. Baker ’51
John R. Gow
If they gave a Tony for high school theater, Baker would have owned it. Drawing the best work from student actors, designers, and directors, he elevated the department to new heights, mounting shows that rivaled college productions.
An inspired teacher, “Doc” Gow had a passion for experimentation that was matched only by his ability to ignite the curiosity of students, many of whom didn’t even realize they harbored an interest in science until they entered his labs.
1950–1952 & 1958–1989
1957–1961 & 1966–2000
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Whitney Foard Small wanted a school in the heart of a buzzing music and arts scene—and she found it at Williston. She played the French horn and mandolin, and in between classes she rocked out at countless concerts in the Pioneer Valley. Her career took her to Asia, where she was the regional director of communications for Ford Motor Company, among other notable posts. She recently moved to Thailand, where she’s director of corporate communications for Thai Union Group, a multinational corporation based in Bangkok. Following a passion for literature and history sparked at Williston, in 2012 she founded Crushed Lime Media LLC, a book cooperative that produces interactive e-books through the Beebliome Books platform. A member of the Williston Board of Trustees, she speaks fluent Mandarin and is mastering Thai. What school project had an impact on you?
I wrote a pastry cookbook in calligraphy as part of my senior project with Barry Moser. It was
my own recipes, and I had it hand-bound in Northampton. I did everything, all the writing, with Mr. Moser’s help and encouragement. That’s unusual stuff to get to do, and it’s amazing how those things later actually fed into my professional life, into my vocation and avocation. It was funny because I had five editors to help me edit. I wrote the book all by hand, so making a mistake was painful. It wasn’t until my grandmother saw it that she found that one recipe was missing its icing. It was a sour cream chocolate layer cake, and the icing part was missing. Leave it to grandmothers to find these things, right? Which teachers most inspired you?
I think the curiosity and the freedom to explore ideas and philosophies in Religious Studies with Rev. Barnett was fantastic. And in history class with Hank
Teller, I was able to go deeply into history and look at what history means and how it informs. That’s a lifetime love of mine. So much so that I put the time and money into building the book cooperative so that other kids would have the same opportunities. What was the thinking behind the book collaborative?
PORTRAIT BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
I wanted to make books more interactive, so if children are reluctant readers, they can find more stimulation; and if they are curious readers, the can follow that curiosity. In the old days, when we just had libraries and books, a kid would read a book and then hopefully, if you were curious enough, you would get yourself down to the library and find out more. Now we just take it another step. We make it a little easier for people to go and find other things. Our books have embedded movies in them, they’ve got a lot of images. In some cases we actually put in glossaries about the ideas. You see a word in bold, you can tap on it and it’ll tell you more about the idea of that word or who that person was.
What spot on campus did you love?
I worked in the student snack bar with Grandma [Bernice Crowther], who ran it back in the ’70s—that was her nickname. She was a really lovely person, and she could cook a mean ECB—an egg, cheese, and bacon sandwich. If you worked at the snack bar, you knew everything going on on campus. It was just a big gossip session. Everyone came by and shared their news. How did Williston impact your career path?
I think by nature I was a curious person. Williston gave me a chance to really look around and see what was going on, and I was encouraged to take risks and to feed that curiosity. I think that led me around the world, frankly. It gave me courage.
If you worked at the snack bar, you knew everything going on on campus. It was just a big gossip session. Everyone came by and shared their news.” FALL 2016 BULLETIN 25
Laura Sachar ’80 At Williston, this venture capitalist discovered the rewards of taking chances The summer before her senior year in high school, Laura Sachar took a big risk, leaving her home and school in New Jersey to attend Williston. She’s been taking bold leaps ever since— shifting from her work as a financial journalist to become a venture capitalist, and then co-founding one of the largest women-owned venture capital companies in the nation, StarVest Partners, where she’s a managing partner. Last summer, she took another jump when she married and blended families with her husband. She lives between New York City and Westchester County with five children, two dogs, and three bunnies. Laura has a BA from Barnard College and an MBA from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.
26 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
How was your transition to Williston?
I was ready to go away to school, so I just did it a year earlier. I made such great friends. I loved the dorm life and having such great conversations with my friends about life. I loved the academic experience— it was very different from my high school in New Jersey. Coming to a new school your senior year is a big change. How did that experience influence you?
Right after Williston, I joined a French program. I got my passport and flew to France the same day, all by myself. Making that change to Williston my senior year, and it being such a good experience, must have given me the confidence to try something new. Probably part of my DNA was willing to take risks— that’s what had me go to Williston in the first place. And yet it was a risk with a lot of support, and then success from that decision built confidence to take other risks following Williston. Did any classes at Williston inspire your career path?
The writing I did at Williston definitely impacted my career. I became a financial journalist, which helped me to search out interesting companies, have a critical eye, be able to speak with senior executives and CEOs of companies in an analytical way as a young person—all that was a helpful background for me before I went to business school. I think those seminars, when you’re deciphering and challenging and thinking, those were great experiences. There was an excellent math class, and I continued to build my confidence in math, which is so
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Those seminars, when you’re deciphering and challenging and thinking, those were great experiences.”
WEIGHTY WORDS Commonly known as “The Brick,” The Norton Anthology of English Literature (shown here, the 1975 edition) was a standard item in students’ backpacks throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Ideal for boning up on Wordsworth, and not a bad doorstop, either!
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JAMI SAUNDERS (PORTRAIT) AND CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY (OBJECTS)
important for women. And I think having a woman teacher was probably very helpful.
SAT B-O-O-K Before tutoring centers and way before online SAT prep, there was… The Official SAT Study Guide. Whether your copy was dog-eared or barely opened, if you were a student in the 1970s through 1990s, you probably had one.
Why did you set out to start your own company?
I wanted to be in a position not only to invest but also to help those companies grow. I was lucky enough to find some partners who had some experience, and we’ve invested in over 50 companies, many of which have been acquired by large corporations. One is now a multi-billion-dollar market capitalization company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. What’s your experience as a woman in this industry?
Only 5 percent of partners of venture funds are women. So you stand out. We’ve built one of the largest women-owned venture funds in the U.S., so when someone comes to a meeting in our office, there’s often more women than men in the room. That’s so different in our field, and it’s a really fun experience to have and to have created.
BREAKING NEWS This mid-’70s edition of The Willistonian reports on the construction of the library—for a cool $2.1 million—as well as a new Student Handbook policy on the use of cutting-edge “tape recorders and record players” in dorm rooms.
Alex Park ’81 Newly arrived from South Korea, he learned at Williston the skills to find success in finance and banking
When I arrived, I was still ‘fresh off the boat,’ as they call it. That age of 15 is a very sensitive age. The culture, the new academic pressure, new language—it was a lot I had to adjust to.”
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One year after Alex Park’s family moved from South Korea to the United States, Alex found himself on campus in Easthampton. While he navigated changes in culture and language, he also developed a passion for singing with the Caterwaulers. He credits Williston with instilling a sense of creativity and openness that has made him a more adept businessman and a compassionate person. Park earned a degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MBA from the Stern School at New York University. He’s worked in the financial industry for more than 30 years, most recently as the executive vice president for Standard Charted Bank, South Korea. He lives in Seoul, serves on the Williston Board of Trustees, and is thrilled that his son Justin is currently a Wildcat. Who at Williston had a strong impact on you?
Mr. Gregory. He was my music teacher and ran the Caterwaulers. He had a wide range of interests: teaching music and English, writing
music. During the plays, he was designing costumes. He is an incredibly talented man and an amazingly intellectual individual. He was also very caring. There were a couple of times when I was in a difficult situation, coping with academic work and other things. He talked to other teachers to support me, and I still appreciate that. How did Williston introduce you to music and singing?
Williston’s atmosphere encouraged me to try different things. It wasn’t just about going and singing. It was about being able to express yourself. Being able to stand in front of people and perform. I arranged a song my senior year, “Please Please Me” by the Beatles. I don’t think that, quality-wise, it was as good as the songs that Mr. Gregory arranged for the group. But he let us learn and perform it. It was a great opportunity, the fact that I arranged and performed it with my group. It gave me a big boost.
PORTRAIT BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
How did Williston impact your life and career?
When I arrived, I was still “fresh off the boat,” as they call it. That age of 15 is a very sensitive age. The culture, the new academic pressure, new language—it was a lot I had to adjust to. So going through that experience made me very nimble, flexible, and more receptive to different changes and ideas. Even nowadays, I’m open to new ideas, and I think that comes from Williston. And being able to manage time. There’s a very strong academic
demand, but you have to learn to juggle other things. And caring about people. There were a few people who, because they knew I was foreign to the country, they really helped me. Now I think I can understand other people’s positions better.
Whitaker Bement Named for Northampton School founders Sarah Whitaker and Dorothy Bement, the building was designed as a girlsonly rec center in 1971. Not surprisingly, female students stayed away in droves, and Whitaker Bement went on to house the Middle School.
What do you enjoy about your work?
First, I like the talented people in this industry. I value the relationships. Second, what I do is look at the financial markets. I have to continuously monitor what’s happening all over the world. Not just economic news, but political developments, what’s happening socially in other countries. I have to stay on top of it. That’s work I enjoy not just to do a better job, but to be a better person. Third, there’s never the same boring day.
Williston Theatre Home to everything from Greek tragedy to modern musicals, the 288-seat performing arts space was rebuilt in 1995 next to Scott Hall after a fire destroyed the original structure (see photo at right).
What does it mean to you that your son now attends Williston?
Obviously, Williston was his choice, but I encouraged him. As a parent, when they come back and say, “I love the school,” that’s all I can ask for.
Robert Parker Clapp Class of 1875 Memorial Library Distinguished by the number of books on its shelves and the number of words in its official name, the library, built in 1978, adds more than 1,000 new items every year.
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Shawn Amos ’86
The marketing entrepreneur and musician has dedicated himself to keeping the blues alive
What was your transition to Williston like from L.A.?
Williston was like another planet. It felt very old and very conservative. It felt stuffy. And it was in the middle of nowhere. I was a kid who grew up in Hollywood. I was used to a lot of action and things that were the coolest and modern. But I had always been thoughtful and mindful and sensitive and artful, and I felt a little bit self-conscious of that in my Los Angeles life. Being at Williston, I discovered what it meant to be intellectual. I got to explore that part of myself and revel in it.
What at Williston influenced your music career?
I had a roommate named Nathaniel Foote. He was a musician. He came to Williston with a guitar. I really admired his singing and songwriting. I made it a mission of mine to further his career. He sparked the idea of creating music. I had always loved music, and music has in some ways literally saved my life. But I didn’t think I was someone who would make music. Hanging out with Nathaniel got me to think about that. I think it opened my eyes and got me comfortable with the idea of creating things. I was deeply involved in creating things at Williston. I acted in a play. I was writing poetry. I began experimenting with filmmaking. I got wildly immersed in exploring my creativity. What were some of the themes of your poetry as a teenager?
One of the things that I began expressing privately in my writing was about race and identity. I grew
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Why was Williston a transformative experience for you?
What I needed was to be in an environment where I would stand or fall based on my own merits and not have the excuse, however real it was, of a dysfunctional family or a distracting city. I had to claim responsibility for my own actions from top to bottom. I could have screwed that up or I could have risen to the occasion. I chose to rise to the occasion. I thought, wow, here’s a place where I can find out what I’m made of, out of my own merit. I can see what happens when I just do the work. And that has stayed with me forever. And I tell that to my own kids. All you have is the work you do. I felt like, this is your now-or-never moment. What are you going to make of your life?
What are you working on now?
I spent the last two years purposefully only listening to old blues because I really wanted to immerse myself. I wanted to become a real keen student of it and be worthy of carrying the torch along. I started a company in 2009 called Freshwire and I sold it in 2012 to a large advertising agency. I have this life of being in the marketing world and advising big brands about how to market and brand themselves in the social media space. I do a lot of public speaking on that topic. A lot of my life is involved in storytelling. Helping brands tell stories. Telling my own blues stories. It’s been fun. It’s been a wild ride.
PORTRAIT BY BETH HERZHAFT
Shawn Amos’ move from his fastpaced life in Los Angeles as the youngest son of cookie company founder Wally “Famous” Amos to the quiet of Williston’s campus rocked his teenage world. But his two years at the school were transformative, and helped him cultivate his artistic side. Now back in California, Amos is a songwriter, blues singer, digital-marketing entrepreneur, and founder of the digital content company Freshwire. His second full-length album, The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You, was released in the fall of 2015.
up a black male in white affluent neighborhoods. And then I went to this New England boarding school. I didn’t have a lot of black frames of reference, and it created a number of difficult identity issues that I had to work out. I later wrote a lot about this stuff in my earlier albums.
Reed Campus Center Constructed as a gym in 1930, the building was elegantly transformed in 1996 into the hub of student activity we know today through the financial generosity of John Reed ’33.
194 Main Street
A lot of my life is involved in storytelling. Helping brands tell stories. Telling my own blues stories. It’s been fun. It’s been a wild ride.”
A restored 1880 Victorian residence seamlessly integrated with two contemporary buildings, this ninth-grade girls dorm, built to LEED standards in 2008, features geothermal heating and cooling.
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Nonie Creme ’90
The cosmetics entrepreneur says without Williston, she would never have become an artist—or a punk
I can credit Williston and Marcia Reed for giving me a safe, open environment in which to become an artist and to explore art in a way that I had never done before.”
Nonie Creme says it’s no secret: she was a hell raiser as a teenager. Her parents hoped a new life away from her hometown of Houston, TX, would put her on a different trajectory. It worked, and Creme says her two years at Williston radically changed her life and cultivated her artistic streak and sense of style. Creme has been a widely successful entrepreneur whose first venture, cosmetics company butter London, sold in 2014. She recently started another company called Colour Prevails. Rather than targeting highend customers, she’s going after the mass market and has signed an exclusive deal with Walgreens. She lives in Seattle with her daughter, though her office is based in Manhattan. This past May, she gave the school’s Commencement address. What brought you to Williston?
I was a terrible teenager. After one of many run-ins with the police, my parents were like, You know what? This is not working out. I grew up in Houston. They thought that living away from home in a more structured environment would be a way to straighten me out. Becoming a boarding school kid was a fast track to adulthood. You got an 32 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
allowance from your parents. You had to manage your finances. You got your $300 a month or whatever it was and you had to budget that. And that had to pay for any outings and your laundry. You had to learn how to be self-sufficient. You can’t go running and crying to your dorm parent over all these things. They have 50 kids to look after. It was a very important life experience for me. And it did straighten me out, in the long run. Who at Williston had a significant impact on you?
There was an art teacher named Marcia Reed, who ran the art department. We all know where that ended up leading: that I went on to Scripps and went on to have a career that’s very heavily based on art and fine art. Really, I can credit Williston and Marcia Reed for giving me a safe, open environment in which to become an artist and to explore art in a way that I had never done before. It was very life changing.
How else did Williston impact your life?
Williston made me extremely resourceful, and being resourceful is one of the best qualities you can have coming out of the gate into adulthood. I would not be the same Nonie Creme if I hadn’t been to Williston. If I had stayed at a snobby Southern conservative day school, I would never have become a punk. I would have never immersed myself in that music scene. I would never have learned the social skills that I still need and use every day. The list goes on. I feel like being a Williston kid changed me for the better. What was your style at Williston?
It’s so funny. I recently had to have my photo taken for a publication. When I got it back, I thought, Holy s--t, I have not changed since Williston. There used to be in Northampton this funny hippy shop. It sold gothy jewelry and biker jackets and Doc Martens. I still have and still wear my Doc Martens that
I bought at Williston and I’m 43 years old. I had never really been exposed to goth and punk culture, and I learned all of that from my East Coast friends. So the style that I really still have, which is kind of punky and a little avant-garde, and that persona really came into existence at Williston. I’ve always come back to this rocker punky thing, and I still feel the most comfortable in my skin when I have a Mohawk and a nose ring.
PORTRAIT BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs at Williston?
I think that young people are incredibly lucky these days because of the advent of the Internet. The ability to be an entrepreneur has never been easier. The world is really your oyster. Be prepared to take calculated risks, but those risks have to be significant. You have got to have real courage to succeed, whether it’s as a social media personality or a young hedge-fund guy. You have to really have some guts.
Patrick Rissmiller ’97 This school Hall of Famer went on to a career in the NHL and Europe
The coach convinced me to pick up lacrosse. I never played the sport and I didn’t know the rules. So the first game was kind of interesting.” During his time at Williston, Patrick Rissmiller led the ice hockey team to a 23-4 record, the most wins in school history. He was named an AllNew England selection and NEPSAC West Senior All-Star, and in 2013 he was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. After playing for the College of the Holy Cross (he is a 2010 inductee into that school’s Hall of Fame as well), he played in the National Hockey League for the San Jose Sharks, New York Rangers, Atlanta Thrashers, and Florida Panthers. He recently returned from two years playing in Italy for Ritten-Renon. Of his 13 seasons of professional ice hockey, he says, “I didn’t think I would be playing as long as I have.” He is currently a player development coach for the New Jersey Devils. How did you feel on your first day at Williston?
My family is from Belmont, Massachusetts, which seemed a world away when I got dropped off. I was 16 or 17. I vividly remember thinking, “What am I doing? What did I get
FROM THE ARCHIVES myself into?” I unpacked, and then I didn’t have much time because I played soccer and was right onto the field. What did you try at Williston that surprised you?
I did Couch’s photography class, which was fun. That was something I never would have done if I had stayed in public school. I was a baseball player, but the lacrosse coach convinced me to pick up lacrosse. I never played the sport and I didn’t know the rules. So the first game was kind of interesting. I ended up playing for a year in college. I think when you’re in a school like Williston, you’re more willing to try things.
WINS AND PINS The perfect complement to a shiny varsity sports pin? This ceramic model, which former field hockey tri-captain Alisha Deary ’10 had made in 2009.
STAGE DESIGN This rendering shows the set and details for The Front Page, which was performed in the Williston Theatre in November of 1971.
LIFE-SIZE PUPPETS Puppets had a heyday in the 2000s during many splendid Williston Children’s Theatre shows. Here, Mr. Tumnus from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
WIDDIGER WEAR Widdigers in the 1980s sported these blue and green scarves. Meanwhile, Caterwaulers of that time distinguished themselves with a special necktie.
HALL OF FAME Started in 2013, the Athletic Hall of Fame each year recognizes Wildcat prowess. Inductees include Ray Brown, Wilmot Babcock, and the crop on page 14.
FUN ON ICE Wildcat hockey pucks have been sporting the WNS name and logo since the merger; in recent years, the tree logo has changed to the shield.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY MATTHEW CAVANAUGH (PORTRAIT) AND CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY (OBJECTS)
How did it feel to be inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame?
It was great. My older brother, who was a post-grad, got the ball rolling. To get in with all those good athletes was quite an honor. I’m not the type of person who would toot my own horn, but it’s always nice to get the recognition. What did you enjoy the most about playing hockey in Italy?
Its beautiful scenery. We traveled a lot: Rome, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Paris. I played twice a week, so it’s a little lower key than it is here. It’s fun, and I was home all the time. It’s a very simple, easy life over there. Have you gotten your 2-year-old daughter on the ice yet?
I have, in Italy. She would hold my hand and walk around the ice. I wouldn’t say she loved it, but she grew to like it. Being a hockey player, I would love to see my kids play. But it was just fun to have her out there and know that she enjoyed it.
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Seeing the party go off—that’s a very addictive feeling. It’s a form of giving.”
From the DJ Club’s only member to acclaimed mash-up artist and music producer
When Steve Porter joined the DJ Club at Williston, he never imagined it would set the beat for a career as a sought-after international DJ and wildly successful video mashup artist. In 2009, Porter created PorterHouse Media, where he mixes and blends video mash-up commercials for clients like The Walt Disney Company, Honda, and the National Basketball Association. A recent transplant to Los Angeles, he has won two Webby Awards, among others, for his work, and in 2012, Fast Company named him among the top 100 most creative people in business. How did you get your start as a DJ at Williston?
The DJ Club. The former school chef, Mark Moffett, was the head
of the club. We met in one of the side cafeteria rooms. We talked about what songs the kids wanted to hear at the dances. I was just drawn to it. As soon as I started it, I just never left. What kind of student were you?
I was an outsider. I lived in Sawyer House, and then I lived in Swan Cottage the last two years. I was huge into Frisbee with my dorm mates, but golf was my sport. I was definitely a late bloomer, and I was pretty shy. Fear of rejection was something that kept me from going farther into the social circles at school. I wasn’t a mute, but I wasn’t the first to chime in. I think it was just a lack of confidence.
36 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
I was interning with Mark at one of his local weekend gigs. It was the Franklin Tech semiformal at the former Clarion Hotel in Northampton. During the gig, he said, “I have to go to the bathroom. Can you mix a couple of records?” This was my first experience mixing in front of a crowd. Hilariously, I played “Come On Ride the Train” into “The Macarena.” Halfway through my senior year, I was in charge of putting on the school dances in the campus center. I had the equipment and the music, and I was the only person in the DJ Club. What is the feeling you get when you DJ?
Seeing people dancing, seeing the party go off—that’s a very addictive feeling. It’s a form of giving. I started to dig deeper into the science of producing tracks and the concepts of blending beats and telling a story and
making unique music. You have a lot of artistic control when you can mix your own music into your DJ sets. That was a draw to me as well. Could you predict that your DJ Club days would take you here?
My dad passed away a year after I graduated. This sort of accelerated my development, you could say, as I was only tinkering with potential directions for my career. I pretty much immediately gravitated and set due course toward the one thing I was passionate about, and that was the music and DJing work I was doing at Williston. My mom was understandably nervous at the time, as this wasn’t exactly a PhD program I was interested in, but she always believed in me and could tell I was passionate about what I was doing. Coming from the DJ Club to where I am now was an enormous life lesson to jump headfirst into whatever your passion is.
PORTRAIT PROVIDED BY PORTERHOUSE MEDIA
Steve Porter ’97
When did you first DJ a dance?
ARE YOU AN ARCHETYPE? The Breakfast Club debuted in 1985. Could it be that John Hughes ripped off the stereotypes skewered so brilliantly—if insensitively—by this poster? Archivist Richard Teller says it circulated around campus in the fall of 1983. Pictured are Talbots-swaddled Connie Murphy ’84 as The Prep, Mary Ellen Bull ’83 as the Marlboro-smoking (!) NonPrep, and Hank Baer ’83 as the concussion-addled Jock. What makes the poster more than mere nostalgia, notes Teller, is that “the archetypes haven’t changed much in 33 years.”
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Allison Robb ’00
A career as an art historian began in the darkrooms of Photo 101
Richard C. Gregory 1961–2004
Chair of the arts department, director of the music program, actor and director, advisor to all three choral groups, Gregory was Williston’s own Renaissance man. The Richard C. Gregory Faculty Chair, awarded every five years, honors his profound dedication to the arts.
Williston was the last stop on Allison Robb’s prep-school tour. She was ready to throw in the towel; no school was singing to her. Then she stepped onto campus and fell in love. She made the move from Athens, Georgia, to Easthampton, and the choice launched her into the art world. After Williston, she earned her bachelor of fine arts at Syracuse University, and her master’s and PhD from the University of Manchester in England. She lives in Brooklyn and is the artist liaison for the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea. How did you know Williston was the right school for you?
Robert Couch ’50 1965–1997
Between teaching, coaching, and dorm-parenting, the man known as Couchie single-handedly developed Williston’s photography program. “He was so inspiring,” says Ed Hing ’77, who would go on to succeed his mentor as Williston’s photography teacher.
The minute I stepped on campus, I got an actual feeling and thought, “This is it. This is the school for me.” It was the artistic, experimental environment of Northampton. And walking around campus at Williston, there were people who were dressing the way that they wanted to, exploring who they were, and being able to visually demonstrate that on a campus. For me, being raised with artistic freedom and a background in the creative arts—that was paramount. Which teacher had the most impact on you?
Ed Hing. In hindsight, he had a major influence on the trajectory
of my education and ultimately career path. When I started taking Ed’s course Photo 101, photography became more than a hobby to me. It became kind of a passage into a career. I didn’t think that Ed was too strict or stern, but you wanted to do good work for him. That photography department at Williston was what brought me to art school and then later into the art scene. Can you remember a photography project?
We had to find an artist we were interested in, and try to emulate that person. For me, it was Diane Arbus. I remember looking at all of her photographs and being really interested in the way that she photographed people and their environments. I went to an assisted living facility and followed some people around and photographed them throughout the day, throughout their daily chores, and tried to show the mundane and perhaps darker side of that experience. I don’t think the work that I did was great, but the exercise and research that came from that project instilled a deep love and appreciation for documentary photography, in all its complexities.
How did you get drawn into working in the art world?
After college I moved to NYC and had a job in the fashion industry, and after a few years became a bit disillusioned with what I was doing. The quarter-life crisis is a real thing. I decided to intern on the weekends at a small gallery. I did the schlepping around New York City, getting coffee for people, and then, during the week, I had my real job, where I had an assistant. It was a pretty weird role reversal for me, but I liked working in the gallery. That brought me to wanting to get my master’s in art history, so I could understand how to speak about art a little bit more. And then you pursued your PhD in art history?
Again, I’m sure Williston played a part in my feeling OK about moving to a foreign country for school. While in the master’s program I met an American professor in England, Amelia Jones, who opened me up to feminist theory and art theory, and thinking about art and visual culture in ways that were outside of the traditional scope of art history. There was a history that I didn’t even know about within the women’s art movement, that informed and was informed by the women’s rights movement, civil rights movement, gay rights movement, etcetera. Amelia championed me to get my doctorate, so I enrolled in Manchester’s PhD program. That was another moment in my life where an academic shifted things for me.
PORTRAIT BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
That photography department at Williston was what brought me to art school and then later into the art scene.â€?
FALL 2016 BULLETIN 39
I use tissue paper because it’s fragile but beautiful, and it came full circle for me creatively. It made me appreciate something that was ephemeral and fleeting.”
PORTRAIT BY CHRISTOPHER CHARLES
MAYA FREELON ASANTE ’01 An artist of the ephemeral experiences life’s fragility, and turns her tragedy into a message of support for others
At Williston, award-winning visual artist Maya Freelon Asante showcased a solo exhibition of her art— the first of many to come. She credits the school with prompting her to develop her political voice and sense of personal advocacy, which threads throughout her career. Cosmopolitan magazine has called Asante “one of the most bad-ass female artists in the biz.” Her delicate tissue paper art has been exhibited internationally, with shows in Paris, Jamaica, Madagascar, and Italy. In 2015, Asante and her husband experienced the loss of their newborn son. Her subsequent gallery show at Morton Fine Art in Washington, D.C., reflected this loss, and the couple is currently making a documentary film about the experience, called Waiting on Wonderful. Who at Williston had a strong impact on you?
My art teacher, Marcia Reed. She always challenged me to try new things, to go bigger, and offered me my first solo exhibition at Grubbs Gallery as my senior project. She knew that I could do it. It was a real gallery, with labels and an artist statement. She set me up to practice professionally before I graduated high school. I was able to have a reception and really do it the way that professional artists did. I was so grateful for the opportunity. Having it in there, with an official exhibition card with my art on it, that was an amazing feeling.
How did Williston encourage your political voice?
Why is it important for you to share this story?
I was on the student council. I also was president of A4 and T.R.I.BE., student groups that helped address the lack of diversity in the faculty, and differential disciplinary treatment for students of color on scholarship versus legacy families paying full tuition. Political power had always been around me, but I didn’t realize that I could have any impact as a student.
By acknowledging infant death, it becomes less of a taboo. I want people to know that they can find some healing instead of suffering in silence. Williston allowed me to realize that my voice is powerful. You can challenge anything, including a teacher. I’ve taken that experience into the real world, because you have to be your own advocate and speak up with your own voice so you can help other people.
What’s inspiring your work right now?
My husband and I had a baby in October 2015. He passed away after three days. He had a condition called anencephaly. We knew for the last 10 weeks of the pregnancy, which prepared me a little bit for the experience. We immediately named him Wonderful Legacy Asante and honored him, even though it was 100 percent certain that babies can’t survive with that condition. It allowed us to appreciate him and his life even though it was shorter than expected. For me in my art process, I always talk about the fragility of life. I use tissue paper because it’s fragile but beautiful, and it came full circle for me creatively. It made me appreciate something that was ephemeral and fleeting.
What’s a favorite memory of your time at Williston?
My grandmother came to Grandparents’ Day, and she made the whole school stand up and sing with her. My grandmother was an amazing woman. She was an activist and marched on Washington. I remember asking her specifically, “Whatever you do, please don’t make people sing.” She didn’t listen. At lunch, I have a distinct memory of all these people coming up to me and saying, “Your grandmother is so cool. All I want to do in assembly is stand up and sing and she let us do that.” I realized that my grandma knew how to connect with people. People told me hanging out with her was the highlight of their day.
Susan Curry Barnett 1967–2011
A 2015 inductee to Williston’s Athletic Hall of Fame, Barnett set many coaching records, including career softball wins. In addition to teaching psychology and serving as Assistant Dean, her greatest achievement was to ensure that female athletes enjoyed full access and opportunity.
Alan Lipp 1975–2013
From Middle School pre-algebra to the post-calculus Upper School classes he introduced at Williston, Lipp maintained that math should be “fun, interesting, and comprehensible.” His brilliant teaching made it so for generations of grateful students.
FALL 2016 BULLETIN 41
ALEX TEECE ’04
An educator works to build his dream: a charter school in Hawaii
Why do we often find that expectations are lowest for our children growing up in poverty?”
Alex Teece had such a phenomenal educational experience at Williston that it got him wondering: Why can’t every kid have access to the same? After Teach For America brought him to Hawaii eight years ago, he settled into life on the island of O’ahu. He’s working to start the DreamHouse Ewa Beach charter school, of which he’ll serve as founding school director. In the spring of 2016, he graduated as a Zuckerman Fellow from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with a master’s degree (his third) from the School Leadership Program. At Williston, he played 17 seasons of sports and also coached soccer at the Middle School his senior year. What teacher had the most impact on you?
Paul Sonerson had high expectations for me as a student and as a person. On the first day, I forgot my assignment notebook, and I made a joke that I had left my assignment notebook on my hamster cage at home, and he pulled me out, right in front of the entire class on the first day, and he said, “Now you’ll never forget that assignment notebook again, will you?” I said, “No I won’t.” And he said, “Jokes are fine, just don’t be a clown.” And I distinctly remember that from when I was, what, 12 years old? What did you learn from playing 17 seasons of sports?
It gave me an outlet to build friendships and teamwork, and to learn about myself, about competition and composure, and losing with grace, and good sportsmanship. All of those things layer onto academics.
42 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL
What major political or social events do you remember?
I still remember exactly where I was when the planes hit the towers on 9/11. I walked into the Stu-Bop, and I caught the second plane hitting the second tower. That was really shocking to me. We had an emergency meeting in the Chapel, and then we went to classes. But it wasn’t regular classes. I remember just sitting down and talking about what was happening, the shock, the fact that there were “terrorists,” and we just started to flush that out, the day of, at 15 and 16 years old. How did Williston impact your career path in education?
I was so blessed to be able to go to private school and see how exceptional the experience was. I went into Teach For America and started teaching in a public school in Hawaii, and I realized that there was a very, very stark difference. For me, I think the big question is, why is that the case? Why do we often find that expectations are lowest for our children growing up in poverty, and the outcomes are drastically less compared with kids coming out of private school? Why can’t we have the same bit of energy, focus, expectations, and culture in our under-resourced public schools as we do in our most affluent areas in private schools? Why is this school your passion?
I have a vision of kids growing up in the community and being empowered to be leaders, and going to college, and coming back to lead their community. There’s a bit of fundraising involved, a bit of business, a bit of politics, a bit of community mobilizing—all of that wrapped into a project that will hopefully empower the next generation of leaders in Hawaii.
Debbie Andres ’11 The daughter of Peruvian immigrants is setting her sights on teaching
Debbie Andres knew she wanted to attend a boarding school, but she wasn’t sure which one. She teamed up with a program called NJ SEEDS, which helps connect high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds with the nation’s finest schools. Williston won her over, and inspired by the teachers she met in Easthampton, she’s now a teacher herself. She completed a five-year program at Rutgers University, earning her master’s in education, and teaches physics at Paramus High School in New Jersey.
PORTRAITS BY CHATTMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
What made you so academically driven?
My parents have always pushed me to do the best I can. My parents are from Peru. They didn’t get as much education as they would have liked. They knew we had a lot of opportunities to do whatever was possible. I was always very interested in learning. It wasn’t really anything they could help me with because they were still trying to get adjusted to the culture. I told them that there are these amazing high schools out there, and I want to go to boarding school. They did not like the idea, but they knew that was the best thing that could happen for me. I filled out the parent questionnaire, I filled out the financial aid package, and I organized the interviews.
How did it feel to be a woman of color on campus?
I was very self-conscious. I felt like I had to perform all the time. I could not slack. I felt like I was representing my culture. I walked into English class my freshman year and I was one of 12. First of all, I thought that was crazy because I came from a town where we had 20 to 30 people per class. I was the only Hispanic person in that class. My middle school was all Spanish. I knew Williston was predominately upper-middle-class students and mostly students from Caucasian backgrounds. I didn’t know how much I would stick out because I’m Hispanic. I was scared. I did notice that there were opportunities that other kids had in their lives that I didn’t have. I felt like I had to catch up. Money was never an issue for me. If I wanted to take an SAT course, the financial aid office was really great. I tried to limit as much as possible how much I asked my parents for money. This was my decision, and I know that they had a lot of other hardships to worry about. I got a summer job after my first year to pay for any of the fees.
When you go to a school as amazing as Williston, it’s really hard to go home.”
What teacher had the most impact on you?
What do you remember about your graduation day?
I had a really good teacher, Ara Brown, who was a minority himself, and he knew the transitions for minority students were difficult. He had these little gatherings with pizza. When you go to a school as amazing as Williston, it’s really hard to go home. So it was important for us to ground ourselves. He had gatherings where we could talk about these issues. It really helped knowing I wasn’t alone in the world in regards to being a minority student.
For graduation, my parents came. Three of my siblings came. My niece and nephew and my brother came. It was probably a party of 10. I remember Ms. Brousseau from the athletic department said my family was the rowdiest, proudest people she had seen at graduation. Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I was set on being an engineer, and then the possibility of being a teacher came up. A lot of the credit goes to the people at Williston who had so much impact on me and pushed me to be the best I could, and realizing that I could be that person for somebody else. FALL 2016 BULLETIN 43
Ann Vanderburgh 1978–2010
In 32 years as a math teacher and Dean of Faculty, Ann Van touched young lives with her gentleness and compassion. “She is more than a teacher,” wrote the Class of 1983 in dedicating the Log to her. “She is a friend.” Thirty-one other classes agreed.
Marcia Reed 1978–2012
An accomplished painter with a talent for helping others refine their own artistry, Reed over the course of three decades expanded Williston’s studio program while preparing students for admission to some of the country’s top art schools.
GABRIELLE THOMAS ’15 In taking on the work of the classroom, a champion sprinter found her focus for running For one of the nation’s fastest female runners, Gabby Thomas had a slow start warming up to the sport. At Williston, her mother saw her speed on the soccer field, and pushed her to try track. Good thing, because it wasn’t long before Gabby was breaking school records in the 100-meter dash, the long jump, and the triple jump, and then taking home gold at the New England Championships. Now running for Harvard University, Gabby competed at the Olympic Trials in July and just missed earning a slot on the team, finishing sixth in the 200-meter final. When she’s back in Easthampton, you might find her eating cake batter ice cream at Mt. Tom’s. Which teacher or coach had the most impact on you?
PORTRAIT BY KATHLEEN DOOHER
Ms. McCullagh, my track coach, was so encouraging and supportive in every aspect of my life. Even now she’s incredibly supportive. She’s
been to more of my races than my parents have. And my soccer coach, Ms. Davey, was actually one of the biggest influences in athletics, giving me this sense of being part of a team and working hard. She gave us a lot of tough love. How did you feel about running track at first?
The first few days were really tough. There were a lot of Upper Schoolers, and it was super intimidating and scary. It was a lot of running, and I didn’t like that at all. It got better as I got older. It wasn’t until my sophomore year when I started setting goals for myself and realizing that I could do something with track, that it was more than a sport I was forced to do after school. I started to really enjoy it and take it seriously. At the New England Championships, my sophomore year, I was trying to break the school record in the 100-meter dash [which she did, clocking in with a time of 12.06 seconds]. I was so excited to break the record, and I loved that feeling.
Describe the feeling you have when you’re running fast.
If you asked me that last year, it would have been different than it is this year. This year, my racing really is 100 percent about focus. If you’re super nervous or anxious or excited and you have that adrenalin rush, you need to put that aside for a minute and just really focus on executing what you’re suppose to be executing. It takes a lot of focus not to be looking at the girls next to you or worrying about the end result of the race. I’m trying to be in the moment. Last year, it was about the race feeling super fast and exhilarating, and before you know it, it’s over.
Your training is rigorous. How did Williston help you develop your focus and mental toughness?
I’m sure I got a lot of the skills that I have now from Williston. There was so much studying, which requires a lot of focus and time management, and pushing yourself past yourself. What music do you listen to when you’re getting ready for a meet?
I have a pump-up play list that I listen to. On that you can find Kanye West and some super-poppy songs.
I started setting goals for myself and realizing that I could do something with track, that it was more than a sport I was forced to do after school. I started to really enjoy it and take it seriously.”
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