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NEW MUSIC in a new space


A Giant on Campus

A costume sketch drawn by Dick Gregory for a Williston Theatre production



Jennifer duBois ’02 was recently the first alumna author to participate in the Writers’ Workshop Series


16 | MASTERING TEACHING It's the hardest thing to do well. Campus leaders, alumni, and students talk about raising their game. 20 | A COACH'S LEGACY Alumni reflect on a coach, teacher, and mentor who led one of the most successful lacrosse teams in Williston Northampton history. 24 | GIANT ON CAMPUS A conversation with Dick Gregory, who helped shape and define the performing arts over four decades.


4 | NEW FACES A Viva Quetzal performer, neuroscientist, and mathematician are among the new faculty this year. 8 | NEW TRUSTEES There are five new members of the Board of Trustees, including three alumni and two parents of current students. 12 | SPORTS REVIEW The Wildcats excelled on the field in the spring of 2012. Catch up on all the action.


14 | WRITERS’ WORKSHOP SERIES The Writers’ Workshop Series features an alumna for the first time this fall. Plus acclaimed writers Anita Shreve, Mo Willems, and Christopher Benfey.



Dick Gregory remembers more than 40 years of teaching.

29 | CLASS NOTES Alumni news from classmates and former faculty, pictures from Reunion, and alumni profiles. 63 | OBITUARIES Remembering those we’ve lost.

64 | FROM THE ARCHIVES An impossible man who “choose to make the game of life a game of solitaire” and was beloved despite of it.

HEAD OF SCHOOL Robert W. Hill III P’15 Chief Advancement Officer

Director of Alumni Relations Jeff Pilgrim ’81 Director of Communications Traci Wolfe P’16 Assistant Directors of Communications Kathleen Unruh P’13 Rachael Hanley Emily Gowdey-Backus Design Director Aruna Goldstein

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 Established in 1915, the Bulletin is published by the Advancement Office for the benefit of alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends of The Williston Northampton School.

THE IMPACT OF GREAT TEACHING W HEN SHEILA FISHER ’72 SPOKE AT THE CUM LAUDE SOCIETY INDUCTION ceremony last January, I was particularly moved by what she remembered about her time at The Williston Northampton School. A member of the first coeducational class, Professor Fisher graduated as valedictorian and clearly excelled in every way at Williston Northampton. After graduating from Smith College and Yale University, Professor Fisher became the associate academic dean at Trinity College in Hartford. She recently published a new, acclaimed translation of The Canterbury Tales. What struck me was the way Professor Fisher described her experience at Williston Northampton. She remembered a campus during a time of transition and growth, and a merged faculty that created a formidable academic force. “There were giants on the earth in those days,” Professor Fisher said. Those words came back to me as I watched a group of retired faculty return to campus for Reunion last June. It was incredibly moving to see alumni of all generations hug the men and women who had clearly been giants to them, too. Not only had these faculty members made Williston Northampton the central point of their careers, they had also spent years devoting their entire lives to the school and its alumni. Young teachers who changed lives on the Williston Northampton campus grew into masters; sadly, some of them are no longer with us. Reading about Tom Keenan ’73 (pg. 20) and his work as a lacrosse coach—as seen through the eyes and words of the alumni who once competed under his guidance—it is clear that the lessons Tom taught continue to have an impact on the lives of his players. I am not a teacher, but I consider myself fortunate to watch firsthand what it means when teaching is done well—I see it every day on this campus. It is clear that teaching at Williston Northampton is more than what goes on in our classrooms; there is something amazing that happens when a student knows a teacher believes in him or her and sees the potential and passion there. What can’t we do when a giant recognizes who we are and the people we are becoming? There are certain words that run through my head in the voices of those who taught me—I imagine the same is true for you. We’d love to hear your stories of those who inspired you, so please be in touch and share your memories. With best wishes,

Cover photo: by Kathleen Dooher of Jared Choi ’12, Carnegie Mellon ’16


Traci Wolfe P’16


Eric Yates P’17



pounds of pasta prepared each week


people who “like” the Williston Northampton Facebook page


extra chairs for campus events

work orders filled by Physical Plant each month



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campus news

|   new



a Bread Loaf School scholar; and a neuroscience major are just some of the highlights of The Williston Northampton School’s newest faculty members. Peter Valine, dean of faculty, is “excited to welcome this distinguished group of new faculty. While some of these teachers are launching their teaching careers and others are seasoned veterans, they share a passion for their respective disciplines,” he said. Let us introduce you to:

Adeleen V. Brown French Teacher

Logan L. Brown English Teacher

Rachel A. Chambers Art Teacher

Michael Doubleday History Teacher

Brown earned a B.A. in French and sociology with a minor in Spanish from Principia College and an M.A. in French literature from Indiana University. She has studied in Guatemala, France, and Mexico.

Brown received her B.A. in political science from Middlebury College. She was a senior English volunteer intern at the Denver School of Science and Technology: Stapleton High School in Denver, Colorado.

Chambers received her B.F.A. and M.F.A. in crafts and fiber arts from Kutztown University and the Tyler School of Art. She recently completed a graduate certificate in education at Keene State College.

Doubleday has a B.A. in American studies from Colby College and an M.Ed. from Antioch New England Graduate School. He has coached JV boys lacrosse and varsity swimming at Williston since 2010.

Additionally, Marcella Simpson and Andrew Shelffo are teaching this year in place of faculty on sabbatical.


teaching faculty members across six departments



of teaching faculty have masters or Ph.D.s

145 courses taught this year

37 honors or AP classes


Kathryn Hill Math Teacher

Ronald “Chip” Horton Chemistry Teacher

Michelle M. Lawson Chemistry Teacher

Paul M. Rutherford Physics Teacher

Hill earned a B.A. in math and classical languages from Yale and an M.Ed. from Notre Dame College in curriculum and instruction. She has worked at several independent schools including St. Andrews, St. Paul’s, Choate, and Carolina Day.

Horton received a B.A. in chemistry and mathematics from Dartmouth College and his M.S. in organic chemistry from the University of California. He previously taught chemistry at the Ross School and Mercersburg Academy.

Lawson graduated from Bowdoin College in May 2012 with a degree in neuroscience and a minor in chemistry. At Bowdoin, she served as an organic chemistry tutor, senior honors student researcher, and a chemistry study group leader.

Rutherford received a B.A. in economics with a minor in mathematics and physics from Kenyon College. He has previously taught at St. Thomas More School where he taught physics, calculus, and algebra and coached basketball and baseball.

Ryan P. Tyree English Teacher

Katherine Verdickt ’05 Art Intern

Jon Weeks Wind Ensemble Instructor

Charlotte Wilinsky ’07 AP Psychology Teacher

Tyree earned a B.A. in communications from UMass, an M.A. in secondary education from the University of Phoenix, and is completing an M.A. program at Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School. He comes to the school from Eaglebrook School.

Verdickt received her B.F.A. from RISD and is currently a candidate for an M.F.A. at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She interned in Venice, CA; New York City; and taught visual arts at the Eaglebrook School.

Weeks is a performer with Viva Quetzal and several other groups and has been the instrumental ensemble director at the Academy of Charlemont since 1993.

Wilinsky earned her B.A. in psychology from Amherst College where she completed an honors thesis. She works in Advancement as the assistant director of annual giving and coaches girls varsity tennis.


campus news

|   convocation


Williston Northampton celebrates the opening of the academic year with a story of overcoming obstacles, a lasting love of Williston, and tears for two accomplished faculty.


Northampton School’s 172nd Convocation opened the year by reminding the assembled student body that huge achievements come from small starts. “Take small, sure-footed steps at first and the giant leaps are sure to follow,” said Head of School Bob Hill. Matthew Freire ’13, senior class president, reminded his fellow students that success never came without obstacles— and a few failures. “You must not give up. There will be a day where your hard work will pay off and you will receive an A on that paper,” he said. “Embrace those moments…Learn to use your struggles as a motivation to become successful.”

In his reflection, Glenn Swanson ’64, P’14, ’16 compared the year to a journey “sometimes towards a specific goal, sometimes towards a greater understanding of community, and decidedly towards a better understanding of self.” Students gather outside Reed Campus Center and pose for photographs before the 172nd Convocation ceremony.


Convocation speaker and President of the Board of Trustees Elizabeth D’Amour P’00, ’03, ’04, ’07 (right) sits with her husband Charles ’70 (left) at the Senior Class Dinner. In her speech, she said she felt a love for the school that came from “witnessing the dedication, passion, and caring of the faculty, staff, fellow parents, and students.”


Tim Murphy ’96 (above) , the Senior Class Dinner speaker, jokes around before events begin. Senior Class President Matt Freire ’13 (below) spoke of overcoming obstacles at the 172nd Convocation.

The Richard C. Gregory Faculty Chair, established and funded primarily by Chuck Tauck ’72 and Jack Tatelman ’73, was awarded to Academic Dean and English teacher Greg Tuleja (right). The Hagedorn Family Faculty Chair was presented, in absentia, to English teacher Harris Thompson.


c a m p u s n e w s  | 

new trustees

NEW TO THE TEAM The Williston Northampton School welcomes five new trustees, including three alumni and two parents of current students.

Mary E. Alcock ’84

Appointed 2012; term ends 2017 New York City, NY Mary E. Alcock is counsel based in the New York office of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. Mary’s practice focuses on employee benefits and executive compensation matters, including design and regulatory compliance. She regularly advises clients on corporate governance issues as well as on disclosure issues relating to compensation. Alcock also counsels financial institutions on the issues arising under pension and tax laws with respect to their many and varied interactions with pension funds. She is recognized as a leading employee

benefits lawyer by The Best Lawyers in America and The Legal 500. Alcock is a co-author of “Not Just Financial Reform: DoddFrank’s Executive Compensation & Governance Requirements” in The Corporate Governance Advisor (Aspen, September/October 2010). She joined Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in 1993 and became counsel in 2002. Alcock received a J.D. degree in 1993 from Yale Law School and an undergraduate degree, summa cum laude, in 1988 from Yale University. She is a member of the New York State Bar. ■

John P. Booth Jr. ’83

Appointed 2012; term ends 2017


from left to right Jay Nichols P’15, Mary Alcock ’84, Keith Denholm, P’14, Whitney Small ’79, and John Booth ’83.

Greenwich, CT John Booth is the chairman of the History/Social Sciences Department at Brunswick School in Greenwich, CT. He has taught in private schools for 24 years. His first teaching assignment prior to the private school realm led him to Tokyo, Japan where he worked for two years at the Overseas Training Corporation (OTC). Booth's local community efforts include serving on the Greenwich Town Board of Social Services from 2003-2006, including a year as chairman of the Board. He is currently in his sixth year as a Justice of the Peace in the state of Connecticut. Booth is also a member of the Greenwich 9th

District Veterans. John earned a B.A. in history from Williams College in 1987 where he was a Herbert H. Lehman Scholar. He earned an M.A. in American history from Fordham University in 1994. Booth is married to Laura Booth, and they have two children, Julia and Aimee. ■

Keith Denholm P’14

Appointed 2012; term ends 2017 Greenwich, CT Keith Denholm attended Glenalmond College and Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland. His career started as a seafarer on Denholm Group vessels. Denholm then trained in various divisions of J & J Denholm Ltd

and Denholm Ship Management based in Glasgow, Scotland. He moved to the United States in 1988 where he was involved in tanker broking, ship management, dry cargo, and tanker operating. In May 2000, Denholm was appointed commercial director of Pacific Carriers Ltd, Singapore and also commercial director of Malaysian Bulk Carriers which is listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange. In 2010, he returned to the U.S. and is now senior vice president and head of freight trading at Louis Dreyfus Highbridge Energy LLC. Denholm is also a director of J&J Denholm Ltd, Glasgow, and a member of the Norwegian Hull Club committee, and past chairman of the Baltic Exchange Freight Derivatives Users Group. He recently stepped down from the Executive Committee of Intercargo and from the Board of Tailwind Shipping, Bergen, Norway.


counting firm of Matson, Driscoll and D’Amico. Nichols holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Babson College. He is married to Nancy Nichols, and they have two children, including Sarah ’15. ■

Whitney Small ’79

Appointed 2012; term ends 2017 Bangkok, Thailand A veteran in the field of communications, Whitney Foard Small’s career has spanned the full spectrum of public affair–from crisis communications, corporate and product communications

Catharine Porter P’97 was awarded the Eminent Service Award.

to CSR, technology, digital and marketing communications. In her present role as Ford Motor Company’s regional director of communications for Asia Pacific and Africa (APA), Small leads a team of 42 communicators in the research, planning, and execution of product and corporate communications programs in 11 markets across the region. Since joining Ford in 2006, Small has transformed Ford’s APA communications function into an extremely nimble regional team, sharing centralized resources

to tell the Ford story to every audience and for every product. A Chinese and occasional Thai speaker, Small is an associate member of the Foreign Correspondents Clubs of Hong Kong and Thailand, where she has been elected to the Board of Executives three times, and is a corporate member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and the US-China Business Council. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Small also studied at Nankai University in Tianjin, China.

President of the Board of Trustees Elizabeth D’Amour P’00, ’03, ’04, ’07.

Jay Nichols P’15

Appointed 2012; term ends 2017 Longmeadow, Massachusetts Jay Nichols is the chief executive officer of AXIS Re. He was appointed to the position in April 2012. Nichols is the former president of RenaissanceRe Ventures Ltd., where he and his team were responsible for business development and management of RenaissanceRe’s Joint Ventures and Venture Capital businesses. In his role at RenaissanceRe, he was responsible for the formation of DaVinci Reinsurance and Top Layer Reinsurance, as well as several sidecars and other ventures. Prior to joining RenaissanceRe in 1995, Nichols held various positions at Hartford Steam Boiler; Monarch Capital; and the ac-


Former president of the Board of Trustees Fred Allardyce ’59.

At this fall’s Board of Trustees meeting, Catharine Porter P’97 was awarded the Eminent Service Award, which is presented by the Alumni Association in recognition of extraordinary service to The Williston Northampton School. Porter was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1998. She served as Parents’ Association chair from 19951996, 1997-1998, and as the PA vice president from 1996-1997. Porter volunteered for the school’s annual fund, auction, and Admission efforts as well. A visionary, who recognizes the connections that surround us in ways that others often do not, Porter was a driving force behind Williston+, helping Williston Northampton craft a program that shaped the curriculum and resulted in new initiatives. She has continued to support Williston+ with a generous donation to the program’s endowment, helping to ensure its future.



from left to right Kiernan Zehring, Brianna McBride, and Sasha Gluzman

Marcia Reed and Ann Pickrell: After almost 35 years of teaching art at Williston Northampton, Reed has retired to open Gallery 37-A in Milford, Delaware.

from left to right Danny Rowe, Caitlyn Riley 10 THE WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

“There is a Sophie in all of you.” Commencement June 2012

Be courageous, speakers told the Class of 2012 during the 171st Commencement. “It’s going to take courage for you to maintain the kind of spirit you have shown here,” said Head of School Bob Hill. Commencement speaker, Joanna Lau P’13 told the story of her mother Sophie, who at 24, was forced to leave her husband, and with her four children in tow, flee a war-torn country for an unknown future. “There is a Sophie in each of you,” Lau said. “Go forth with courage in your next chapter. Have courage to face challenges and unknowns in your life. The courage that tests your limits, your character, and your ability to overcome fear and despair.”

Katie Cavanaugh, was the White Blazer award winner.

from left to right Adrian Mendoza, senior class president and Archibald V. Galbraith Prize recipient and Nichole Palmero.

Hansen Yang, valedictorian.

Former President of the Board of Trustees Fred Allardyce ’59 stands with Commencement Speaker Joanna Lau P’13.

from left to right Kathryn Tomaselli, Zoe Tam


c a m p u s n e w s  | 


The Reed Campus Center has long been known for a place of classical, jazz, and a cappella, but dubstep, acid jazz, or K-pop? Those are just a few of the new sounds students can expect once a Reed classroom is transformed into a new Digital Music Lab. “This new facility will have a tremendous impact on our music program,” Ben Demerath, Fine and Performing Arts Department head said. “Students will explore projects ranging from keyboard skills and ear training to writing their own arrangements.” Students will be able to create original pieces, he said, as well as record, mix, and master music using eight new iMacs—with extra memory and music-specific software—and a wall-mounted touch screen. To encourage collaboration, the lab will feature video conferencing equipment and a laptop that students can take to their rooms or other spaces across campus. All of the music that students create will then be stored on a dedicated server. Demerath said the Digital Music Lab was made possible through an anonymous gift, by a donor who saw an opportunity to help the Fine and Performing Arts Department expand into a new area. By combining music theory, composition, engineering, and production, Demerath said the lab will help students innovate in new, modern ways—following in the footsteps of such alumni as Pierce Freelon ’02 of the Beat Making Lab at UNC Chapel Hill and DJ Steve Porter ’97.

“We are thrilled to have this wonderful new resource available to our musicians!” —Ben Demerath


c a m p u s n e w s  | 

sports review

Spring Team HIGHLIGHTS The Williston Northampton School Wildcats finished the spring season with strong performances and a tremendous array of talent. BASEBALL (9-5) The varsity baseball team, led by coaches Matt Sawyer and Kevin Kudla, had another very successful season. The team had a comefrom-behind win over Wilbraham & Monson, held on for a 5-4 win against Cheshire, and beat Pomfret decisively 18-2. They clinched a playoff berth for the sixth consecutive year and, at the plate, hit a record 18 home runs. Jay Sylvia ’12 led the team with five, followed by Brandon Diaz ’12 with four. Mike Grassi ’12 led the team with 19 RBIs. Senior Chad Adams hit .542 and led the team in hitting for the third consecutive year, while sophomore Erik Ostberg had an on base percentage of .600.

BOYS TRACK AND FIELD (4-6) GIRLS TRACK AND FIELD (5-5) Highlights of the boys’ season included dual victories over Vermont, Kingswood, and Wilbraham & Monson. At the New England championships, the team finished sixth out of 12 schools. Senior Joey Holleran won the javelin with a throw of 157’2” and senior sprinter Danny Rowe had a photo-finish win in the 100-meter dash and tied the school record, set by Sidney Baptista ’05 in 2005 with a 22.70 time in the 200. The 4 x 100 relay team of Rowe, Sebastian Rivera, James Ward, and DonQuale Williams came in fourth at 44.44 (2/100ths of a second short of setting a new school record). At the New England championships, the girls finished in seventh place. Senior Rachel Fescher had a fifth-place finish in the 100-meter hurdles and freshman Gabby Thomas 12 THE WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

brought home two New England championships and won the long jump with a school record of 17’7.25.”

four other schools. Senior Bridget Instrum ended her illustrious lacrosse career as an All-American and the school’s all-time leading scorer with 233 career goals.

GIRLS LACROSSE (13-1) With coaches Jen Fulcher and Kathy Noble, the varsity girls lacrosse team enjoyed another terrific season; an overtime loss to Berkshire was their only defeat. The team scored 205 goals during the season, averaging over 15 per game and giving up just over four goals a game. Williston Northampton finished second out of the 95 schools in the NEPSAC—the highest ranking ever. At the Central New England Tournament, the girls dominated the

BOYS LACROSSE (7-9) The boys varsity lacrosse team, led by coaches Andrew Syfu and Chris Dietrich, played a tough schedule–including new Division 1 opponents Westminster and Taft. The team had an exciting 9-8 overtime victory over rival Suffield, an 11-7 win at Kingswood, and a thrilling 13-12 victory over Loomis at home (the first defeat of Loomis in 27 years). The boys’ strong performance in Division II

their season. Highlights included a 10-0, one-hit shutout victory over Berkshire, exciting victories over Pomfret, Choate, and NMH, and a decisive win on Senior Day over Stoneleigh Burnham. At the plate, the team collectively hit .371 with 35 extra base hits, including seven home runs.

BOYS GOLF (11-7) Coach Mike Fay’s varsity boys golf team had wins over Deerfield and Wilbraham, where captains Dan Bridge and Eric Yarrows shot 37 and 38, respectively, to secure the victory. At the season-ending Kingswood Invitational Tournament, Williston Northampton’s top five golfers earned sixth place out of 23 teams.

GIRLS GOLF (11-2-1) The girls varsity golf team was led once again by coaches Ann Pickrell and Katie Fay and, this year, had the best record in the 10-year history of the program. Highlights included multiple wins over Hotchkiss, Loomis, and Miss Porter’s, and single victories over Choate, Westover, and Ethel Walker. At the NEPSAC championships, the girls finished fourth with over 100 golfers competing.

P H O TO GR AP H S: B E TS Y L E WI S ’1 2


qualified them for the Western NE Division II tournament where they lost to top-seeded Millbrook. The team was led in scoring by postgrad Chris Norberg, juniors Jack Shumway and Griffin Foley, and sophomore Phil Angelo.

GIRLS TENNIS (3-8) The most exciting match of the season was at Pomfret, where the girls, led by coach Neile Golding ’04, won four tie-breakers to win 4-3. At the Suffield Tournament, the doubles team of seniors Ali O’Connor and Sasha Gluzman won three matches to advance to the finals before losing a tough tiebreaker to NMH.

BOYS TENNIS (2-10) With coach Charlotte Wilinsky ’07 at the helm, the boys varsity tennis team competed valiantly all season against a very challenging schedule. The team finished by winning two of its last three matches. The boys beat local rival Wilbraham & Monson 5-2 in a thrilling match that came down to the final games.

SOFTBALL (8-4) Girls varsity softball enjoyed a terrific season under coaches Molly Ward ’82, P’17 and Tim Cheney, competing in the Class A Western New England Prep League, including an eight-game win streak during the heart of

Led by coaches Bill Berghoff and Emily McDowell, the girls water polo program demonstrated tremendous improvement with late season games against tournament-bound Deerfield and Hopkins. The girls celebrated Senior Day with a decisive win over Hotchkiss and a second place finish in the end-ofseason tournament.

CREW The team competed successfully at a number of regattas with Hamp Crew, including the Cape Cod Invitational, where the novice girls won gold in the four, and the Lowell Invitational, where the novice girls again won gold in the four and the varsity boys finished third in the quad. At the Northeast District Championships, the novice girls were third. The varsity boys 1 and 4 each made the finals, but were just shy of qualifying for the nationals. FALL 2012 BULLETIN 13

writers' workshop

Jennifer duBois ’02 speaks to guests in the Dodge Room.

INSPIRING YOUNG WRITERS The Writers' Workshop Series featured a debut novelist and a literary heavyweight. 14 THE WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

For the past 15 years, the Writers’ Workshop Series has been an annual showcase of literary talent, drawing such renowned authors as Arthur Golden, Tracy Kidder P’92, and Richard Russo. This year was marked by a return to Williston of two familiar faces—one an author in her acclaimed debut, and the other a dame of literature with 17 novels to her name. Jennifer duBois ’02, author of A Partial History of Lost Causes, was the first alumna to return as a guest lecturer in the series. On October 16, duBois visited campus to talk about her first novel, published in March by The Dial Press. A Partial History follows Irina, recently diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, as she travels to Russia in search of chess prodigy Aleksandr Bezetov. Before his demise from the same disease, Irina’s father sent a letter asking Bezetov: How does one proceed in a lost cause? “We all look to our lives for inspiration in our fiction writing, but I think we can get in trouble sometimes when we see our lives as parameters instead of possibilities,” said duBois. “In my case, my father had Alzheimer’s disease when


c a m p u s n e w s  | 

Anita Shreve P’06, ’07 teaches a class of students.

I was growing up…So that’s where a lot of Irina’s questions about cognitive and personal identity…come from,” she said.

CREATING (AND ENDING) A UNIVERSE Less than a week later, Anita Shreve P’06, ’07 came to campus to speak about her first novel, Eden Close, and her most recent one, the tentatively-titled After All. Shreve has written 17 novels—including The Weight of Water and The Pilot’s Wife—and has received the PEN/L. L. Winship Award and the New England Book Award for fiction. Her talk was an insightful, often amusing, look at the life of a writer. “The thing to me that’s so important is the actual pleasure of writing,” she said. “You are creating a universe that takes you out of your normal universe. It’s a fabulous place to be.” Shreve, a parent of two Williston Northampton graduates, spoke about her passion for writing, about the capricious movie-making industry in Hollywood, and about the ups and downs of getting a book published. “You have control over a lot,” she said, “But you don’t have control over everything.” Each time Shreve turned in a manuscript—her latest, a story of a WWI nurse suffering from shell shock—she also had to turn over control of such details as the title and the book jacket. The Pilot’s Wife, for example, had initially been entitled Perpetual Betrayals. “How do you know when a book is complete?” asked one of the audience members. “You just know,” Shreve said. “There is no more universe after that book ends. That’s it.”

Renowned author of the Knuffle Bunny children’s series, Mo Willems, spoke on Thursday, November 1. Mount Holyoke College Mellon Professor of English and acting dean of the faculty, Christopher Benfey, concluded the 15th annual Writers' Workshop Series on Thursday, November 8.





The hardest thing to do well.


The English 9 teachers could have coasted through fall, relying on material that they could recite blindfolded. But easy-out teaching just isn’t the Williston Northampton way. They needed a new book. Two weeks before classes began, the English teachers sequestered themselves to discuss their choice, The Odyssey. This epic tale of homecoming, heroism, and adventure had just what they were looking for: challenge. “Any time the teacher gets bored or stale, it’s going to be bad for the student,” said English teacher Greg Tuleja. “It’s good to be doing something new. I’m going to have to raise my game.” ­ FALL 2012 BULLETIN 17

And that’s what it means to teach at Williston Northampton–taking risks, honing the craft, and changing with the times–even when it means re-introducing an ancient tome. This approach is what sets good teachers apart from the great, what propels a student’s experience from expected to outstanding, and what graduates individuals who consistently do exceptional work in the world. “One of the hardest things to do well is to teach,” said Dean of Faculty Peter Valine. “I’ve been teaching for 30 years and there’s still so much I need to do to improve my craft.” Call it the “trickle-down-theory” of education: when teachers regularly challenge themselves, they inevitably raise the bar for their students. Timi Onafowokan ’11, now at Harvard, recalls how his World Civilization teacher wouldn’t accept just average papers. “He would say, ‘Timi, this is a good paper and a lot of other teachers would give you an ‘A’, but I know you can do better,’” Onafowokan said. From math to science to geography, the thread that connects every teacher is the persistent search to do it better, and get the best from their students. In essence, it’s the pursuit of greatness. But what exactly makes a great teacher? What has a lasting impact, so that years after graduation a student sends a warm thought of gratitude toward the school? And if teaching is, as Valine said, the hardest thing to do well, why do it?

feeling that [Williston teachers] really know you,” Onafowokan said. “You can tell when the teacher cares about you not just as a student, but as a person, as a human being.” When senior Devon Greenwood wrote a paper in her tenth grade English class about a struggle in her personal life, her teacher Harris Thompson took extra time to talk with her every day after class. “Yeah, he graded my paper, but he did so much more for me,” she said. Because Williston Northampton teachers are also coaches, advisors, and dorm heads, they have a unique ability to establish meaningful relationships, and get to know and understand how a student ticks in different environments. Tuleja, whose office walls are covered with photos of his winning girls cross-country team, wants his students and runners to feel like he is fully present. “To me it’s all based on connecting with the kids, and trying to convey to them I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing than talking to them about Romeo and Juliet or watching them run up hills.” Jen Fulcher, director of the Middle School, said a great teacher’s excitement is contagious. And laughing in the classroom doesn’t hurt, either. “I have known very few excellent teachers who don’t have a great sense of humor – funny can be key.”


When Jennifer duBois ’02 was the managing editor for The Willistonian, she made a tough call to publish a vitriolic letter-to-the-editor. In the ensuing days, duBois felt the outrage on campus, but she didn’t

One common theme among master teachers is the ability to cultivate a sense of connection that extends beyond the classroom. “You get a


 o me it’s all based T on connecting with the kids, and trying to convey to them I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing than talking to them about Romeo and Juliet or watching them run up hills” —Greg Tuleja


stand alone. Peter Gunn, the newspaper’s advisor, stood with her. “I think the most impressive thing he did as an educator at the time was to take us seriously,” she said. “He seemed to believe in the sincerity of our values, and he let us make our own decisions and accept the consequences for them; he pushed us to think hard about free speech and its costs, but he never made us feel like these questions were irrelevant because it was a high school newspaper.” Gunn, a history teacher at Williston since 1985, said his mentor teachers taught him to treat young people with respect. “A great teacher puts the student at the center of the learning experience without abdicating their responsibility to inform and inspire,” Gunn said. DuBois, who recently published her debut novel A Partial History of Lost Causes, returned to campus this fall to speak at the Writers’ Workshop Series. She said her experience at Williston impacted not only her profession, but also informed her values and habits. “Good teaching can inculcate habits of mind in a student that he or she might have for a lifetime,” she said. “A really powerful teacher can actually help a child become a more engaged or alert or persistent adult.” Thanks to Gunn, she still subscribes to The Economist. “They really should be giving him a commission on their sales revenues,” she said. And she gives kudos to her English teacher Lisa Levchuk for, in part, being “so funny and awesome that she made adulthood look sort of okay.”

PUT M E IN , COA CH Sometimes the definition of a great teacher and coach is someone who can see potential, and then impart the trust to enact on it. Katie Cavanaugh ’12 transferred to Williston her junior year because she wanted to get serious about playing lacrosse. She’d been comfortably dominating at mid-field for years, but Coach Fulcher had a vision for Cavanaugh: defense. Cavanaugh said Fulcher quickly built trust between them, and made it possible for her to leap to a new position. “Then I discovered that I was actually pretty good at it,” Cavanaugh said. “She saw it in me.” “[Great teachers] create an atmosphere where every student feels safe to take chances and reach beyond what they thought they were capable of,” Fulcher said. Cavanaugh is currently playing defense at Williams College. “I am very proud of the effort she put in to be the best that she could be back there,” Fulcher said.


B ET T E R THA N EVER When Tuleja began teaching at Williston in 1983, he was thrown into a classroom with the echoes of “Good luck!” ringing in his ears. And Valine said it took several years before he had a formal review after he began teaching in 1998. “It was very much sink or swim back then,” Tuleja said. “We’re a lot better than that now.” Under the direction of Valine and Head of School Robert Hill, Williston Northampton has been building a stronger foundation to provide more observation, feedback, and support for faculty. They understand that part of being a great teacher is the culture of the school itself. Among the changes are a new class schedule that gives every department a common free period to have formal and informal meetings, and a professional development plan that offers more peer review–as

in, teachers observing each other in the classroom. Valine said this collaboration is powerful, providing insight and inspiration for teachers. Each department is undergoing a curriculum review over the next few years. The Language Department was the first to undergo such a review. “In the rapidly changing educational landscape in which we work, our ability to review, reflect, and revise our approaches is critical to keeping programs current, relevant, and effective,” Hill said in an opening statement of the report.

BREAKIN G T HRO UGH T HE N OISE It isn’t just the institutional support that has changed over time. The nature of teaching has evolved, and being a great teacher requires nimbleness. The biggest challenge are screens, such as iPhones, iPads, and laptops. You only have to spend fifteen minutes with a teenager to witness a new generation of plugged-in, text-obsessed, Facebookposting kids. English teacher Sarah Sawyer wants to instill the idea that “literature is one of life’s delights.” And at the same time, she’s trying to convince students to turn down the music and turn off their phones when they’re reading. It’s no easy task. “If you are reading a Brontë novel, you can’t read it with your phone dinging and your computer going off and your headphones in,” Sawyer said. “You need to read it in the dark with a candle. Read it like it’s the only thing you have.”

O NC E A T EAC HER, ALWAYS A TE ACH E R Devon Greenwood is already preparing for graduation in the spring, but not because she’s ready to walk out Williston’s gates. She’s gearing up to say goodbye to the people she’ll miss the most: her teachers. “I don’t think I will find the same types of teachers anywhere else,” Greenwood said. And here comes the answer to the “Why teach?” question. “We’re an important part of their lives, and that’s an awesome feeling,” Tuleja said. When Tuleja witnessed his first Williston graduation in 1984, he was moved to see so many students lined up in the Quad “crying because they weren’t going to see their chemistry teacher again.” Whether remembering a math equation or recalling a certain display of kindness, students just never forget their teachers. “Once you close that classroom door and you’re standing there, you’ve got to deliver the goods every day,” Tuleja said. Sheila Fisher ’72, a professor at Trinity College, returned to campus last January to deliver a speech to the Cum Laude Society. She recalled the teachers she had never forgotten, referring to them as “giants on the earth in those days.” Yet these giants on campus, these great teachers then and now, leave invisible footprints–legacies quietly imparted on how a student competes in sports, or becomes a life-long reader, or holds open a door for the person behind them, so that people like Fisher look back years later a little in awe. Simply put, every year, a teacher’s greatest work walks out of Williston, and into the world. “I’m proud because the work speaks for itself,” Gunn said. “When I leave Williston, I will be done because all my work will be gone.” ■ FALL 2012 BULLETIN 19



a coach’s


I graduated from The Williston Northampton School and, though much life has been lived, my recollections remain lucid and unchanged. Memories of those teenage years seem to take on a sacred world of their own. The emotions are intensely visceral, meaningful, and so very alive. Ironically, we often expect little from that era to really change. Not the people, nor their physical appearance. Not their voices, nor their personalities. But we all do. We all change. The year was 1980. The school’s academic excellence, warmth of student body, and caring nature of its educators made Williston Northampton, as today, a genuinely special place to learn. Bob Blanchette, Karen O’Neil, Bob St. George, Ellis Baker, Cathleen Robinson, Steve Siebolt, Ann Vanderburgh, and Barry Moser were far more than school officials and academics doing their jobs. They were individuals committed to helping all students fulfill their potential. I recall the student procession that formed immediately after the graduation ceremony as if it were yesterday. We walked by the vast line of teachers and administrators with tears in our eyes. So many personalities who

impacted our lives were now saying their final good-byes. Leaving that close-knit family was a far more trying experience than anticipated. The Williston Northampton experience was truly enchanting. It’s almost as if the school beckoned to its student body: the more you give of yourself, the more I’ll give back to you. Such was the compelling, interdependent relationship that existed. Williston prided itself on being a wellrounded school that strived to foster healthy social relationships. It really is one of its defining strengths. No surprise then that sport played such a major role in achieving that objective. In the fall, winter, and spring, students committed themselves to join a team, be it at the club or competitive level. There was certainly no dearth of gifted athletes in our class. One of those talented and tough competitors was my senior year roommate, Bubba Sandford. He and I were sitting in Ford Hall one winter’s day watching the American hockey team defeat the USSR in the celebrated battle at the Olympic Games, the “Miracle on Ice,” in Lake Placid. With the hockey calendar now winding down, we were excited that spring sports were soon to follow, which meant


lacrosse season was fast approaching. And the Wildcat’s 1980 season was to be one for the record books. To date, it stands as the most successful boys lacrosse squad in the school’s illustrious athletic history. To enter those books, though, we were first going to require an orchestrator of the highest caliber, one whom we would call coach. Think for a moment of the type of person you would want coaching a child. What tried and true measures would best demonstrate the candidate’s abilities? How would you validate their authenticity? What character traits would be most desirable? Integrity. Dignity. Calm under fire. A visionary. An individual of few words but bountiful in actions. In addition to the above, our coach would clearly need to be a versatile leader, both savvy enough to manage our ultra competitive, highly driven group of 16- to 18-year-olds and skilled enough to fill the shoes of the prior year’s coach. Needless to say, a tall order for anyone. My teammates and I were blessed to have an unassuming young man of 25 who was an accomplished Division I defenseman from the University of Massachusetts and a


precocious master of human relations. We were inspired by his “speak softly and carry a big stick” demeanor as he calmly mentored us with his prized leather-netted Canadian wooden lacrosse stick in hand. Affectionately known by his initials TK, Tom Keenan represented everything that was good about sport. In the fast-moving and hard-hitting sport of lacrosse, his humility and even keel were character traits that made playing for him a privilege. He commanded respect by speaking sparingly, demarcating precisely what was expected of each player, and demanding that we played like a tight, cohesive band of brothers. “Most young coaches want to put their stamp on a program changing everything around and letting everyone know who’s in charge,” Bubba Sandford so aptly put it. “But TK was so sure of himself he did neither. Yet everyone knew he was in charge and looked up to him as head coach,” Sandford added. He masterfully straddled a thin line of being one of the boys, befriending us, while never yielding an inch of authority nor diminishing his stature. Maynard, Sandford, Dillard,

Lord, Smith, McNabb, Maferra, Pols, Lucier, Nye, Potasky, Francis, Kay and the rest of our squad were enamored with TK and the selfconfidence he instilled. Co-captain and All-New England standout defenseman Ben Maynard reflected, “Through an occasional word or pat on the back, TK helped me focus on playing and not worrying about what I couldn’t control.” Tom had an intense passion for the game, for its Native American roots, and for the sheer finesse involved when played at an elite level. He instilled in each player the deep-seated belief that excellence was always achievable. “TK had this exceptional ability to communicate with any personality type, while keeping a team of strong individuals unified and focused on achieving goals together,” reflected Goren Dillard, a star midfielder. He could tolerate virtually anything but an overinflated ego and lack of sportsmanship. For him it would ultimately boil down to winning as a collective entity or failing due to individual selfishness. Although it may have taken a little nurturing, we all caught on quickly. For the duration of the

season, self-centered play never factored into the equation. There were moments, though, that the grind of practice got the better of us. During a particular afternoon’s training, Mark McNabb, one of our significant goal scorers, and I were getting far too physical. Words were exchanged. Tension escalated. To most of the players, the younger ones in particular, it wasn’t a pretty scene. Unfortunately, we put TK into a seemingly no-win position. Coach blew his whistle and brought the scrimmage to a screeching halt. After a brief – uncharacteristic reprimand, he told us to remove our lacrosse gloves. We did as instructed. TK then informed us to stop wasting everyone’s time, to get it over with already and settle it like men. We both looked at each other in semi-disbelief, wondering what coach was actually thinking. Was he serious? Mark and I laughed, shook hands, and resumed our workout, albeit feeling a tad bit more than foolish. A few days later I marveled at just how wise coach was. His inner sense told him that the skirmish would end right then and there. Somehow TK keenly understood that we’d both grasp the absurdity of it all. Vinny LoBello '73, Tom’s classmate, teammate, and roommate at Williston; his classmate and teammate at UMass ('77), was a gifted head coach during my junior year. He was an elite collegiate attackman whose father–an inductee into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame often refereed our games. Vinny’s unique relationship with TK spanned close to 40 years. They played collegiate lacrosse together on one of the highest ranked teams in the nation. Not only was he the one to introduce TK to the sport of lacrosse while in high school, but years later he encouraged him to be head coach. “I remember when we were students at Williston and I asked him what sport he played in the spring,” reflected LoBello. “He said he didn’t have one as he was not a baseball player. And that statement cemented our everlasting friendship. Tom rapidly became a ‘quietly tough’ lax player, not flashy,

just a solid defenseman who without a doubt made me a far better player,” he said. As head coach, TK was a cool and reserved strategist, calmly savoring victory after victory. One win, however, stood out above all the rest. In a thrilling 12-11 overtime triumph we defeated the local public school state champions Longmeadow. It was the first time, and last, in the school’s illustrious history that Williston defeated this perennial power. And

“The more you give of yourself, the more Williston gives back to you. Such was the compelling interdependent relationship that existed.” it came during our final game of the year. One could not have scripted a more picture-perfect ending to our championship season. The memories remain so colorful. I remember how Bubba, an All-American attackman, decisively took control of the offense within the first minute of overtime. He was waiting for that opportune moment to strike, and strike he did. From behind the goal he fed a precision pass to junior wunderkind Todd Potasky who instantly flicked the ball across the shoulder of the opposing goalie. Game over. The boys of Williston were crowned champions. What happened next was more than slightly surreal. TK erupted. He darted from the sideline to the center of the field in a frenzied state, shouting unintelligible words of bliss. He was racing forward in improbable near-360-degree leaps only to find himself quickly submerged under a mound of players who congratulated him for what seemed like an eternity. The euphoria was indescribable. That unadulterated joy that he exuded stands out as one of the highlights of my youth. It was the fitting way to end our season with TK–a record of 14-2–boasting 12 straight victories, including wins over the stellar squads of Deerfield and Avon Old Farms.

To this day if you speak with any player on our team about that moment, they’ll break into a wide smile and bask in those same inexplicable feelings, which bespeak, “What an amazing year–we really did it!” There simply is no statute of limitations on such feel-good boyhood achievements. Bubba and I occasionally reminisce about that year at Williston, proudly triggering those identical emotions. Three decades and going strong, those memories will continue to be cherished for a lifetime. But what does one do when memory and present-day reality can’t be reconciled? You see, Coach Tom Keenan–our beloved TK– died under tragic circumstances this past winter at the age of 57. I last saw him when he was 25 and I was 17. I gather that if we had both been walking down the same street we’d unlikely have recognized one another. Now more than ever before, all those clichés we heard as kids about how fast life passes us by seem so very real. LoBello recently shared with me his emotions at the passing of his friend, “I love Tommy. He had a huge heart, was always there for me, and ended almost every sentence with a smile.” TK will forever endure in my memory as that wise, sensitive, nurturing mentor who dramatically influenced the course of my life and all of those with whom I was blessed to play. My teammates and I are truly indebted to Williston for every minute we spent with such a special human being. ■


Dick Gregory watching as the faculty chair established in his honor is awarded to Academic Dean Gregory Tuleja at this year's Convocation.





hen Richard C. Gregory first arrived at Williston Academy, the now fully-grown maples on campus were saplings. So was he, in a manner of speaking. He was 29, and had already completed six years of English and drama at Yale, and served in Guam with the Navy, but he looked 18—just like the boys he was suddenly in charge of in the dorms and classrooms. Some 50 years later, Gregory sat down in the Dodge Room, under a plaque bearing his name. This is the same acoustically rich, wood-paneled room where he so fondly remembers rehearsing with the a cappella groups he started, the Caterwaulers and the Widdigers. Eight years after his retirement from The Williston Northampton School, Gregory’s voice filled the room once again, this time with a chat about art, life, and teaching. “When I came to Williston in 1961, I expected to spend a year before going on to some other school because Williston actually had no reputation, good or bad,” Gregory said. “But once I met a few people here I realized it was a place I’d like to spend my life. I thought there were things I could do that the school needed.” Those things were many, indeed. Born in Providence in 1932, Gregory attended Episcopal choir schools, where he learned to sing and compose. At Choate—and then at Yale— he studied directing and was a famed Whiffenpoof. (The Whiffenpoofs, or “Whiffs” are renowned, not only for their musical talent, but for being the longest running collegiate a cappella group in the world.) While serving in the military, Gregory also wrote an opera. With this wealth of musical experience, he took on Williston as his next challenge. “Probably the most significant thing I did here in my years, aside from running Ford Hall for 25 years, was to found the Fine Arts Department,” Gregory said. “The headmaster, Phillips Stevens, asked me to start an academic department in the early ’70s. It’s the first such program that we know of in any

prep school in America. Now practically every prep school and every high school in America has one—but we were probably the first. We had very, very fine people.” At Williston, Gregory became the successor of Henry Teller, the head of the music department at the time and the father of current archivist Richard Teller ’70. To craft a new department, he worked closely with art teacher Barry Moser and theater director Ellis Baker. Gregory also credits Headmaster Phillips Stevens, “a tall, brawny, deep-voiced leader of men” and Associate Headmaster Karen O’Neill as making a big difference in helping usher the school into a new era of music. At the time, the area colleges would send students to see the theatrical shows at Williston. Recalling the first show he directed, “Cyrano de Bergerac,” Gregory said he remembered thinking that the last performance would be sparsely attended. “A whole lot of people came from the University of Massachusetts because their professor had told them they’d better see it because they’d never see this “Cyrano de Bergerac” again,” he said. “I had 60 people on stage at one time…that was starting big and we’ve been big ever since.”

“We don’t always teach you how to do it, though we teach you to dance and sing and play the piano.” Excellent work. High standards. That’s what he thinks a “giant” of teaching engenders in students. Anyone who, like Gregory, wears so many hats over 40 years is a tall figure: he taught English; created sets, designed, and even sewed costumes—fabulous hats included—for theater productions; directed plays; guided all those boys in the dorm; formed the Caterwaulers, Widdigers, and the Glee Club; directed the Teller Choir; composed operas and chamber music; arranged choral music. And started the Fine Arts Department. He even


led tours of the campus and worked in the Admission Office. He stopped just shy of mowing the vast lawns by himself. But the Fine Arts Department was Gregory’s pride and joy, his opportunity to help students “appreciate what the human spirit can do.” “We don’t always teach you how to do it, though we teach you to dance and sing and play the piano,” Gregory said. “I think one of the great joys we’ve all had in the fine arts is to discover talent that’s nascent, that hasn’t shown itself before.” To encourage students to reach beyond what they thought they were capable of, Gregory combed the dining halls and playing fields, personally inviting potential singers or actors to tryouts, even if they themselves didn’t think they had the right stuff. Many football captains and hockey players found themselves equally at home in the Dodge Room or the theater—thanks to Gregory. Both teaching styles and students changed a good bit during his tenure, but Gregory kept pace. One key to his success: he believed in students’ potential. “Over the years, especially as the school became co-ed, I and our lucky other teachers learned to treat people as adults-

in-the-making, not just intelligent children,” Gregory said. “I think in some ways the secondary school years are the most teachable because the kids are open to ideas. Almost all students who come to secondary school are intelligent enough to take in difficult concepts yet are still receptive—and that’s why I never thought of teaching in college.” Like any working artist, however, Gregory does occasionally feel dismay over what might have been, noting that he could have been more musically productive or he could have sold more music and directed more plays. At this moment, music director and teacher Ben Demerath pops into the Dodge Room and reminds Gregory that he has written a lot of music, and has given immeasurable gifts to this community. “I’ve given art to a lot of people, both of us have…and they’ve turned into thousands now,” Gregory agrees, leaning forward in his chair. He may have retired from teaching, but even Gregory knows that he’s still a familiar part of campus— and will continue to be hailed by each new class in the fall. “So many of the kids, I don’t even know their faces, know who I am,” Gregory says, adding with a chuckle, “I’m becoming sort of a fixture here.” ■

“Mr. Gregory is the Renaissance man of the arts at Williston, donning every hat the theatre department had to offer, literally.” — Ellis Baker but on Friday, September 14, it meant a great deal more to an esteemed member of The Williston Northampton School community. The Richard C. Gregory Faculty Chair was established and mainly funded by Chuck Tauck ’72 and Jack G. Tatelman ’73. The chair was presented to Gregory at a reception just prior to the 172nd Convocation, where it would be awarded to English teacher Greg Tuleja. Tauck, a former president of the Board of Trustees, said alumni were constantly asking after Gregory, and reflecting on his influence on their time at Williston, and that was where the idea for the chair came from. A faculty member from 1961 to 2004, Gregory was a cornerstone in Williston Northampton’s Fine Arts Department. “We had a long run together,” said long-time colleague and former faculty member Ellis Baker. Calling Gregory, “the Renaissance man of the arts at Williston,” Baker recollected that Gregory had donned every hat the theatre department had to offer, literally. “He loved designing period hats,” said Mr. Baker, “and we always argued because they were so good that we couldn’t see the faces for the shadows.” 26 THE WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL



Sammy, my Sammy, My heart yearns for thee, Yearns for your campus and your old elm tree, Long may we cherish in years yet to come, Long may we cherish Williston.

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Bulletin Fall 2012  

This is the fall 2012 issue of Bulletin, The Williston Northampton School's bi-annual alumni magazine.