A Williston Symphony


This address was given by Class President Nat Markey ’20 at Williston’s 179th Convocation. 

Thank you, Mr. Hill

Good evening, everyone. If this is your first convocation, welcome to Williston. Seasoned veterans, welcome back. And to the great class of 2020: get ready for senior year!

As you’ve all heard, this year marks Williston’s 179th convocation. It’s also the 95th anniversary of the Northampton School for Girls. All of which adds up to a lot of speeches to sit through. It’s my sixth convocation, and people have said it before, but it’s true: As a little 7th grader, I could not have pictured myself standing all the way up here. Even if I had been on stage then, I wouldn’t have been up here – more like here [place hand near chest]

I remember being in Middle School, sitting in the audience on this very occasion, and hearing Nate Gordon, the student body president at the time, tell a story about how, when he was in seventh grade, an upper-schooler complimented his shoes, sending Nate’s confidence through the roof. The anecdote was especially meaningful to me because a year before, when I was in seventh grade, Nate had complimented my shoes at cross country practice, and the attention from such a superhuman figure made me feel like I belonged here.  (By the way, those shoes were a women’s 8 because the men’s shoes at the running store were massive on me).

But this speech isn’t about shoes, or about long-gone seniors– it’s about our growth, now, while we move through this great school. As extraordinary as our academic experience here is, our human interactions outside the classroom are just as influential. Personally, I may have physically grown ten inches since seventh grade, but I think I’ve grown even more mentally and emotionally – like, 20 mind-inches, at least. A big part of the credit for that growth goes to the wonderful people I’ve encountered here.

At Williston, we have a unique opportunity to get to know and learn from all kinds of people. My 9th grade year, I made the acquaintance of a kid named Steven Wang. My first impression was “Steven seems like a nice guy,” and then, “Wow, Steven is really smart. You might even say he’s dumb smart.” But it wasn’t until 10th grade, when I saw him perform at the Winter Warmer concert, that I learned he was also insanely talented on the guitar. That same year, I met another classmate who could absolutely shred – Cam Lawrence. Steven, Cam, and I all grew up in different towns, in different states, and, in Steven’s case, on a different continent. Had we all gone to our local high schools, I never would have experienced their talents. Steven and Cam play very different styles of guitar, and we benefit from hearing both

I think this is a great metaphor for our community. Imagine each of us is a different musical instrument. Some of us are guitars, some cellos, some keyboards, some woodwinds, and so on. I actually picture myself as a didgeridoo. We all sound different, bringing diverse experiences, perspectives, and personalities, but we each contribute a beautiful, valuable voice. An orchestra composed of only vuvuzelas wouldn’t sound nearly as interesting or vibrant. In non-musical terms, our diversity is not an obstacle to community; it is our strength!

We are not 9th graders and 12th graders, international and domestic, boarding and day, football players and actors, or even Tandem and Dunkin – we are Williston. Which means we are all these things, and so much more, united. When Dylan breaks a million water polo records, that is Williston. When Peter and Jack help make a full-on robotic arm, that is Williston. When everyone sings their hearts out in the musical, when Tucker and Zach absolutely jam at assembly, when Anaya shares a poem in front of everyone, when Poojaa writes a killer Willistonian article, whenever anyone runs a Why Not Speak day workshop, reaches out to someone they don’t know so well, or just goes out of their way to be friendly, that’s Williston. When some new 9th grader contributes some outstanding thing we can’t even predict, that’s Williston, too.

So, fellow Wildcats, let’s make this coming year the most memorable of the 179. Let’s play those instruments, baby. Let’s shred! Whether this is your first year or your sixth, your voice is important. Reach out, get involved, ask questions, join more clubs than you could ever attend, cheer like crazy at a night game, or at a dance concert, paint that lion, ring that bell, spread good vibes! And do it in your own, unique way.

And class of 2020: We’re the leaders of this school now; it’s our time to inspire. So go ahead, compliment a middle schooler. You might just get your name mentioned in a convocation address. And you’ll certainly make Williston just that much stronger.

Thank You.