Bringing the Fun


Caroline Channell ’18 is back on campus—and curating the events that make Williston, well, Williston

Picture this: It’s a Saturday night on campus, and 50 students are on the turf at Sawyer Field playing wiffle ball. There are cheers and laughter, but most of all, there’s community in action. In the background, Caroline Channell ’18 can’t help but grin—after all, this game was her idea. After graduating from Haverford College, Channell joined Williston last September, first as a history intern, and now as the Student Activities Director. And as an alumna herself, she’s more than ready to tackle the job of planning enriching student activities.  We caught up with Channell to talk about crossing the student-faculty divide, her unique perspective on student activities, and what comes next.

What is it like being on the other side of the student-faculty divide?

It has given me a lot of perspective on how much work goes into things that once seemed so effortless. I now have a greater appreciation for the events I fondly remember because I know how much work they took and how much teachers and staff really care about students.

How about being colleagues with people that were your teachers just a few years ago?

It’s really funny. I still call Dean of Students David Koritkoski “Coach K “sometimes, but mostly Dave. No—he’s fully Dave now. My oldest brother [John Channell ’09] is 10 years older than I am and went to Williston, so there are people like Matt Sawyer and Nat Simpson who have known me since I was little. In my family, he’s known as ‘Señor Simpson,’ so to call him Nat feels funny. But those teachers get really mad at me when I don’t call them by their first names! I’m over that hump now, I would say.

What unique perspectives do you think you’re able to bring to this role?

Understanding how busy the kids are is huge. I was a student that was involved in just about anything that you could be involved with. We have a lot of students like that, so knowing that is crucial for even small things like the timing of events. I know that if students get back at 7 p.m. on game day, they can’t really get to an event until 8 p.m. Also, I am familiar with the different casts of characters that come to Williston and the fact that not everyone is the same. So being able to have more diversity in what we offer on the weekends I think is helpful, as is just understanding the importance of the small things—like making sure that we have canoes for Willy Gras.

What’s one favorite thing you’ve been able to do so far?

One of the things that I’m really pumped about is the theme of Willy Gras. Earlier this year, I hid Mario Kart figurines all around campus—and I went all out on the project. I went on ladders and taped figures to the sides of elevators, and the kids really liked it. But that’s just a precursor to Willy Gras, where the Super Mario Brothers theme will continue. There will be a map of campus based on Mario Kart, so I’m getting an inflatable water slide that has a rainbow —that’ll be Rainbow Road. It’s those small things that go a long way and make it extra fun.

You’ll also be teaching C.O.R.E classes in your role—are you looking forward to that?

One of the things that I enjoyed the most [as a history intern teacher] this year was the mentorship that comes through with teaching—for example, working with students on how to study for a test, how to manage stress, and how to build resiliency. The primary goal of Williston’s C.O.R.E. classes is teaching life skills that are outside of the classroom, but are essential to classroom success. So I’m really excited to teach those classes—and also, it will allow me to be in contact with every student on the campus except the juniors. That will make it easier, hopefully, for them to come into my office, and say, ‘Hey Ms. Channell, I have this great idea—can we do this on the weekend?’