Finding Her Voice
Nina Renkert vividly remembers her first show at the Williston Theatre, sitting in the audience with her family for the school production of As You Like It. Her sister, Sara, was touring Williston and would later enroll, graduating in 2018. Nina was a seventh grader at Berkshire Country Day School, where her father taught, and while she had acted in a few school plays, she did not see herself as a theater person. That was about to change.
“I fell in love with that program,” she recalls. “It was just incredible to see a bunch of students so committed to something.”
When it came time for Nina to decide on her own secondary school, Williston drew her back, and it has turned out to be “the perfect choice,” she says. Now a senior and a multi-year recipient of the Northampton School for Girls Class of 1944 Scholarship, she is no longer content to simply watch from the audience, but instead has grown to love the spotlight. “I’ve been in every single show since my freshman year,” she notes, “which I’m very fortunate and proud to say.”
Her transformation through the performing and visual arts continues to have a deep impact on her life, she says. “When I first came, I was super shy and tentative,” she explains. “I’ve just grown so much more comfortable with myself as a person. That confidence that I’ve been given through this school has been so helpful.”
Prior to her senior year, Nina completed a month-long residency at the Boston University Summer Theater Institute, joining some 65 other theater students from around the world to further her acting skills and stagecraft knowledge. “It was one of the best experiences of my life,” she says. “I met so many incredible people. And I know I wouldn’t have had the chance to go there without the experiences I’ve had at Williston.”
In addition to her theater work, Nina is a skilled visual artist. Under the Williston Scholars program, she will be completing independent studies in both the visual and performing arts this year. She also founded the Girls Support Girls Club (focused on female empowerment), serves as a proctor in Memorial Hall West and as a campus tour guide, strums in the Ukulele Club, and plays Ultimate Frisbee, a sport she discovered and tried for the first time at Williston.
She plans to continue her studies and art at college next year, and has recently been thinking about focusing on drama therapy—“using theatrical techniques to free the natural voice within,” she explains—inspired by the techniques she learned in Boston this past summer. And though she will have moved on from Williston, she hopes that her Girls Support Girls Club will continue its work. “I want to give back to this school,” she explains, “because it’s given me so much.”