corinne fogg convocation 2021 williston

Message of 181st Convocation: Reclaim the Joy


On a clear, cool evening, Williston Northampton School officially opened the 2021-22 school year during its 181st Convocation, held on the Main Quadrangle, on September 10, 2021. After an opening welcome from Dean of Students Kathy Noble, Head of School Robert Hill III declared that the theme for the upcoming year would be “Reclaim the Joy.”

New Dean of Faculty and alumna Corinne Fogg ’99 delivering the keynote speech, reflected on the preceding pandemic year and a half, during which she experienced more than her share of major life events: she left her community to start a new job at Williston, her father died, and she became a new mother. “To expand, and I will employ levity here, I went through as many transitions as humanly possible in 2020,” she said. “At this point, I am essentially a great country song.” She described embodying a “liminal” space, not being the person she was, and not yet knowing who she would become.

She continued, “I share my story of this year, of the space I’ve traversed in the middle, to impart what I hope you will glean in this new year and in your time as a member of this community. You will assuredly learn algebra, recite epic poems, master rhetorical analysis and DBQs, make hypotheses, grow in strength and creativity, and come into your own scholarship while here. That said, it is my hope that you will take more from this space, from these people.” Read the full text of her speech. See video of her speech.

Senior Class President Sarah Markey ’22 reminded students of the school’s history and of a legacy of resilience. She spoke about flooding that inundated the former Northampton School for Girls in the 1920s and ’30s, and how students shoveled mud from classrooms and dorms. They also helped local farmers tend to asparagus and potato fields when soldiers were off fighting in World War II. The difficulties of the past 18 months proved, “We’ve got this,” Markey said. “Just like all those earlier students that overcame tough times, we will rally. We are resilient. We are Williston.” Read her full speech. Read the full text of her speech. See video of her speech.

Hill then presented chairs to those in the faculty who have served 25 years, honoring Associate Director of Athletics Melissa Brousseau, Visual and Performing Arts Teacher Edward Hing ’77, and Math Teacher Curt Whipple. Hill also named the recipients of two endowed chairs: English Department Chair Matthew Liebowitz received the Henry M. Zachs ’52 and Judith Zachs Faculty Chair and Science Teacher Ken Choo earned the David H. ’35 and Edward Goodman ’37 Science Chair.

The community then rose to sing a joyful rendition of “O Williston,” also known as the alma mater.

Watch video of the entire ceremony.

See photos of the event.