Williston Northampton Celebrates 183rd Commencement Ceremony


The Williston Northampton School held its 183rd Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 25, 2024, as the school celebrated the graduation of 95 members of the class of 2024.

Gathered under the big tent on the school’s Main Quad, the graduates and their friends, family members, and classmates heard from Commencement speaker Tommy Reed ’10, and class speaker Soleil Richardson ’24.

Additionally, Head of School Robert W. Hill III imparted his wisdom on the class, weaving together how the toddlers of faculty members can tell us a lot about our adult selves.

Before Hill dove into his analogy, he took a moment to acknowledge a unique characteristic of the class of 2024: They entered high school during the COVID-19 pandemic, and had a hard, but ultimately rewarding journey to graduation day.

“I hope you take to heart the quote by the great 20th-century American poet, T.S. Elliott, when he cautioned us of the pitfall to ‘have the experience but miss the meaning.’ He meant by that, of course, each of us needs to reflect and re-reflect upon our lives, especially those that test our strength or beliefs. You are all wiser and stronger, more resilient and patient, and creative and courageous, than you would have been had you not been through the pandemic’s crucible.”

Richardson used her speech to talk to her classmates about places of learning—and how they aren’t just classrooms. “To us, a classroom is a place of learning. It’s a place where you learn your potential, it’s a place of collaboration. Now I want you all to picture Sawyer Field (I am a dancer, so I am going to try my best): turf, a scoreboard—it’s a place of learning. It’s a place where you hone your potential, it’s a place where you collaborate. The dorm, the art studio, the gym—you could do this with a bunch of different places, but my point is classrooms are going to show up in myriad shapes during your life.”

Reed echoed similar sentiments in his speech. The former U.S. Navy pilot started by discussing his original intention of coming to Williston: To further his hockey career. Very quickly, though, Reed realized that Williston Northampton wasn’t content just producing a hockey player: There was a student-athlete to be molded.

“From the onset, I quickly realized that my time at Williston would not be as transactional as I had envisioned in my simple teenage mind. The teachers, coaches, and staff saw me as more than just a hockey player here for a pit stop. They challenged me to be the best version of myself as a student and, more importantly, as a person.”

As part of the exercises, the school announced the winners of its prestigious senior academic prizes, along with the school’s top athletic awards, which were awarded two days prior. For the athletic awards, the school honors seniors for Sports Leadership, and the top male and female athletes, the George Denman Bowl and the Alumnae Bowl, respectively. Jeremy Dube ’24 and Anna Sawyer ’24 were awarded the Sports Leadership honors, while James Elliott ’24 won the Denman Bowl, and Monique Lyons ’24 and Camille Armaganian ’24 were both awarded the Alumnae Bowl.

The three top honors announced during commencement are the Sarah B. Whitaker “White Blazer” Prize, the Archibald V. Galbraith Prize, and the Valedictory prize.

The White Blazer is awarded to “a senior who has made the greatest contributions to the academic, athletic, and community life of the school while exhibiting exemplary leadership and integrity,” and this year’s recipient was Emily Hamann ’24.

The Galbraith prize is given to “that senior who in academics, athletics, and citizenship is exemplary, representing that which is best in the school,” with this year’s honoree being Jeremy Dube ’24.

Finally, the Valedictory prize is awarded to the first scholar of the class, and is a combination of two historic school awards—the Edmund H. Sawyer Prize that was given for work int he classical curriculum, and the Horatio G. Knight Prize that was given for work int he scientific curriculum. It honors the student “who, by record of performance during the senior year, is judged by the faculty to be pre-eminent in academic achievement.” The class of 2024’s first scholar was Catherine Spence ’24.

Commencement exercises also included the induction of the spring Cum Laude Society honorees. The school inducted eight Cum Laude Society members in the winter, and nine more students were added during Commencement: Elle Christakos, Jeremy Dube, Stella Gordon, Aaron Hammer, Wesley Haynes, Sean O’Donnell, Seth O’Donnell, Crystal Tan, and Loic Thibault.

At the conclusion of the speeches and presentation of diplomas, the Angelus was rung in homage to the Northampton School for Girls, and to give the assembled crowd a moment of silent reflection. To wrap everything up, John Hazen White Jr. ’76, Chair of the Williston Board of Trustees, officially conferred upon the members of the class of 2023 the title of “graduates,” before the class of 2024 tossed their programs in the air in celebration and got up to walk around the Main Quad driveway for the congratulations line.

As the members of the class of 2024 head off onto their new adventures, Reed’s closing remarks served as the perfect reminder of what Williston has built in them, and how they should approach each new challenge.

“Wherever you find yourself, be a great teammate,” Reed started. “Continue to grow as the exceptional people you are and refine your style—be authentic. Shine a light on the good moments—celebrate the wins. Class of 2024, please know that because you went to Williston, you have the foundation to be exceptional leaders, and serve your new community with integrity.”

Watch Reunion 2024 on our YouTube page.

Commencement photo gallery, diploma photos

Academic Awards Assembly photos, video, story

Stoling ceremony video, photo gallery

Baccalaureate photo gallery, videos:

Spring Athletic Awards Assembly photo gallery, story

Full list of Senior Awards 

Soleil Richardson ’24 Commencement Senior speech

Tommy Reed ’10 Commencement speech

Head of School Robert W. Hill III introduction speech