Watch the full ceremony on our YouTube page.
Underneath inviting blue skies and with friends, family members, and loved ones watching on, 145 members of the Williston Northampton School class of 2023 celebrated their graduation on May 27.
Gathered in front of the Reed Campus Center, the graduates were feted for the 182nd Commencement ceremony in the school’s history—and the largest in terms of graduates.
The momentous occasion was met with challenges to the graduating class to look inward and cultivate a true sense of identity. From the Head of School to the Commencement Speaker and right through the class speaker, the class of 2023 was prompted again and again to find strength in their own uniqueness.
“As I have been reflecting on my time here at Williston,” said Luke Ballard ’23, the senior class speaker, “I’ve been able to look at my biggest takeaway from the high school experience—being able to surround myself with people and friends who enable me to be me has serviced me incredibly well throughout my time here.”
Commencement Speaker S.A. Fogleman ’10 used her time to recount a moment of failure in her life, and how she used it as an opportunity to pursue a better version of herself.
“I wish someone had sat me down long before I ever reached that point and said you don’t have to be perfect,” Fogleman, a U.S. Navy orthopedic surgeon, said. “You don’t have to win all the time. You don’t need to always succeed at everything you try. You are a person, not a trophy case of accolades. You are worthwhile because you’re smart and caring and funny and you love dogs—that’s enough.”
Before Fogelman’s address, Dean of Faculty Corinne Fogg ’99 took the stage to hand out the senior awards. Among the prizes handed out were three of the most prestigious honors the school confers: The Archibald V. Galbraith Prize, the Sarah B. Whitaker Prize, and the Valedictory prize.
The Archibald V. Galbraith Prize, awarded to the senior who in academics, athletics, and citizenship is exemplary, representing that which is best in the school, was awarded to Luke Ballard.
The Sarah B. Whitaker Prize, also known as the White Blazer Award, is given 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. This year’s White Blazer honoree was Katherine Kang.
Finally, the Valedictory prize, awarded to the first scholar of the class who, by record of performance during the senior year, is judged by the faculty to be the pre-eminent in academic achievement. Louisa Coughlin was this year’s valedictorian.
In addition to the academic awards, the ceremony also recognized athletic award winners. The George Denman Bowl (for boys), and the Alumnae Bowl (for girls) are “awarded to seniors whose contribution to the athletic program has been characterized by exceptional achievement, faithful participation, and loyal devotion to the best interests of the school.” This year’s honorees were Felix-Antoine Bouchard and Emily Crovo, respectively.
The Athletic Leadership Awards are presented to seniors who have distinguished themselves in terms of the quality of the leadership they have demonstrated as student-athletes. The award winners this year were Luke Ballard and Louisa Coughlin.
Also honored during Commencement were the newest members of the Cum Laude Society. The 14 honored were: Felix-Antoine Bouchard, Charlotte Carr, Austin Conroy, Ava DeCoste, Francesco Grumo, Mason Mish, Alexandra Paez, Hannah Roche, Amara Rozario, Atticus Rudof, Adam Shatz, Grey Vachon, and Cici Yu. They join 12 members honored in the winter as the Cum Laude Society inductees for the 2022-23 academic year.
At the conclusion of the speeches and presentation of diplomas, 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.”
During his remarks, Head of School Robert W. Hill III set one last challenge out before the graduating class: Think small.
“You don’t have to start a club or run for class president or captain a dance ensemble—those are all worthy goals—but I would urge you to embrace a philosophy of small gestures, class of 2023,” Hill said, “since you will be the ones who strengthen human connections, bridge divides and build positive culture.”
To close the ceremony, there was the ceremonial ringing of the Angelus bell on the Residential Quad and a moment of silent reflection—a carry-over tradition from the school’s Northampton School for Girls era—and everyone under the tent also sang the alma mater, “O Williston,” before the graduates proceeded to say their goodbyes to faculty and staff with the traditional receiving line that wraps around the entire Main Quad’s driveway.
Commencement 2023 links
- Commencement photo gallery
- Academic Awards Assembly photos, video, story
- Stoling ceremony video, photo gallery
- Baccalaureate video
- Spring Athletic Awards Assembly photo gallery, story
- Full list of Senior Awards
- Luke Ballard ’23 Senior Speech video, transcript
- S.A. Fogleman ’10 Commencement Speech video, transcript
- Head of School Robert W. Hill III introduction speech transcript