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Posted Tuesday, Nov 15, 2016 1:53:00 PM
Graduates of Williams shared their professional endeavors and their fond memories of Williams on Career Day.

The Williams School students, faculty, and staff were treated to another outstanding presentation by our alumni at the Alumni Career Day Assembly on November 3rd. Dr. Daniel Cruz '02 shared a typical day for him as a cardiologist and also shared his hope to focus on cardiac ultrasound and radiology in the future. Dan spoke eloquently about the importance of having fun. He emphasized that being an adult is not always what you think it is, and to enjoy being a kid. Nikki Polidori '93, P '21 explained how it is okay to not know what you want to do right out of high school or college. She shared that "life’s events" brought her into the career she is in now, though it was not planned. Her other advice was to be nice to each other and not to sweat the small stuff. People are always circling back into your life, so be nice and respect those around you. Dr. Matt Johnson '98 shared how his day mostly deals with writing papers, but when he is in the lab he does a lot of work with mice - mutating them and then analyzing the impact the mutation has on their brains. His advice to the students: Do not put blinders on and just do things to get you to the next step. Enjoy the moment you are in and the people you are in contact with.

All spoke of the impact certain Williams School teachers had on their career paths, and how the writing skills and other lessons learned here at 182 Mohegan Avenue were vital to their current success. After fielding a few questions from the audience, Matt and Nikki headed to class, and Dan headed to the airport to attend a family wedding in Chicago. Matt visited with Mr. Emanuel’s sixth grade history class where they were able to ask him more specific and in-depth questions about his work. Nikki visited a Life Science class, but had to leave before lunch to prepare the process of repairing a plane that had crashed on Nantucket. At lunch, Matt enjoyed visiting with History teacher Ben Ladd and Latin teacher Melissa Moss, sharing what he thinks the future holds for brain research. The three alumni left the school having had a great trip down memory lane, while, at the same time, leaving those they spoke to inspired by what they do. Just as every Williams student is unique, so is the path they take after Williams. The possibilities are endless.

Posted Sunday, Nov 6, 2016 2:51:00 PM
Students enjoyed a variety of field trips that enriched or enhanced their course of study at Williams and their preparation for college.

On Wednesday, November 2 our school undertook a day of College Preparation and Exploration. We stepped away from our regular academic schedule to allow our students an opportunity to enhance their academic studies:

  • Grade 6 enjoyed a day at Mystic Seaport learning more about the time period they are currently studying in Local History.
  • Grade 7 traveled to Massachusetts to Plimoth Plantation to spend the day there to learn about colonial ways of the settlers and native Americans.
  • Grade 8 spent the day at New England Science and Sailing (NESS) in workshops about the ocean in the morning and kayaking in the afternoon.
  • Grade 9 visited the RISD museum for a guided tour of their collection of ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Far East.
  • Grade 10 took the PSAT in the morning and visited UConn Avery Point for an Admissions presentation and tour.
  • Grade 11 took the PSAT in the morning and attended an Admissions presentation and took a tour of Connecticut College. 
  • Grade 12 was invited to Johnson and Wales in Providence, RI for workshops on preparing for life at college, and an Admissions presentation and campus tour.

Posted Thursday, Jul 28, 2016 2:13:35 PM
Our students are excited to lead the school for the 2016 - 2016 school year!

Student Government
Chairs: Katia Bourganos '18, Colin Kronholm '18, Jon Powell '17, Callum Tresnan '17
Treasurer: Adam Morell '17

Judiciary Board
Seniors: Alaina Attanasio, Hannah Daitch
Juniors: Will Jarrett, Colin Madaus

12th Grade Representatives
Caelynn Carroll, Olivia Foster, Grace Linhares, Nadia PenkoffLidbeck, Rachel Sandri

11th Grade Representatives
Rachel Goldstein, Lili Kleinberg, Tim Nessel, Alec Potts, Mia Taylor

10th Grade Representatives
Kayla Capano, Ben Fauerbach, Charlotte He, Nash Mendlinger, Anna Mirsky

9th Grade Representatives
Keri Doherty, Mimi Doherty, Quinn Furgueson, James Knowlton, Ruchi Ladd

8th Grade Representatives
Uzair Alam, Rebecca Cohn, Mary Madaus, Lauren Rolla

7th Grade Representatives
Olivia Bonner, Aliya Khan, Philip Knowlton, Sydney Swann

6th Grade (4 Representatives)
**Elect in January

Service Committee
Eli Griswold '17, Carolyn Xenelis '18

Multicultural Club
Sophie Bullinger '17, Grace Burleson '17, Caelynn Carroll '17, Asaada Craig '18, Olivia Foster '17, Emma Furgueson '17, Rachel Sandri '17

Media Team
Emma Furgueson '17

Hannah Daitch '17, Bella Griscom '17, Eli Griswold '17, Amar Viswanathan '17

Head Ambassadors
Hannah Daitch '17, Olivia Foster'17, Eli Griswold '17, Harry Yu '17

Ambassador Outreach Team Leaders
Caelynn Carroll '17, Emma Furgueson '17, Tori Hersant '17, Grace Linhares '17, Antonella Portugal '17, Rachel Sandri '17, Amar Viswanathan '17

Middle School Buddy Program Leaders
Deriyann Carter '17, Hannah Daitch '17, Oliver Falla '17, Amar Viswanathan '17


Posted Tuesday, May 24, 2016 11:06:00 AM
This year the Class of 2016 treated the school to a fun-filled day at Odetah Camping Resort owned by Nate Adelman '94.

Senior Day is a cherished and much-anticipated annual tradition. This year the Class of 2016 treated the school to a fun-filled day at Odetah Camping Resort owned by Nate Adelman '94. Our community enjoyed a relaxing day of face painting, mini golf, ultimate frisbee, basketball, kayaking, kick ball, paddle boarding, bubbles, BBQ for lunch, awesome pizza by the Rolling Tomato.and so much more...

Upon our return to school we said farewell to three teachers who will be leaving us for new schools next year: Emily Bierman (Whitby School in Greenwich), Eliza and Merrick Smith (Tilton School in NH). Lastly was the yearbook dedication and districution. This year the yearbook staff decided to dedicate the yearbook to two teachers who greatly impacted their class – Amy Keane and Jane Hannon.

Our whole school enjoyed a day out of classes and a day for community fun. Thank you, Class of 2016!!

Posted Wednesday, May 11, 2016 3:42:00 PM
Please prepare now by having sneakers and clothes for fun and games in a bag, at school daily.

Each year the Senior class organizes a surprise, special day for our community. Some years the event is held on campus or at our athletic complex, other years the school loads up the buses and travels to a fun site off campus. Students should prepare now for this exciting day by having a bag in their locker with clothing and shoes that they can run around in and possibly get wet/dirty (please note bathing suits are only permitted under tank tops/t-shirts and shorts). We also encourage students to have sunscreen and bug repellent.

Get ready for Senior Day 2016!!


Dear Students and Faculty,

    As the year comes to a close, let's not forget about the most awaited day for students since they have begun their journey at the Williams School…SENIOR DAY! Here are a few tips and reminders as the mystery date approaches.

·    For those of you who don't know, Senior Day is one day out of the school year where the seniors show our thanks to the Williams community and everything it has done for us. As a class, we plan a fun and exciting day where we take the school out of classes and bus you to a secret location!

·    You do not need to bring money! Snack and lunch will be provided!

·    Keep a bag in your locker (or car) filled with all of the necessary items you could need for whatever senior day actives we have planned for you. Here are some suggestions:

     o    Athletic clothes, or weather appropriate clothing that is comfortable to run around and play in (I.e. t-shirt, shorts)
     o    Sneakers and/or flip-flops
     o    Anyone who wishes to wear a bathing suit must have clothes on over the bathing suit at all times. Boys will not be permitted to be shirtless. There will be water and water games so prepare to get wet (or not!).
     o    Towels, blankets, etc.
     o    Sunscreen and bug repellent
     o    Sunglasses and/or hats

·    Please be mindful that Senior Day can be anytime from today until the seniors last day (Friday, May 20th).
      o    We suggest that you start bringing items in ASAP in order to be prepared for Senior Day!

·    If you are bringing valuable items such as cameras, phones, etc. please be mindful that there may be water activities and be sure to protect your personal belongings!

·    Once Senior Day ends, we will bus you back to school for the Faculty Goodbye Assembly and Yearbook presentation.

We hope that you are all as excited for senior day as we are!!
The Class of 2016

Posted Monday, Apr 25, 2016 9:21:00 AM
Cory's semifinal match will be shown on Wednesday May 11 on local ABC channels.

photo courtesy to Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

Update: Cory won his first match on Friday, May 6 and will compete in the semifinals of the 2016 Teachers Tournament on Wednesday, May 11.


Starting May 2, Cory Harris will be one of fifteen teachers in The 2016 Teachers Tournament. Cory is an English teacher, JV Soccer coach, and advisor for Bending Bridges, the school's literary magazine, and has been an educator for twelve years. When asked why he wanted to be in the show, he responded "I always thought I could be competitive in a game or two. No one would mistake me for Ken Jennings, but give me the right categories and a bit of luck, and I might be able to pull off the impossible!"

Read Cory's blog: How I Got on Jeopardy!

According to the Jeopardy! website, The 2016 Teachers Tournament is presented in affiliation with The Farmers Insurance Thank America's Teachersâ„  program (each contestant will receive a $2,500 educational grant to fund classroom projects.) Cory plans to use his grant to support the school's literary magazine, Bending Bridges, by moving from a print publication to a multi-media publication.

Cory started his quest in April of 2015 by taking the online test (50 questions with 15 seconds to answer each one.) He then became one of about 3,000 to be asked to appear for an in-person test. Cory traveled to Boston for an exciting day in June during which he took another test, played a mock game, and was interviewed to see how his personality fit with the show. "A lot of contestants have been to multiple auditions; I know I've read accounts as high as eight attempts. Some of the teachers in my tournament had gone through a couple. But my process was pretty simple, and my show's airdate is exactly one year after getting the email that I was invited to audition. May 6 is a pretty memorable day for me."

Our Williams community stepped up to help Cory by asking him random questions at random times. "Ms. Moss and Mr. Karlin gave me some books on Roman History and General Trivia. One student, John Pereira '18, still makes sure I know that Millard Fillmore is the 13th President. I also tried to keep up a bit about what some of my 10th graders were doing in their Modern World History classes (French history in particular is a weak point for me). Teaching at Williams itself is inspiring, as I've always had to prepare myself to know more than I teach in case kids ask."

Cory plans to share his experience with The Williams School community on May 6 when we gather to watch the show. He hopes his experience will inspire others to continue to strive to achieve their goals.

Article in The Westerly Sun

Article in The Day

Photo courtesy to Jeopardy Productions, Inc.

Note: In the spring of 1998 Louis Cohen, Chair of the Modern Language Department, participated in Jeopardy! and became a 3-day champion. Louis went on to attend the taping of the Tournament of Champions for that season as first alternate, but did not compete. (The rules at that time had all the 5-day and 4-day winners, not dependent upon money won, in the top 15. Even though Louis won more money than some of the 4 & 5-day winners, he was the 16th overall champion.)

How I got on Jeopardy!

Monday, May 2
The Online Test

Before I went to Los Angeles to tape the show, the main question people had about Jeopardy! was, “How did you get on the show?” I don’t know what people assume—write a letter saying I’m really smart? Talk hockey over a shared plate of poutine with Alex Trebek’?—but the answer is pretty straightforward. I know, because I’ve been trying for years. The first step is to pass a test. See, kids: they never stop!

Since 2006, Jeopardy! has offered an annual online screening test as its gateway to the show. Once a year, you can sign up to do your best at answering 50 questions. The thing is, you only get 15 seconds per question—not enough time, you cheaters, to Google all the info and still type in an answer, at least without driving yourself crazy for 13 or so minutes. (Besides, if you make it past this test, there’s another one awaiting you, so you shouldn’t even bother—more on that next time!)

The questions are typical Jeopardy! fare, ranging in difficulty from “Typing the answer in three seconds and just relaxing for the last 12 while you feel good about yourself” to “Aaaaaaah you could give me 15 years and I wouldn’t get this one right!” The test samples a bit of everything you’d see on the show, from bodies of water to Shakespeare to recent sports champions to word origins. You can’t really study for it, but the more you take it, the better you’ll be at it. Theoretically, at least. Sometimes the test seems harder some years or even some days (they offer a few dates in the same week for time zone purposes), but of course that’s largely subjective.

Looking back through my emails, it looks like the first time I took the test was in 2008. I missed at least two tests since then, and there was one year where I had technical difficulties and couldn’t see the questions. I’m guessing I took the test five times total. I never kept track of my score, so I can’t say how well I did or how close I got in any given year. They don’t tell you, either—there’s no follow up email or even an on-screen indication of how many you got right. Most years I took the test and then promptly forgot about it.

The most recent test I took was on April 14, 2015. I remember feeling pretty good about it despite the fact that I think it started out pretty tough. In addition, I had read more about the testing and audition process and had begun taking the test as something more than a lark. While there’s no “official” passing score, popular thought is that scoring a 35/50 makes you eligible for the random pool they use to select candidates for the in-person auditions. Looking back, I’m guessing I got somewhere between 38-40 right on that test. If you want to take it, you can find the video here: (Answers are below!)

Whatever it was, it was enough to move on. On May 6, 2015—exactly one year before my actual episode’s airdate—I received an email inviting me to an in-person audition in Boston. I had made it past the first stage. I had impressed a faceless computer. Now, I had to make my mark with people whose job is to make good and smart TV.

1. Outlander
2. Scandal
3. ion
4. Cincinnati
5. hearsay
6. forum
7. Voltaire
8. Android
9. Ares
10. (Congressional) Medal of Honor
11. nomad
12. Danube
13. Buster Keaton
14. The Glass Menagerie
15. Stephen Douglas
16. obsidian
17. Henri Matisse
18. Greece
19. Jesus
20. Wild
21. rack
22. graphic(s)
23. As You Like It
24. Martha Stewart
25. Utah
26. Hozier
27. Howl
28. femur
29. jubilee
30. Bull Run
31. John Kerry
32. dystopia
33. Rosh Hashanah
34. dingo
35. Moby Dick
36. Tallinn
37. You Oughta Know
38. Koch
39. Bohr
40. JS Bach
41. crucify
42. Montana
43. Notre Dame
44. Gorbachev
45. Judy Blume
46. rib
47. sodium
48. X-Men
49. ISIS
50. preposition


Tuesday, May 3: The Audition
Plenty of people have written about the audition process. Here is a pretty good piece by the Washington Post:

Most of what I would say reiterates that article. But here’s my story:

My audition was scheduled for Tuesday, June 8 2015 at 9AM in Boston. I took a train from New London during the evening of Monday, June 7, and during the whole ride there I read from an eBook version of The New York Times Book of Essential Knowledge. I stayed with a friend who happened to live in the Prudential Center, and since the audition was being held in the enjoining Sheraton hotel, I didn’t even have to walk outside to get there!

I lined up outside one of those large meeting rooms with an ID and my invitation in hand. They also had us fill out a form making sure we were eligible to be on the show—did we know anybody associated with it? What about former contestants (this is totally fine, don’t worry!) Oh, and you know those strange and awkward stories Alex Trebek reads off of cards when he interviews people during the actual show? Well, we fill out a form with five stories on them. My best one was the fact that I wrote a comic book about a magical pair of pajama pants.

They open the doors, sign us in, and then take our pictures so they can match faces with names after all is said and done. (When I got the call to be on the show, the person I was speaking with was looking at my picture and told me the shirt I had on probably wouldn’t look good on TV.) Then, they let us in. Instinctively, I decided that I should sit in the front row. After all, it’s not an 8am college class the morning after I didn’t do the reading. I want to be seen, right? They go over some ground rules and give us all Jeopardy! clicky pens—a cool souvenir that would come in handy in later months, as I used mine to practice buzzing during my January and February cramming.

Before the fun began, though, we had to take a test. See, it wouldn’t be very hard to cheat on the online test, so they give you a similar written test that you have to take in person. 50 questions, with only a few seconds to answer. Turns out my reading on the train helped me on two of them, and who knows?—that could have been the difference. After they graded the tests—they went out of the room and left us to compare notes with each other, sizing one another up like Alpha males and females—they came back and taught us how to buzz.

See, in Jeopardy!, most of the people know most of the questions. At home, you can just shout out your answers whenever you want. In the real game, there’s a guy whose job it is to activate the buzzers when Alex finishes saying the last word in the answer. If you buzz in too early, you get locked out for a fraction of a second, opening the door for a competitor. Too late, though, and you miss out. So buzzing in at the right time is often just as valuable as knowing a lot. They had a practice game board which, like the show, had a light that would come on around it when it was okay to buzz in. Now, I honestly think they just sort of pick who should answer each questions, but people played with intensity and there was a lot of button mashing going on.

They called people up three at a time and played a mock game. They emphasized energy, speaking in confident, loud voices, and calling the next category and dollar amount as quickly as you can. I watched group after group go up—some dynamos, clearly ready for prime time. Others spoke into their chests and “ummmed” their way through their responses even after being told to be louder. After each game, the contestant coordinator interviewed each contestant like Alex would, asking them about something from their info sheet. I remember one person bragging about winning a belly-flop contest when they were ten years old. Everybody is asked about their plans if they win big—paying down student debt was a popular answer, as was saving for their kids’ college education. Go figure in a room full of bright people.

I sat there in the front row the entire time, smiling and nodding my head and, because they were filming the whole thing and I’m pretty sure I was in sight of the camera for the entire hour, pretending like I knew the answers even when I didn’t. I prepared myself to talk about any of my stories and knew what I would say when I was asked about the money. However, I had to wait. Group after group went up. Then at the end, they called up the last three people. I was the final person brought up in the final group. I didn’t think that was a good sign.

We played a mock game, and I thought I did well, answering with enthusiasm, “What is Notre Dame!” on a question about Knute Rockne, and then nailing a question about Phyllis Wheatley. The coordinators seemed to like my energy. After they finished with the person standing next to me, a super-smart, made-for-tv Special Education teacher who I thought would be a slam dunk for the show. They came to me. I was ready to talk about my comic book, my love of The Walking Dead, and the time I broke my collarbone dancing to Chumbawamba’s song “Tubthumping.”But they threw me a curveball.

“Cory, you’re a teacher. That’s great! What’s your teaching style?”  

Now, that’s a question you’d expect at a job interview, not a TV show audition. I stumbled half-coherently about letting my students work independently and not lecturing too much, which is usually true, and then I was asked about any modern books I like to teach. I responded with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which I actually hadn’t been able to ever actually teach. Finally, I was asked about what I’d do with the money. Earlier, the contestant coordinator and I had our own moment—she made some joke about the Wonder Twins from the old cartoon show. I, being a nerd, put out my fist and said “Activate!” She bumped my fist. So when I was asked about the money, I said I’d like to take my family to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure to make my son a fellow nerd on all the Marvel and Harry Potter rides.

They thanked us, told us that we could get called any time in the next 18 months, and sent us on our way. During the audition I had been playing with my clicky pen and broke part of it off. I stuck around for a second and asked if I could have another one and chatted with one of the coordinators for a minute about the Curious Incident book. And it was over.

I don’t know how I did on the written test. And I know I wasn’t the smoothest when answering the question about being a teacher. But I think the coordinators knew how happy I was to be there, and how invested I was in having a great time. And you know what? It was a great time. I really didn’t think I’d get called. But I did. In early January, they invited me to be part of the show. I, of course, accepted. And I had six weeks to figure out how to win.

(Note: the people who run the auditions are fantastic, and you’ll hear more about them in the last installment of the blog!)

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