On September 1, 2020, The Williams School welcomed its students, faculty, and staff to the Opening Day of the Schools’ 130th year.
Providing a five-day in person schedule with an option for students to learn synchronously from home, Williams remains committed to building community across modes of teaching and learning. While celebrating the School’s rich history of tradition, the community was upbeat as they conquered new pandemic-provoked traffic patterns and health & safety policies and procedures.
As with many adjustments being made due to the pandemic, Williams created a new tradition by holding a Convocation event on Thursday, September 3 via Zoom to reach all students on campus and from a distance. Head of School, Mark Fader, opened the ceremony. “For Williams, our Convocation welcomes the opportunity to recognize significant achievement in academics and co-curriculars.”
The event honored students with prizes, previously given in the spring, that highlight a commitment to the School’s core values of Scholarship, Character, and Community. Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning Jane Hannon introduced the awards. “These Book Awards acknowledge the intellectual passion and compassion of our students to the Williams community and the community at large,” stated Hannon. “We consider ourselves fortunate to be surrounded by young people with such diverse interests, experiences, and passions. May the spark they carry inspire us all as we begin this year together.”
Students were awarded seven prizes for their contributions to the community as follows:
Prize for Intellectual Curiosity
The small class experience and the benefits inherent within it are hallmarks of The Williams School. We believe in the importance of discussion and participation and wish to celebrate students who bring life to ideas in the classroom. Not only do they push their teachers to consider content in new ways, but they also inspire their peers to understand that their voices and perceptions have meaning and through their engagement breathe new life into class content. With gratitude, we honor a member of the senior class for her efforts to advance her own level of understanding within the classroom environment, while also inspiring her peers and our faculty to do the same. It is with great pleasure that we award the prize for intellectual curiosity to Samantha Karlson.
Intellectual Envoy Award
Inspiring lifelong learning is central to the Mission of The Williams School. In support of that, we celebrate students for whom intellectual ideas are explored regularly and passionately beyond not only the walls of the classroom but also beyond the confines of the School itself. With the intellectual envoy award we honor efforts to advance knowledge and understanding in the greater world. With gratitude, we extend this award to Mary Madaus.
Global Scholar Award
At Williams, we emphasize the importance of being active participants in an evolving world. In support of this goal, we appreciate that our world has never been more connected, nor information more available, than today. Yet leaders are nevertheless needed to forge meaningful connections between groups of people, to pursue accuracy of information with vigor, and to understand cultural differences with passion. Williams celebrates the member of the senior class who finds energy and inspiration in learning about and promoting understanding of people and places different from themselves. We are pleased to present the Global Scholar award to Elizabeth Merryweather.
Heart of the Community Award
Physicist Victor Weisskopf said, “Human existence is based upon two pillars: compassion and knowledge. Compassion without knowledge is ineffective; knowledge without compassion is inhuman.” At Williams, we aspire to show our students the importance of heart, empathy, and kindness within intellectual communities large and small. We honor a member of the senior class for her leadership in demonstrating care for others in all she does in addition to showing a true commitment to learning. It is with great pride that we present the Heart of the Community award to Ellie Fader.
One of the many benefits of a small school is the ability of students to make a significant impact on the community by being active and engaged listeners and willing and energetic participants. Taking the step to be a role model, a positive change agent, a collaborative peer, and an inspiration to others, while rewarding in itself, takes courage, commitment, and generosity of spirit. With the Leadership award, The Williams School honors an individual in the community who serves as an example of what is truly possible in academics and student life. This year’s recipient is Olivia Kaplan.
Fearless Explorer Award
Williams is often described as both a safe place to be oneself and a supportive environment in which to take on new challenges. We aspire to remove the fears of failure and judgment from our students, empowering them to find strength in the experience of the road less traveled. We applaud this member of the senior class who has served as a superlative example of wrestling with new ideas and experiences in positive ways. We are proud to present the Fearless Explorer award to John Lian.
Additionally, the school began a new tradition of honoring three-season athletes who continue to develop character and leadership skills in Cross Country, Soccer, Swimming, Basketball, Sailing, Tennis, and Lacrosse. Three-Season Athletes honored are:
- Ozzie Alam ’21
- Ellie Fader ’21
- Grayson Guinan ’21
- Olivia Kaplan ’21
- Navia Ladd '21
- Mary Madaus '21
- Lily Sabetta '21
- Max Sarwar ’21
- Lucy Fader ’23
- Sam Kaplan ’23
- Amand Sarwar '23
- Ben Xenelis ’23
- Zaela Crespo '24
- Skylar Frost ’24
- Brendan Li ’24
- Peyton Green ’25
- Brian Li '25
The program concluded with words from Williams’ Director of Theatre Jane Martineau, the longest serving member of the Faculty, who, in her 40th year at Williams shared both gratitude and appreciation for the School’s larger community, “While I never imagined I would be spending this milestone in my career in a pandemic, I am thankful that it is here, with you. This convocation calls us together to welcome a new and unique school year. Seeing colleagues and students face to face for the first time, in six months, is cause to celebrate. Albeit a very different celebration.”
As the new school year opens, Williams remains focused first on the health and safety precautions taken amid the pandemic while continuing to provide academic excellence in a new era.