The Bittersweet Goodbye of Graduation


While some seniors have only spent around nine months at Williston, others have spent six full years as a student. Either way, students at Williston have mixed feelings regarding the idea of leaving.

Living at a boarding school is different than going to a typical public school; it becomes your life. You live on campus for a majority of the year. You spend all day every day living with dozens of people in your living space; your teachers and advisors become your parental figures; you get your meals cooked by the wonderful, kind, and thoughtful dining hall staff; the people on your sports teams become your siblings. The dorm pets become your pets. So naturally, when it’s time to graduate, there are a lot of mixed feelings.

Meryl Sesselberg, a three-year residential senior from Cape Elizabeth, Maine, said that Williston has changed her and she is sad to leave.

“Williston has been my life for the past three years I was a very different person then I am now,” Meryl explained. “I don’t know myself without Williston, so I am a little scared to see what life is like without it. All my friends are here and I think it’s going to leave a place where I have made my best memories.”

While many seniors are simply sad to leave Williston, just as they thought they would be, others are having different feelings about leaving than they thought they would.

Ryan Hennigan, a three-year residential senior from Falmouth, Mass., said that although he thought he would be ecstatic to leave, he is not.

“I thought I’d be happy,” he said. “But after three years you make a lot of memories and when it really starts getting to the end, you realize you won’t see some people ever again.”

Regardless of the situation, it is nearly always sad, to some degree, to leave your high school.  The class of 2022 is incredibly lucky to have a real, full graduation planned with all of the traditional Williston senior events. The class of 2020 was not as lucky.

Casey Feins ’20, said the way her class had to leave was incredibly hard and felt unfinished.

“Leaving Williston was hard, especially the way my class left,” Feins, who was a four-year senior from Florida, explained. “It felt really unfinished but going to college was so exciting. It’s definitely really different than Williston and at first, the transition to somewhere so much bigger was scary, but it was good.”

Not only are the seniors sad to leave, but the underclassmen are sad to see their friends leaving. The impact an upperclassmen can have on an underclassmen in a boarding school environment is immense.

Abby Muscato said her sadness regarding graduation comes from the impact that the seniors have had on not only her time at Williston, but her life in general.

“I feel really sad about the seniors leaving,” Abby, a sophomore living in Mem East, said. “They have showed me the ropes of how to make the most of my time here at Williston. I will miss all the seniors on the teams I compete on but specially the water polo team because they have had the biggest impact on my life. The seniors on that team are all like my big sisters and kana was even my tour guide when I applied here. The impact that the seniors have had on my life are hard to put into words but their impact will out last the time I’m here for.”

Izzy Ireland has two specific seniors that she is going to miss the most and that have impacted her time at Williston.

“I’m really going to miss Grace Bean,” Izzy said, a junior living in Wold House, said. “She toured me when I was in 8th grade with Praghya [Raja], and then I stayed in her room for an overnight when those still existed. I have played every season of sports with her and I have never experienced Williston without her. It will truly be so great to watch her graduate in particular but also all of my friends and teammates I will miss so much.”

Leaving is bittersweet for Sydni Landman.

“I am sad to leave but I also think it’s time,” Sydni said.