Graduating Seniors Offer Final Words of Wisdom


Credit: Liz Kay.

Graduation marks both the end of Williston for the class of 2017 and the welcoming of the incoming senior class of 2018. With up to six years of Williston experience under their belt, what advice do the seniors have to offer?

Senior Gabby Mercier was eager to give advice to the class of 2018 as they begin their senior year. “Don’t sit around,” she offered. Mercier believes this advice applies to both your classes and the college process. “[Either way,] you’ll be rewarded for your effort. Don’t wait to start work: get it done now. You’ll feel a thousand times more productive and accomplished.”

Senior Grace Quisenberry also acknowledged that the college process can be difficult and scary. “You may not end up going where you expected to, but it will all be okay,” she explained. “A year ago today, my college decision would have surprised me. Even though I didn’t predict it, I know that I have some of the best years of my life ahead and hopefully I will be able to take the risks I was nervous to take in high school. Most importantly, being stressed through college applications is okay and expected.”

Some of the advice students have focuses less on academics and more on ways to maximize the opportunities in their senior year outside of the classroom.

“In my experience I can remember times when I thought twice or maybe even three times about doing something before I did it, often thinking about what others would think about my actions,” explained senior Saul Blain. “To sum it all up, live your life and not someone else’s. Be happy with who you are and embrace it. Your level of happiness will be in a whole new ballpark.”

Blain continued, “It often slips your mind, [but] your time at Williston is short. Simple memories of being together are what will stay with you past your time [at Williston]… The Williston experience is so versatile and there are so many different opportunities, classes, clubs, and everything in between available. Take a ceramics class, learn about Buddhism, and play Spikeball on the quad.”

Senior Anna Wilinsky reiterated Blain’s advice. “Incoming seniors should trust themselves to make their own decisions,” she said. “It will work out in the end.”

While Williston offers many opportunities for new students at the beginning of the year, they don’t necessarily extend through all the decisions students are responsible for through the year. Emma Lehrer joined Williston as a new junior this year.

“I honestly haven’t really received that much advice from older students,” she explained. “Some things were very helpful, like when I didn’t know what was going on with convocation the first week. I wish there was more of a system in place that helps students get advice through the year such as when it is time to choose classes or attend the many spring events.”

Some classes have incorporated student advice from alumni into the structure of their course. In Mr. Ketcham’s A.P. Biology class, recent students received advice on how to succeed and enjoy the class on the first day of school. During their last week, they were given the opportunity to repay the favor.

“I like to include student advice [into the class] for the purposes of authenticity and suggestions that have actually worked for students in the past,” Ketcham said. “While I could collect this information and dole it out myself, I believe it is more effective when current students hear from former ones about how they were able to be successful. The best pieces of advice over the years have been variations of ‘be engaged in the class discussion[s]’ and ‘keep up with the reading[s].’”

Mr. Gunn’s A.P. Government and Politics worked as a similar model this year. Gunn routinely brought in seniors who took the class during the 2015-2016 year to help with this year’s “We The People” competition. Senior Alex Foster worked with this class closely before both the state and national competitions.

He explained, “Through working with the class I’ve learned how fulfilling it can be to pass information and advice down to the younger classes. Hopefully they will be able to pass down their advice to the next class and so on.”