Why Not Speak Day Continues Tradition of Community Building


Why Not Speak Day provided another great opportunity for the celebration of community and storytelling on campus.
Why Not Speak Day, or WNS Day, is a day devoted to celebrating the ability to share a story or tradition that is close to the workshop leader. WNS Day ran on April 11; both students and teachers had the opportunity to run a workshop.
Why Not Speak Day was a tradition started by Erin Davey, current Assistant Dean of Students at Williston. Classes are put aside for the day as the community comes together and students and staff select workshops they wish to participate in.
The workshop list was released on April 4, and there was a wide range of workshop opportunities from music to discussions about identities. Sign ups took place April 5 beginning at 9:30 and ran, staggered by grade, until 10:00 p.m. and middle schoolers signed up the following day.
Students and teachers were thrilled to scroll through the listing of workshops, as Kyle Hanford, English teacher and workshop leader of “Boys to Men,” which explored what it means to be male in the 21st century, explained.
“The excitement I had for the Sears catalog as a kid is equivalent to the excitement I have as a teacher when the list of ‘Why Not Speak’ workshops comes out. I am not kidding. My only critique of WNSD is that it is not ‘Why Not Speak’ Week!”
Other offerings included “Mike Tyson and “Other Secret Jamaicans,” run by Zah Ewen, Channing Doran, and Dyson Haaland; “Antisemitism – Past and Present,” with Mrs. Kumpp; “Let’s Talk About Cultural Diversity” with Rinka Okuno, Amanda Yee, and Tu Thieu; “Mindful Mandalas,” with Ms. Staples, Ms. Zager, and Ms. Hume; “The Evolution of Hip-Hop”, with Will Vachet, Connor Queenin, and Mr. Curtis-Resnik; and “Ethics of Artificial Intelligence”with Kiko Xu, and Mrs. Polin.
Why Not Speak Day overall was a huge success, Davey said
“The day of workshops, a cherished event that Ms. Chambers, Mr. [Jayson] Leigh, and I eagerly sought to revive, proved to be a great success! Our expectations were not only met but exceeded, as the community demonstrated a remarkable level of engagement and enthusiasm for the various topics presented.”
She added, “Such an outcome is a testament to our students’ intellectual curiosity and eagerness to learn and share their personal stories and experiences throughout the day.”
Students and workshop leaders gained valuable information from the experience.
“The facilitators gained increased knowledge in a particular area and attendees gained improved communication and collaboration skills, which can help all of us build better relationships,” Davey said.
She continued, “I believe when community members come together for a day, it can lead to increased engagement and participation in future community events and initiatives. Everyone wins!”
Many students took advantage of the opportunity to share their story with the community.
Elsa Frankel, workshop leader of “Denial is a River in Egypt,” which discussed topics such as the intertwining paths of neurodiversity and homosexuality, said, “I love the chance ‘Why Not Speak Day’ provides to learn about a whole range of different topics. In the years we’ve had student let topics, and even in the years where we haven’t, I’ve experienced amazing discussions and activities.”
Elsa added, “I think ‘Why Not Speak Day’ should be about getting out of your comfort zone. If you already feel comfortable in your community, learn a new perspective and open yourself to different activities. Otherwise, use the day to connect with a niche affinity group you might not have joined before.”
Students and teachers have grown and built connections through WNS day over the years and have appreciated becoming apart of a bigger community.
“In my first year at Williston, I remember participating in two workshops that completely blew me away for their content and for the courage that the workshop leaders showed,” Hanford said. “I finished the day telling anyone who would listen, this is what makes Williston so great. The fact that we afford our community the opportunity to participate in such an important event of sharing ideas and culture is awesome!”
Melissa Brousseau, Associate Director of Athletics and workshop leader of “What’s in a name? Mascots in Sports,” said she “Always felt that running a workshop is an active way to give back to a great community and participate in something unique to Williston.”
She added that one of her most impactful WNS day experience was when, “Mrs. McDowell, other faculty and I coordinated with students in making hundreds of paper flowers for cancer treatment patients. This experience of reaching beyond Williston really impacted me.”