The Willistonian, Est. 1881

Why Not Speak? Day Promotes Dialogue, Understanding

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Credit: Williston Flickr

Credit: Williston Flickr

Credit: Williston Flickr

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On Tuesday, January 30, Williston students had the opportunity to skip classes to hear guest speakers and attend workshops led by their peers and teachers. The second annual “Why Not Speak? Day” welcomed Reverend Erik Taylor Doctor and Sydney Satchell as guest speakers and also featured workshops led by 73 students and faculty.

The morning assembly began with a musical performance by Victoria Zingarelli ’18 with dancing from Triniti Slaughter ’18, A’Kayla Williams ’18, and Jamie O’Malley ’20.

Reverend Erik Taylor Doctor, who also spoke at Williston last year, followed the performance. Erin Davey, the Assistant Director of Student Activities was excited to welcome him back, noting the popularity of his talk last year.

Doctor spoke about labels and the importance of diversity in the world.

“We are a community that is resilient, proud, diverse, optimistic, inclusive, that is all of those things and more,” he said. “But what makes this community really a community? The fact that we can have tough conversations. Tough conversations have allowed us to arrive at this point of appreciated all the gifts and graces in this community.”

He also touched on the importance of being self-aware.

“Tough conversations [allow] us to look in the mirror, and when I look in the mirror, I don’t always like what I see. The mirror [shows] me every blemish, everything I don’t always notice, everything I don’t always acknowledge. Because the mirror cannot lie.”

The idea of what a name means also came up in Doctor’s talk.

“We are our names. Not our backgrounds, not our environments, not our upbringings, not our stations in life, not our destination on the journey. We are our names. And our names are enough.”

Doctor concluded, “If we are each going to live our name and be free to be expressive however we decide to present ourselves, we have to give ourselves, and each other, permission.”

After Doctor’s talk, students then had two workshops. This year presented a diverse group of workshops, and many students were conflicted on which ones to choose.

Stella Piasecki ’19 told The Willistonian, “There were so many great workshops that I had trouble choosing. I wish we had more blocks because I was interested in lots of different topics.”

Junior Annika Johnson led a workshop focusing on the intersection of climate change and social justice in the 21st century.

“I felt nervous but mostly confident and inspired because the issue I was tackling was so important and needed to be spoken about.”

She was also excited about the people who signed up.

“The students were very engaged and not afraid to share their view points and how they were feeling,” she said. “Overall, I think they learned something that will have a lasting impact on them!”

Annika is especially thankful for the experience of running a workshop.

“The experience was very affirming and I learned that any time I want to speak out and educate people about an issue, I should. People are usually open, curious, and willing to make a positive change!”

Senior Sara Renkert also led a workshop and was glad there was a third workshop time that was different then the first two, as it gave her the opportunity to take one instead of just being a leader.

Sara, along with Ellie Scott ’18 and history teacher Sara Klumpp, led a workshop on civic engagement.

“I was glad I was able to run another one this year as a continuation of the one I did last year on women’s rights. I was very thankful for Ms. Klumpp who helped come up the idea about civic engagement!”

Options for the third workshop period included workshops like book binding and meditation.

To end the day, Davey welcomed Sydney Satchell. Satchell, who was once a teacher at the Berkshire School, got into a car accident in 2015. She had to get her leg amputated as a result of the accident but was enthusiastic when speaking to students.

At one point in her presentation, Satchell removed her prosthetic leg, which she named Leglesha.

Oscar DeFrancis ’20 enjoyed the presentation.

“I thought her talk was really inspiring and reminded me to not get caught up with what could have happened or didn’t happen and just focus on making the best out of all situations.”

The day ended at 3:30, thirty minutes later than a regular school day, but most students did not mind.

Molly Solan ’19 really enjoyed the day.

“I wish we did workshop days like that more often! I led a workshop, which was a lot of work, but also really rewarding. I’m glad I did it.”

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Why Not Speak? Day Promotes Dialogue, Understanding