The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

The oldest continuously published high school newspaper in America

The Willistonian, Est. 1881

Why Not Speak Day Shines Light on the “Me You Can’t See”

Credit%3A+Matt+Liebowitz
Credit: Matt Liebowitz

On April 9, 2024, “Why Not Speak Day” returned for its eighth year, this time offering more than 44 workshops led by students, faculty members, and the keynote speaker, Kimberlee Yolanda Williams, sandwiching an outdoor lunch and a returning Community Connections Fair. This year’s theme: “The ‘Me’ You Can’t See.”
“Why Not Speak Day,” is a tradition started nearly a decade ago by former Assistant Dean of Students Erin Davey. Traditionally, the day takes place on a Tuesday in the spring, with the school canceling classes in favor of a community-based day of connection.
Kimberlee Yolanda Williams, the keynote speaker, is an author and public speaker from Washington D.C. On her website, she is described as “first and foremost a humanist,” and “a deep believer in what is possible when humanity is centered.”
Humanism is a belief system that stresses the value and goodness of human beings and works toward a more rational future.
Nikki Chambers, Williston’s Dean of DEIB and one of the main people behind “Why Not Speak Day,” is excited that the day provided a break from the typical routine and gave students a chance to reflect and grow.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to broaden your perspectives about our world and learn from various community members about the rich and diverse worldviews we all hold,” she said.
Olin Rose-Bardawil, a day student from Florence, ran a workshop with Chris Doubleday, a fellow junior, about biases, in hopes of bringing some unity to campus. Olin hoped his workshop would help people see that “we have a lot more in common that we might think.”
Soleil Richardson, a senior from Bermuda, took the opportunity to share her heritage and fondness for her country with the broader Williston community.
“My workshop is an immersive experience in Bermudian heritage and culture, and I wanted to share the love I have for my island with others,” she said. “I also am a dancer, so I wanted to incorporate that into my workshop, which is why we will be learning some traditional Gombey dances.”
Gombey is a style of dance popular in the island nation of Bermuda which, according to the Smithsonian Institute, “has roots in Africa and was brought to the Caribbean by enslaved populations.”
Soleil’s workshop, along with Jayla Peets Butterfield and Zh’ky Johnson-Tuzo, was called “Lost in the Triangle: An Immersive Experience in Bermudian Heritage and Culture.”
A popular workshop was Pittman Alley and Charles Lamoureux’s “Men’s Mental Health in Sports.”
Aidan Joyce, a senior day student from Longmeadow, was interested in different perspectives on the complicated topic, a prevalent theme of the day.
“I signed up for ‘Men’s Mental Health in Sports’ because I want to hear the opinions of others on the topic, and if they differ much from my own,” he said.
Omar Santoyo, a junior from Florence, Mass., also signed up for Pittman and Charles’ session because he thinks “it’s a great topic to talk about and a super prevalent thing at Williston.”
Other students chose workshops because they thought they would be useful in the real world.
Caroline Aufiero, a senior boarder from Belmont, Mass., chose Brooke Manfredi and Hayden Hedstrom’s workshop, “The Ups and Downs of Self-Care,” as well as Aerin Kelly and Maya Libraro’s “Making and Mindfulness,” because she believed they would prepare her for the next few years of her life.
“I feel like as I go off to college, I need to prioritize myself more, and I’m hoping these will help me,” she said.
Anna Sawyer, a senior from Easthampton, chose “Dream On,” “Beyond the Athlete,” and “Making and Mindfulness,” for similar reasons.
“They all seemed like they would be informative and helpful, but also fun at the same time,” she said.
Several students picked their workshops based on the instructor.
Junior Tate Cowperthwait signed up for “Bias in the Media: Overcoming the News’ Divisive Rhetoric,” run by Olin and Chris. Tate cited his connection to them through his advisory, and his knowledge of their work ethic and dedication.
“Knowing the two of them, I am sure their workshop will be very passionate and well informed,” he said before the event. “They even got Mr. Conroy to sign up for their workshop. That really had me convinced.”
Brody Richardson, a sophomore from Easthampton, noted his admiration for Justin Brooks, a History and Global Studies teacher, when registering.
“I signed up for ‘Historicizing Beyoncé’ and ‘Life’s a Drag’ largely because Mr. Brooks is the host of those workshops and I highly respect him and his work as a teacher.”
Some students just picked their workshops because they had a prior interest in the topic.
Durgin Shields, a day student from Deerfield, Mass., picked Channing Doran’s “Bob Marley: More than Just Music,” simply because he “likes reggae and learning about the backstory of one of the most influential figures of all time in not just reggae, but all of music.”

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