The White Mountain School Celebrates 125th Commencement

Check out the article from the Littleton Courier.


By Kayti Burt, Littleton Courier, June 1, 2011.

BETHLEHEM— The White Mountain School (WMS) celebrated its 125th commencement last Saturday where 29 graduates began their embarkment into the post-high school world.

“At its core, education is not about buildings or particular classes or sports, it’s about people and relationships, and we are truly blessed,” said Head of School Tim Breen during the ceremony’s welcoming address that saw families, faculty, alumni, underclassmen, and supportive members of the community gathered at the school for the event. Some families traveled from as far away as Ukraine and China to see their daughter, brother, or grandchild graduate.

The commencement speaker was WMS alum Dr. Catherine Houghton, of the class of 1960. When she was at the school it was still called St. Mary’s of the Mountains, and it was still all-girls. Much has changed since then, both at the school, and in the world.

“The world out there that you are entering would have been one that was inconceivable to people a few short years ago,” said Houghton – applying that statement to the shifting of the world’s economic power from Europe and North America, and the way people are receiving their information.

“We are at the dawn of an incomprehensible onslaught of news and information – some of it useful, most of it useless,” said Houghton.

Within your lifetime, Houghton told the students, the world will have billboards that are individualized to you, we will know if there is extra-terrestrial life, and cell phones will tell you when you are in love.

“You will be part of that…Your skills as moderators and leaders will be needed out there,” she said.

Houghton encouraged the students to use their educations to help people less fortunate, and to act as problem-solvers, whether as engineers or artists.

“It is education that makes the difference…You can pay that valuable White Mountain School education forward by teaching others,” said Houghton. “So, go save the world, and since this is America, have fun doing it.”

Mikaela Houghton, of Whitefield, was one of three day students who graduated Saturday. She attended WMS for one short year, but in that time she made her mark. Houghton earned both the Community Service Award and the Lt. Michael S. Pierce Award for showing the most growth in one year. Prior to the ceremony, she spoke about how the school has left its mark on her.

“It’s been crazy, but it’s been fun,” said Houghton, who has tried whitewater rafting, rock-climbing, mountain biking, and spent a week in Montreal in the past academic year.

Despite all of the adventures she’s been on, Houghton chose the community aspect as her favorite part of the school.

“You can’t get it anywhere else. Everyone’s been so welcoming,” she said. Houghton, who obviously values community service as demonstrated by her volunteer work at a local library, preschool program, and with WMS’ Empty Bowls fundraiser this past year.

Next year, Houghton will continue to give back, working for a year in the Americorps program, tutoring youth in New York City. The following year, she will study International Studies at Long Island University.

Victoria Fura, of Littleton, is another local who graduated on Saturday. In addition to her diploma, Fura earned the Ethel W. Devin Prize for excellence in English, as well as the Faculty Award as “the student who has, in the opinion of the faculty, demonstrated excellence in both attitude and performance in scholarly and athletic endeavors.”

In her time at the WMS, Fura tried her hand at freestyle skiing, created and executed her own field course, undertook a writing-intensive independent study, and played as the goalie on the lacrosse team.

“As educators, we work hard to make ourselves unnecessary,” said staff member Julie Yates in her presentation of the Faculty Award to Fura. “Our teaching, coaching, and advising focuses on building independence. [Victoria] has helped us reach that goal.”

Fura, all smiles following the ceremony, referenced something she said in an article on local day students published in the Littleton Courier earlier this year.

“Still, best decision I ever made,” she said.
Fura will be attending Marlboro College in Vermont next year where she plans to study English.

Though the theme of any graduation ceremony is the graduates’ entrance into the next phase of their lives, Breen also reminded the students of their place at the school, referencing an Irish tradition of people leaving candles in their windows for those who are away from home.

“While you leave us today, please know that there will always be a candle burning for you at the White Mountain School, and we hope you will return home often,” said Breen.

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