Tag Archives: Alumnae/I

“Lift Thine Eyes to the Mountains”

One of the three kneelers designed by Tess Parrish, mother of alumna Susan Parrish Carter ’69.

One of the three kneelers designed by Tess Parrish, mother of alumna Susan Parrish Carter ’69.

During The White Mountain School’s 2019 Alumnae/i Weekend on Saturday, Oct. 19, the Class of 1969—who graduated from the School when it was still St. Mary’s-in-the-Mountains— celebrated their milestone 50th Reunion. One alumna, Susan Parrish Carter ’69, along with her husband, Bill, visited the School, with a keen interest in seeing the lovely altar kneeling cushions, colloquially called “kneelers,” that Susan’s mother, Tess Parrish, had designed and needlepointed in gratitude for the financial aid that Susan and her sisters received as students. Donations from alumnae/i and friends to White Mountain have, among other things, provided scholarship support to students like Susan and her sisters for generations, and continue to support scholarship support for current students.

“It was a pleasure to see the School. All the changes are really wonderful and I am happy that the School has so much to offer its students,” said Susan. “With adolescence being what it is, being a student is rarely considered a high-point. Looking back now—50 years is a pretty good distance for reflection—much of the core of St. Mary’s remained with us alumnae and has produced some pretty interesting individuals.”

According to Susan, the three kneelers that her mother designed, which now are housed in White Mountain’s Gilbert R. Tanis Oratory, were originally made for the St. Mary’s-in-the- Mountains chapel. Ironically, the chapel was one of the few rooms at St. Mary’s that did not have a view. The soul of St. Mary’s grew from its motto “Levavi oculos in montes” (“Lift thine eyes to the mountains,” Psalm 121), annually confirmed by the graduating seniors, singing Mendelssohn’s composition a cappella, as they left St. Mary’s to their futures and the School to the following classes. “I’m sure most, if not all, the seniors paid little attention to the lyrics, but all of us remember the mountains,” noted Susan. “Although St. Mary’s was remote, a little island on the rim of the valley, it made its impression on us.”

Tess Parrish demonstrating bobbin-lace for a local Textile Day in Yarmouth, Maine.

Tess Parrish demonstrating bobbin-lace for a local Textile Day in Yarmouth, Maine.

Tess Parrish was a musician, an expert in historic ecclesiastical embroideries, a needlework designer, and she spearheaded the Kneeler Project at St. John’s Episcopal Church, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Tess was grateful to St. Mary’s and the opportunities that it offered her daughters, as well as the generosity of the School and the Diocese of New Hampshire for scholarship support. She was struck by the combination of the view of the mountains surrounding St. Mary’s and the aptness of the School’s motto. St. Mary’s chapel was located in the then-new Main Building (McLane) and was one of the last rooms to be completed. As a designer who preferred to create useful pieces through her needlework, she asked the Rev. William Dearman and Headmaster John McIlwaine if she could show her appreciation to St. Mary’s with kneelers for the chapel.

From 1965 through 1966, each time Tess visited the School to pick up or drop off Susan, she reflected on the words of the School motto to develop her design and bring the mountains into the chapel. An expert in incorporating texture and color in her needlework, Tess’ design of the St. Mary’s kneelers utilized vibrant colors and several stitching techniques to render a simplified depiction of the mountains. The kneelers were completed in 1966 or 1967 and today, fifty years after the graduation of her first daughter, the kneelers are still softly reminding the White Mountain community to “lift thine eyes to the mountains.”The kneelers remain in pristine condition and are a powerful testament to the Parrish family’s appreciation of St. Mary’s and White Mountain. We want to thank them for generously sharing them with the School.

Tess recently celebrated her 90th birthday. She lives independently, volunteers at her local library, translates technical manuals on historic bobbin lace, tutors French, and continues to teach design and needlework techniques.

Give Back, Get Back: An Interview with Carol MacEwan Powers ’69 and Valle Patterson ’69

Left to right: Merri Andrews Gillian, Carmen Arsenault Perry, Valle Patterson, Susan Julien Foss, Nancy McCouch Davis, Jeanna Muir Hodgon, and Cindy Gale Harris. All graduated as part of the Class of 1969.

Left to right: Merri Andrews Gillan, Carmen Arsenault Perry, Valle Patterson, Susan Julien Foss, Nancy McCouch Davis, Jeanna Muir Hodgdon, and Cynthia Gale Harris. All graduated as part of the Class of 1969. (Missing from the photo Susan Parrish Carter and Anne Donahue Allen).

We were honored to award the 2019 Linda Clark McGoldrick Alumnae/i Award to two very deserving alumnae of St. Mary’s-in-the-Mountains who celebrated their 50th Reunion this year at The White Mountain School’s Alumnae/i Weekend. Valle Patterson and Carol MacEwan Powers, thank you for all you did to bring your class here for Reunion weekend and congratulations on receiving this award! Given to an alumna or alumnus who best represents the attributes of the “ultimate volunteer”, the Linda Clark McGoldrick Award is named in honor of Linda, Class of 1955, who served our School for countless devoted years.

This year is a special year because there is not one, but two recipients of the Award. Valle and Carol worked with the school to ensure their class had a wonderful Reunion experience. They combed through photos, sent out hand-written notes, made calls, organized hotels and dinners. The 50th Reunion would not have been the same without them! We were sorry Carol was not with us, but Valle and friends from their class and other attendees enjoyed their time in the mountains as much as we did hosting them. Many had not been back to see the renovations and additions around campus. They marveled at Lovejoy Chapel, McLane Building, and the Linda Clark McGoldrick Library and Research Center. But more meaningful than the physical changes was recapturing memories of their time at St. Mary’s. It was the perfect weekend to reconnect with classmates and an opportunity to meet with current students and their families who were also on campus for Family Weekend. They attended Saturday classes to observe first-hand White Mountain’s innovative curriculum based on Student-Driven Inquiry and place-based experiential education.

Valle Patterson and Carol MacEwan Powers.

Valle Patterson ’69 and Carol MacEwan Powers ’69.

Carol and Valle, long-time friends since 1965 when they came to St. Mary’s as Freshman, spent four years here as students. Valle was originally from Lander, Wyoming. An older cousin, Linda Lamb Ashbaugh ’62, had attended St. Mary’s. Valle heard about the skiing and other outdoor activities, in addition to the school’s music program, and wanted to attend. Valle lived in Hill House and Vaillant House. Carol, the daughter of the late Hamish and Gerry MacEwan lived on campus in faculty housing with her family. Her father, a talented artist, was head of the Art Department and taught fine arts from 1955-1971. The Hamish MacEwan Prize for Excellence in Art, named in his honor, is given annually to a student.

Carol and Valle each have many fond memories. Carol remarks that St. Mary’s was a great place to grow up. She remembers the former head of school Miss Jenks (1944-1959) and Miss Willis, the business manager. When her family came to the St. Mary’s, Seven Springs, the original main house of the Beck estate, was still standing. It was unfortunately destroyed in the fire in 1964. Carol also has memories of the horses and the horse barn (yes, there used to be riding at St. Mary’s!) and ice skating on the pond. Carol, who lives in Palm Desert, California, had hoped to have a chance to sit down with the old yearbooks to refresh her memory on several things. Her education at St. Mary’s shaped her, teaching her to persevere when things seemed difficult. She values her late mother’s unwavering support and the rewards of working hard to achieve the goals she had set for herself. It was thanks to the patience and encouragement from her St. Mary’s music teacher, Ed LeBlance, that she was accepted to the Hartt School of Music school as an organ major.

She was taught from an early age that going to Saint Mary’s was a privilege and an opportunity that not everyone had. She is grateful for having had that privilege and supports the School because she wants other young people to be afforded those same opportunities. An added bonus to organizing the Reunion is how much fun Carol has had reconnecting with old friends! She encourages classmates and alumnae/i in all classes to reconnect and get involved with White Mountain today. You won’t be sorry!

Since graduation Valle, who has lived in Jacksonville, Florida since 1978, has traveled back to St. Marys at least six times. For Valle, her four years here were more than just being at a boarding school, it was her home, “my safe and comfortable place, with new friends and ‘family’.” Valle, a talented pianist and musician, also sang in the choir. Her studies in music, photography, art, and science, along with daily skiing and outdoor sports were her passions. Some of her memorable experiences include skiing at Cannon Mountain, camping and skiing on a field trip to Tuckerman’s Ravine (Mt. Washington); Freshman year in Valliant House dorm; swimming in the pond; and attending Ivie Memorial Church in Bethlehem every Sunday. Following a long tradition, she was honored to be chosen to carry the cross, as crucifer in church, her senior year. Valle notes that St. Mary’s turned out to be the best school for her at the time, and it continues to be a special place 50 years later. “My lifelong, forever friendships established there, remain today, as the most important and cherished parts of my life.”

Valle hopes others will return to their school and witness all that is taking place in the classrooms and surrounding mountains of this very special place. “Many thanks to all the faculty, staff, students, alumnae/i, families, and friends who have dedicated their time and efforts to the continued success of The White Mountain School, to be The Best, for over 130 years!” Valle, we couldn’t agree more.

Forging a Partnership Around Sustainability

Sharing a common goal, The White Mountain School and the Stone Barns Center for Food And Agriculture recently formalized a partnership based on developing the next generation of environmental leaders with a focus on food and food systems. At White Mountain we believe that true education should do more than inform; it should inspire. Courses focusing on integral aspects of global sustainability—economy, natural environment, social equality, and personal well-being—help students become informed, thoughtful, and active stewards of the changing ecosystem. Sustainability topics are infused across the curriculum and White Mountain integrates sustainable practices into daily life through community service, recycling/composting, and job programs.

Stone Barns’ motto is, appropriately, “Dig Deeper.” Stone Barns is a hub of “learning, creativity and experimentation which encourages food change-makers near and far to make healthier choices for themselves and the planet.” Working to train the next generation of farmers and food citizens, their mission is to change the way Americans view farms and what they eat and where it comes from. On October 15-16, Lindsey Dayton, Senior Manager of Food Education, and James O’Donnell, Education Manager visited White Mountain. Through Stone Barns’ Food Education team, James works to develop the center’s interdisciplinary high school food studies curriculum and leads educational programming for teachers and students. They are looking forward to working with White Mountain and Lindsey shared the following, “Stone Barns is excited to dig in with the students and faculty of White Mountain to ask how our understanding of the environment changes when we put food and farming at the center.”

Seeking to further develop their own curriculum by learning about White Mountain’s programs and courses, they met with Head of School John Drew, administrators, program directors, and students to explore ways to cross pollinate our missions. For the foreseeable future, representatives from Stone Barns and White Mountain will work together to imagine what a partnership with a boarding school could look like. White Mountain’s mission of inquiry and engagement offers a remarkable chance to partner with a leading institution on crucial environmental and sustainability issues. The team visited several local organizations to get a perspective on local farming and production. This included a tour of Meadowstone Farms, owned by Tim Wennrich, former faculty member at White Mountain and parent of a current student. Tim shared with the group his farming practices and insights on the possible ways to incorporate more opportunities for hands-on learning at Meadowstone and White Mountain’s own organic farm. During the tour, Tim said several times, “If it’s about kids, food, and education, I’m all in!”

Our School was one of the first small, independent schools in the nation to have a farm on the campus and our Sustainability Studies Department, founded in 2001, is the first such department at the secondary-school level in the United States. White Mountain was also the first to require for graduation that all students participate in a course in this discipline. The most recent elective – Sustainable Farming – is one of many to fulfill the requirement. The course combines hands-on work on our farm during the growing and harvest season. Students learn practical skills related to food production and preservation. Moving to the classroom the focus shifts to academic studies. The course seeks to answer questions by exploring food production methods and examining the emerging ideology of food justice – the idea that the benefits and risks of growing, processing, distributing and consuming food should be shared equitably.

Fall 2019 Field Courses also looked at food-related issues and examined the ideas and practices of sustainable agriculture, farming, and environmental stewardship. The courses explored questions such as: How then can we, as global citizens, adequately nourish ourselves while considering the well-being of the planet and of future generations? Eating seasonally and locally-sourced foods may provide a sustainable solution. These are a few of the many questions that our partnership with Stone Barns will address. We will work with Stone Barns to explore ideas and curriculum for White Mountain and other schools that examine how we can create equitable food systems and promote advocates for environmental leadership. Judson Reid, White Mountain alumnus, Class of 1992, and a specialist in the Cornell University Vegetable Program, notes, “Whether they become farmers themselves or not, we need future generations to develop an understanding of how food is produced and the interface between agriculture and the natural environment. The skills and knowledge the students gain in this work can be applied to many professional and personal fields. The world needs more young people with these experiences and White Mountain is contributing. I give credit to the success I’ve enjoyed to White Mountain.” Current student, Zoe Simon ’21, is one of many students looking forward to this new venture, “I am excited about our school’s collaboration with Stone Barns. Their passion for solving environmental problems and enhancing agricultural systems is inspiring. It will be encouraging to see what their knowledge and ability to ask important questions will do to create a culture of sustainability in our community.” Future plans include a Spring 2020 Field Course that would be held at Stone Barns. We are all very excited about this unique opportunity. It is our hope that White Mountain students will be inspired by this collaboration. This exciting project is made possible by donors like you to White Mountain.

As Mike Peller, Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning, describes it, “For many reasons this partnership inspires me. Most of all, though, I am excited about the prospect of developing exemplary curriculum— focusing on food equity and environmental leadership– that can be shared widely. It is our plan to create pathways that other schools might follow— that is, using our expertise in place-based experiential education, to put food and the environment at the center of student learning. That is how we’ll build the next generation of environmental leaders.”

Located in Pocantico Hills, New York, Stone Barns originated as a collaborative experiment with conservation planners, organic farmers and many others who came together to set a common vision and purpose for the land and buildings that were once part of a 1930s dairy operation. In 2003, the Rockefeller family donated the 80-acre property and restored the barns to form the nonprofit Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, to honor the memory of Peggy Rockefeller—farmers and farmland preservationist. On the farm, the work and scope have grown beyond an initial focus on public awareness and children to include the Growing Farmers Initiative, among other programs. For more information about Stone Barns please go to stonebarnscenter.org.

From The White Mountains to the World of Agriculture: Judson Reid ’92

judson-1

What happens to a kid who grows up on a dairy farm in northern New York, goes to The White Mountain School, and falls in love with Spanish and international agriculture? He becomes a specialist in the Cornell Vegetable Program at Cornell University, of course!

Encouraged to explore the world beyond their family farm by his father and older brother (White Mountain grad, Jason Reid ‘89), Judson Reid ‘92, toured various New England boarding schools, ultimately selecting The White Mountain School.

Judson says of his time at White Mountain, “[The School] became a new home for me and an important part of my formative years. We had classmates from around the world and teachers who really encouraged us to make connections. I give White Mountain tremendous credit for developing a sense of wonder about the world beyond familiar territory. This happened through rock climbing, backcountry skiing and cultural events, plus the relationships that can only happen in a boarding school setting.”

judson-3During his sophomore year of college, Judson had the opportunity to study in Ecuador at La Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador in the capital city of Quito. While enjoying the new culture and language opportunities, he found himself drawn to the rural areas of the country. For a class project he conducted a study on an isolated farming community at 6000’. This combination of his rural roots and international interests illuminated a clear professional path. Judson transferred to Cornell University where he majored in International Agriculture with an Agronomy concentration and then earned a Master’s degree in Plant Protection.

judson-2For the past 18 years, Judson has been living in upstate NY with his family, and working for the Cornell Vegetable Program. Judson specializes in season extension of vegetable crops and conducts research on soil/plant nutrients and pest and disease management. His first assignment was working with Old Order Amish and Mennonite communities, which drew on his international agriculture degree.

“I was in the States, but my audience spoke a different language, did not access modern technology and were culturally distinct,” says Judson.

He has since gone on to publish peer-reviewed articles on these cultures. Further assignments were indeed international as he worked with farmers in Jamaica, Tanzania, Belarus, Armenia, Belize and beyond! Judson’s daily work takes him to farms outside of Ithaca, in the Adirondacks and urban farms in New York City.

Remarking on the incredible diversity of farms and farming practices in New York, Judson states, “Agriculture to me became a vehicle to connect with people and help them realize their goals. It is a unifying occupation where I find commonalities between the people who drive a horse and buggy or those who ride a subway to their rooftop farm in Brooklyn. Wherever I go in the world, when I meet farmers we have a bond. Growing food connects us all in a common endeavor and passion.”

A firm believer in the work the Cornell Cooperative Extension does, Judson sees a bright future on the horizon for small farm agriculture in NY, across the country and even world-wide. He is also proud of the work being done at The White Mountain School with the Farm and Sustainability Studies Programs.

“Whether they become farmers themselves or not, we need future generations to develop an understanding of how food is produced and the interface between agriculture and the natural environment. The skills and knowledge the students gain in this work can be applied to many professional and personal fields. The world needs more young people with these experiences and White Mountain is contributing. I give credit to the success I’ve enjoyed to White Mountain.”

To learn more about what Judson does, follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Catch up with YOUR classmates during this Fall’s Alumnae/i Weekend! Save the Date information and more on our website.