Author Archives: Amy Snow

Student Ambassador Profile: EJ Rimerman ’19

rimermanAs a Student Ambassador, you are often the first White Mountain student that visitors meet. What do you enjoy about this important role?

I really love this school and I think that this community is totally unique. Throughout my three years here, I’ve led tours for over 40 families, and met students from all different backgrounds. It’s really gratifying to be able to share my passion for this amazing place with all the prospective families I have the opportunity to meet.

Tell me about a class you are really enjoying this year and what you like about it.

One of my favorite classes this year is my Wilderness First Responder/Anatomy & Physiology course. As an outdoor enthusiast, having this level of medical training is absolutely critical, and as a kinesthetic learner, being able to go completely hands-on for one of my courses is just pure fun. The class is engaging, exciting, and without a doubt the most practical of our offerings. As an added bonus, a significant portion of our class time is spent outside in scenarios as practice, and a little time in the sun never hurts.

What is your favorite place on campus and why?

The entire White Mountain School campus is astoundingly gorgeous, but I’m partial to the formal garden. For most of the school year it offers the most amazing view of Mount Washington, and in the warm months it serves as a nexus for all of campus. It’s warm and sunny, and the blossoms are beautiful. I find myself eating meals outside as much as possible every spring.

You recently participated in the Field Course Hands and Hearts: The Civil Rights Legacy of Jewish and African Americans. How did your experiences throughout the week impact you?

Hands and Hearts was a first for me, both as a participant and as a planner. Early on in the course-development process, Lawrence Alexander asked for my help as the Jewish advisor for the program, so we could combine our experience and knowledge to create a cohesive and interesting course. It was particularly fun to have a voice in the planning of group discussions, because we were able to frame much of the itinerary around those guiding questions. Later on, I was lucky enough to participate in the course as a student.

White Mountain Welcomes Mike Peller

 

Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning, Michael Peller

Please join us in welcoming Mike Peller, White Mountain’s new Assistant Head for Teaching and Learning! Mike comes to The White Mountain School from The Nueva School (CA) where he most recently served as Assistant Head of the Upper School. Mike is passionate about his work as a thought leader in education and he describes himself as “humbled, inspired and excited” by his new role at White Mountain. After a visit to campus in early May, Mike reflected, “At a time of great educational and pedagogical change, I feel so fortunate to be joining White Mountain, a school that clearly thinks about what education could and should look like.”

Mike grew up on the campus of Northfield Mount Hermon School (MA) and later taught math there during their Summer Session. He holds a B.A. in Environmental Engineering from Harvard University and an M.A. in Leadership in Independent Schools from Columbia University where he also completed the Klingenstein Program at Teachers College. Mike spent six years at Sonoma Academy (CA) where he served as a class dean and admission officer, and helped to design their curriculum. He then moved on to Holderness School (NH) as Chair of the Math Department, Director of Project Outreach and Assistant Director of Senior Honors Thesis. In 2013 he began at Nueva, which was a PK-8 school at the time, and helped them launch their program for grades 9-12. This involved building their curriculum and assessment model from the ground up.

Thinking deeply about how we teach and assess students has been a theme throughout Mike’s career. He was drawn to White Mountain because of our forward-thinking educational philosophy which includes Student-Driven Inquiry and the Essential Skills and Habits. Mike recently shared the following in an email to the community: “You are all doing so many things remarkably well! In particular, the work you have done to create the Essentials Skills and Habits is what drew me to this position. I have been, and continue to be, committed to thinking about how schools design relevant and authentic curricula, create meaningful learning experiences, and provide actionable feedback that is rooted in mission-driven competencies, which is absolutely in line with the work you have done and are doing with the Essential Skills and Habits.” Mike has worked with the Mastery Transcript Consortium and his experience and knowledge will help White Mountain as we think about how we both teach and assess our students in a meaningful way.

Mike and his wife, Kelsey, as well as their son Harvey, will move to White Mountain at the end of June and Mike will begin in his new role on July 1. Please join us in welcoming them all to the White Mountain community!

If you would like to learn more about Mike, please follow these links:

 

Student Ambassador Profile: Alana Bonilla ’19

bonillaAs a Student Ambassador, you are often the first White Mountain student that visitors meet. What do you enjoy about this important role?

I still remember when I was toured at this school and how welcoming and kind my tour guide was. She gave me a really good impression of not only the school but the community I was about to join. I felt so welcomed and excited and I love making others feel that way too.

Tell me about a class you are really enjoying this year and what you like about it.

This year my favorite class is Precalculus. I’ve always loved math and problem solving, but this year it is not just the subject I enjoy. Between the teacher and the students we always end up laughing about something. Also, I feel as though the teacher treats us with so much respect that it makes each of us feel much more comfortable to speak up and ask questions which is something I usually tend to struggle with.

What is your favorite place on campus and why?

My favorite place on campus is Hood’s Hill. I love walking up to Hood’s Hill on a sunny day and laying down a blanket. Sometimes I will go and sit there with my friends and jam on my ukulele, or play with some of the faculty dogs, or just lay there in the sun. I also love it because it’s the center of campus and I can say hi to the people walking by or watch people slack lining by the dorms.

You recently went on the Field Course to France that focused on cultural exchange and language immersion. How did this experience affect you?

I had never been outside of the country before going to France so going overseas to Europe was a big step for me. Overall, I loved it! It’s amazing how much you can learn when you’re immersed in the culture. My favorite part of the trip was staying with my host family, only one of whom spoke any English. I got to go to school with my French host and sit in classes with her, as well as go on field trips. Between the history, the people and the food (oh my goodness the food was so good!), this trip has opened me up to another part of the world and makes me want to see even more someday.

Congratulations on being inducted into The National Honor Society! How do you feel like your time at White Mountain has contributed to your growth in the areas of scholarship, leadership, character and/or service?

For a couple of years prior to coming to White Mountain, I seemed to kind of crawl into this shell and I was afraid to speak up or get involved in anything. I had always tried to be involved in the community with my family but that was usually only outside of school. Now that I am here at WMS, I feel much more comfortable to pursue my leadership abilities as well as jump at every opportunity that comes my way. There are so many community service opportunities, leadership roles and supports that this school offers. That has helped me come out of my shell and be myself.

Community Service Day

dsc_0856The weather was ideal and spirits were high on our annual Community Service Day! This is always a wonderful day and this year was no different as White Mountain students and faculty headed out into the community to volunteer for various organizations. They helped to build and maintain hiking and biking trails, clean up local rivers, plant gardens, split and stack wood, and get the Frost Place and Copper Cannon Camp cleaned up and ready for a busy summer among many other helpful tasks! Many of our local organizations rely on the volunteer help our School provides on this day. Here is some of what they had to say about how beneficial it is:

“It is always a productive and fun day when the White Mountain group comes to help at The Rocks and at Bretzfelder Park. We split and delivered seven cords of wood which the Forest Society sells in order to help keep the property financed. We also heat with wood so the seven cords that was split, moved and stacked here is very important. The students and teachers ended up doing 78 hours of volunteer work here at The Rocks.”  – Nigel Manley, Director, The Rocks

dsc_0907“Thanks to the help of the White Mountain School volunteers, we were able to completely ready The Frost Place for our opening day on Saturday, May 26! The students and faculty volunteers helped us clean and set up the Henry Holt Barn, clear trees and debris from the poetry trail, organize the storage shed, and set up pictures throughout the museum. It was a treat to have them, and we truly appreciate all their hard work!” – Maudelle Driskell and Paige Roberts, The Frost Place

“Their many accomplishments outside consisted of putting bark mulch underneath our climbing structures and raking them out, pressure-washing the exterior of the building, preparing new soil for future planting. Indoor jobs included washing all students desks and chairs, sweeping floors, washing windows and creating posters for one of our upcoming fundraisers. We look forward to White Mountain’s Community Service Day because the volunteers always put in hard work and leave our center looking fresh and clean.” – Jo-Ann Stander, Executive Director, The Franconia’s Children’s Center

The White Mountain students who helped at Copper Cannon were wonderful! They had to be the best team yet and a fantastic representation of the school. Being a free summer camp for low income youth, Copper Cannon’s project list is always longer than hours in the day. Each summer, hours are spent not focusing on our core mission, but cleaning and repairing the winter storm damage. Having an enthusiastic crew of a dozen White Mountain students and faculty jumping in with both feet is a huge boost to our facility. When I talk with the group before they start, a quick math lesson helps them realize that their five hours multiplied by the number of participants are equivalent to almost two weeks of my time. ” – Pete Christnacht, Executive Director, Copper Cannon Camp

dsc_0869These testimonials show how beneficial the work done on Community Service Day is for many of our local organizations and it benefits our students and faculty as well. Dorothy Height wrote, “Without community service we would not have a strong quality of life. It’s important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It’s the way in which we ourselves grow and develop.” In reflecting on what she gained from the day of service, Maya Wexler ’21 shared, ”  I think Community Service Day is beneficial to our community because not only do we get to go outside and do hands-on work, but we also get to help others out along with it. We get the great feeling of knowing that because of the work we did in a few hours, we are really helping out the community around us.”

Student Summer Plans: Fatimata Cham ’19

Fatimata Cham ’19 is one of 25 young women selected from 500 applicants to serve as a Girl Up Teen Advisor by the United Nations Foundation. She will serve in this role for one year starting on June 1. The Girl Up website describes the role that Fatimata will take on in the following way:

screen-shot-2018-05-17-at-12-45-09-pm

The Teen Advisor program is where Girl Up truly lives out its “by girls, for girls” mission. Composed of a widely diverse group of teenage girls, Teen Advisors are passionate change-makers who together spread and fuel Girl Up’s work. As Teen Advisors, they are central to all Girl Up decision-making including advocacy, fundraising and communications strategy. To support the Teen Advisors in this task, Girl Up provides skills-based trainings, professional development opportunities, hands-on learning, and most significantly, personal relationships with the staff.

chamFatimata has already been in contact with the other Girl Up Advisors and she is looking forward to July when they will all come together in Washington, D.C. They will have a chance to talk about their goals and priorities for the year and to lobby senators and representatives on behalf on girls around the world. Apart from this trip, Fatimata will spend the summer working at the United Nations engaging in these global initiatives. Her work as a Girl Up Teen Advisor will also give her the opportunity to support girls in her hometown, the Bronx; her task is to work with girls in her local community to start a club which improves access to high quality education for girls. She looks forward to this challenge and wrote the following in her application for the program:

“I am proud of my accomplishments because I get to show other girls in my community that they can do it too. That being a girl should not hold you back, being a hijabi should not hold you back, but most importantly being yourself should not hold you back.”

We look forward to following Fatimata’s work as a Girl Up Teen Advisor throughout the year as she takes on this important work on behalf of girls all over the world.

Student Ambassador Profile: Mariama Lemon ’20

lemonAs a Student Ambassador, you are often the first White Mountain student that visitors meet. What do you enjoy about this important role?

I like being able to share my love and appreciation for White Mountain. I am able to connect with visitors and give them a glimpse into the wonderful community WMS is. I enjoy this because I feel as though I can help people become familiar with the School.

Tell me about a class you are really enjoying this year and what you like about it.

This year I really enjoyed the choreography class that I took in the fall. I love to dance but I have no experience choreographing dances. This class opened my eyes to the wonders of dance. I am able to appreciate and analyze dance in ways that I did not think was possible. After this class, I am now able to appreciate dance as an art form instead of just a hobby.

What is your favorite place on campus and why?

My favorite place on campus is the bench on Hood’s Hill. When I am sitting on that bench I feel connected to nature. I can see trees and mountains in the background and stars at night. I know I can go up there and feel relaxed.

You completed nearly 100 hours of community service this past winter! Why is serving your community important to you?

It is important for me to give back to a community that is helping me thrive. This community has become a second home for me over the years. I just want to respect and help my community any way that I can.

You recently went on the Field Course to France that focused on cultural exchange and language immersion. How did this experience affect you?

That Field Course had many positive impacts on my life. I was able to appreciate the beauty of language. Before this trip, I never understood the importance of language because I can communicate rather easily. When I was in France, I struggled to get my message across since I am still a beginner in France. In order to communicate, I relied on other people to translate for me and I was lucky enough to have them around. After this trip, I had a newfound appreciation for my mother and others like her. I never understood how language could be such a barrier and I am amazed by people who must find a way around that obstacle.

National Honor Society Induction

dsc_0196The National Honor Society was established in 1921 to recognize outstanding high school students. On April 27, 13 talented and accomplished White Mountain students were inducted into the NHS in a formal ceremony during Family Weekend. On behalf of her fellow NHS peers, Student Body President Pyper Williams ’18 began by thanking all those who have supported them along the way. She shared, “We would like to give thanks to teachers who guide us to be informed and compassionate individuals; to advisors who care for us and constantly provide their undying support; to our coaches who push us to our limits and lead us to be the best we can be; and to our parents who consistently give their love and support through the many ups and downs of our lives.”

dsc_0267Julia Crocker ’18 went on to describe the mission of the National Honor Society which she said is “to create enthusiasm for scholarship, stimulate a desire to render service, promote leadership and to develop character in secondary school students.” To be considered for NHS, students must have earned a 3.3 GPA or higher for their entire high school career. They can be in any grade, but must have been a student at White Mountain for at least one semester. Nominees must excel in the areas of scholarship, leadership, character and service.

dsc_0291Yalda Mauj ’19 explained that being accepted into the National Honor Society is the beginning of what we hope will be a lasting dedication to these four important tenets. She said, “The White Mountain School not only recognizes our NHS students for their past accomplishments but also challenges them to further develop their strengths as leaders through continued studies, leadership, immersion in community service projects and the life of the school.” Current NHS members hold many important leadership roles on campus including student ambassadors, crew and work job supervisors, captains of sports teams, morning meeting leaders, club leaders, proctors, and student leaders of Field Courses. Yalda noted that in addition to these noticeable leadership roles, NHS also “recognizes students who are quiet leaders and work behind the scenes, supporting and encouraging their classmates, teammates and friends to be successful and happy members of the community.”

Congratulations to the newest members of The National Honor Society:

Alana Bonilla ’19, Nickel Carlson ’20, Ana Chambers ’19, Nathaniel Clement ’20, Ayanna Dukes ’20,  Laura Gonzalez ’20, Sam Gregorich ’18, Gabriel Hernandez ’20, Alice Liu ’19, Hudson Marks ’19, Lydia Pinkham ’19, EJ Rimerman ’19, Evelyn Thompson ’19

They join these current members of NHS:

Liana Alford ’18, Marlon Andrew ’19, Rosie Bailey ’19, Fatimata Cham ’19, Ben Cohen ’18, Julia Crocker ’18, Zirui Feng ’18, Ziyi Feng ’18, Wenyi Guo ’18, Mariama Lemon ’20, Bill Luo ’18, Yalda Mauj ’19, Corrine McGrath ’18, Djenebou Semega ’19, Grace Tamlyn ’18, Pyper Williams ’18, Liang Zhuang ’18

If you would like to watch the video of the NHS Induction ceremony you can click here.

 

 

Sustainable Community Day

20180419_091558For the second year in a row, the White Mountain community came together for Sustainable Community Day. The Sustainability Club initiated this event in 2017 in recognition of Earth Day. They endeavored to plan a day that would involve the entire community and would be action-based; they hoped that everyone would learn new skills and gain practical experience while working together toward a common goal. And finally they wanted the community to recognize that there are many ways to be involved with sustainability and that investing in your community is a great jumping off point. In her introduction to the day, Renee Blacken, Sustainability Studies Chair and Science Faculty, said the following:

img_2857“Sustainability encompasses but also extends beyond the realm of environmental well-being, to include the social and economic dimensions of human society as well. Sustainability is about investing in your community, and seeing how you can make a positive impact on the people and place by which you are surrounded. Today is a celebration of sustainability, the well-being of community, place, and people. We will learn new skills, share knowledge, ask hard questions, be silly together, be vulnerable in some ways, and confident in others. We will learn from people from White Mountain and the larger community as they share the many different ways they contribute to creating vibrant communities. Vibrant communities are those that do not simply survive, but thrive. They live to their fullest potential and add value to the world. Vibrant communities require invested citizens.”

img_1428Sustainable Community Day commenced with a delicious breakfast featuring local food and a number of students and faculty got up extra early to help the kitchen staff with the preparation and cooking. The maple syrup which was made on campus (with sap from campus trees) was a big hit as always! Throughout the morning, students, faculty and staff participated in various workshops and activities that focused on community, connection, growth, sustainability and the environment.  Side by side, students and faculty explored vermiculture, made soap, tested water, created music, learned new games, cooked local food, made jam, cleaned up local trails, created art in nature, did yoga and worked on the school’s farm and pizza oven. Lunch also featured local food products and some of the morning workshops were focused on preparing food for this meal as well.

dsc_0124The afternoon featured a panel discussion with a number of local community members who shared about what they do and how they see their work contributing to the creation of vibrant communities for the present and future generations. From helping to develop new mountain bike trails to owning a local yoga studio to running a local farm, the panel members all helped the community to see that sustainability is a diverse field and that there are many ways to participate and contribute. Sustainable Community Day concluded with a basketball tournament for charity, a friendly fitness competition and a walk to our local spring with some of the campus dogs. It was a great day and Renee noted that it was made possible by the “enthusiastic contributions and participation” of the entire community.

 

Accepted Student Program

On April 2 and 3, the White Mountain community hosted 27 prospective students as part of our Accepted Student Program. Everyone arrived in time to enjoy Family-Style Dinner and then spent the evening learning about and participating in many of the White Mountain programs and initiatives that make our School unique: they went climbing on the climbing wall in the gym, threw pots and learned about arts options in the ceramics studio, answered trivia questions with the STEMinist group, explored the world of robotics, and learned about the various ways we address and promote sustainability and diversity in our community. The night ended with some fun activities and games with their hosts before returning for an overnight in the dorms.

img_20180402_221328407On Tuesday morning, the prospective students attended Morning Meeting where they had the chance to learn about some of the student-driven inquiry work that permeates our curriculum. They also visited a number of classes to get a feel for the depth and breadth of a White Mountain education and then attended a student panel where they had the chance to ask some current White Mountain students about their experience at the School. After lunch, the program concluded with a surprise trip to Chutter’s in Littleton, which features a 112-foot-long candy counter! This was a great chance for the prospective students to get a taste of the local community and was a welcome surprise.

This was the first time that White Mountain has hosted an overnight experience for prospective students and by all accounts it was a great success. In reflecting on the reasoning behind it, Allison Letourneau, Associate Head of School for Enrollment Management, said the following:

“We believe that the most compelling and differentiating aspects of our School lie in our community, and we felt strongly that an overnight Accepted Student Program was the most effective way to share this with future White Mountain students. We were blown away by how our community embraced this opportunity with a sense of enthusiasm and pride for their School. It was a collective and inspiring effort.”

It is clear that the program was greatly appreciated by the families who visited. One prospective parent described the experience as “really unique and a great way to introduce the students to life at White Mountain” and another noted that the visit made the difference in their child deciding to attend White Mountain. Thus far 18 of the 27 students have decided to join the White Mountain community and we are incredibly excited to welcome this amazing group in the fall!

 

 

White Mountain Welcomes Dinah Gray as Director of Dance

Photo Credit: Jesus Pino

Photo Credit: Jesus Pino

We are thrilled to welcome Dinah Gray who will assume her role as Director of Dance for White Mountain and the Creative Edge Dance Studio this summer. Dinah brings 20 years of dance experience as a teacher, choreographer, and performer.  She has danced professionally, taught in an after-school studio program, and is currently teaching dance at the University of Virginia, serving as an artistic associate at the Charlottesville Ballet, and teaching yoga and pilates at St. Anne’s Belfield School (a boarding school in Virginia). Dinah studied dance in a pre-professional program at the Virginia School for the Arts and earned her B.A. in Dance Performance and Choreography at Goucher College.  She also holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Columbia University.  

Kathy Kohatsu, who has owned Creative Edge and served as its Director for many years, has decided to pursue other professional opportunities. As Kathy was contemplating this decision, she approached White Mountain, with whom CEDS has partnered for the last few years, about taking over the running of the studio, feeling that this could be a good way to maintain the strength of both the studio and White Mountain’s dance program. This was an exciting opportunity for the school and in February, the Executive Committee of the board voted unanimously to assume ownership and management of Creative Edge. This will allow for stability for the studio and continued enhancement of opportunities for White Mountain dancers. Tim Breen, Head of School, states, “ We are incredibly grateful to Kathy for her leadership of Creative Edge and her partnership over the years with White Mountain. We have been lucky to be associated with such a strong dance program, and we are excited about what the future holds.”

Dinah and her husband JJ Cromer, who will be teaching history at White Mountain, along with their two daughters are all looking forward to joining the White Mountain community. When asked what she is looking forward to in this new role Dinah said the following:

Photo Credit: Jesus Pino

Photo Credit: Jesus Pino

Having the opportunity to guide and sustain a robust and established program like the one at Creative Edge Dance Studio is exciting and humbling. The array of classes offered at CEDS, the dedicated faculty, and the top-notch facility offers White Mountain students a dance opportunity that is rare and unique in an independent school of its size. I look forward to maintaining the strength and vibrancy of the CEDS program, to helping further integrate White Mountain and CEDS, and to guiding White Mountain students through their upper school dance education.”

Click here to watch a video in which Dinah discusses her background as well as her work as a teacher and choreographer.

If you would like more information about the Creative Edge Dance Studio click here.