Author Archives: Tom Keane

Sustainable Communities Day: Putting Earth Day Principles Into Practice

0-wms-earth-day-2019-tileExpanding on their daily practice of good ecological citizenship, The White Mountain School community marked Earth Day 2019 with a day-long program of workshops, expert discussions and films about humanity’s relationship with the Earth. Sustainable Communities Day 2019 highlighted steps we can all take to develop more sustainable communities. White Mountain students celebrated Earth Day’s principles by focusing on actionable insights they could affect to help save our planet.

1-am-mtgKicking off the day with a morning meeting, White Mountain students took part in hands-on workshops like yoga and mindfulness, cheese making, upcycling, greens planting, a clothing swap and an urban land policy discussion.

21-clothing-swap-2Midday, White Mountain Science Teacher Eben Kopp introduced renowned Atmospheric Scientist Alan Betts, PhD. Dr. Betts presented Climate Change and Community Resilience, which underscored the significance of local and national climate data, trends and insights with students.

23-alan-betts-last-photoThe day’s programming wrapped up with a series of thought-provoking environmental films and discussions about humanity’s relationship with our Earth.

6-canning-1Scroll down to see more photo highlights from the day’s events, then check out our website for details on our Sustainability Studies program. Founded in 2001, our Sustainability Studies
Department is the first such department at the secondary-school level in the United States.

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White Mountain Robotics Team Puts STEM Into Action

Northern Horizons robotics team at The White Mountain School had an amazing season full of multi-disciplinary exploration, triumphs and the joy of teamwork. Based in the School’s Inquiry, Innovation and Impact Lab (I-LAB), Northern Horizons works alongside other students who are pursuing STEM, LASR and mini-LASR projects with a design and build focus. The team is coached by White Mountain Director of Technology, Nathan Carlson, who also teaches Computer Programming and Photography. Northern Horizons team member Andrea Rodriguez ’20, recapped the excitement and successes of this year’s season:

img_20190331_151851Granite State District Event –
District Event Winner, Highest Rookie Seed, and Rookie Inspiration Awards
Northern Horizons, team 7416, arrived at the Granite State District Event on Thursday afternoon, where they got their robot–Murphy–ready for inspection. They were soon eager to see other robots in the Pit, the place where every team has a designated station to work on their robot between matches. During a practice match that night the team received help from Orange Chaos, team 4564, who figured out that the motors they had used for their robot’s climbing mechanism were not allowed in the rule book, and thus, needed to be removed or replaced. After removing the motors from their cases, the team retreated back to the hotel to get a good night’s rest before the long day that followed.

Because Murphy could no longer climb to the second level of the Habitat–the starting zone for an alliance in a match–the team concentrated on improving the only other task Murphy could complete: placing hatch panels on the first level of the field. Alongside other FIRST Robotics teams, Northern Horizons played a total of twelve matches. Out of these, they won six rounds.

By Saturday at noon, Northern Horizons was ranked seventeenth out of thirty-eight. Though a high ranking for their first-ever FIRST Robotics Competition, it was not enough to make the team a captain during Alliance Selection. Despite this, Northern Horizons was invited by Mechanical Mayhem, team 1519, and The Outliers, team 5687, to join their alliance in the Playoffs. Alongside the highest-ranking teams of the competition, Northern Horizons went undefeated in the quarterfinals, semi-finals, and finals, securing first place as their own and their teammates’.

Besides the District Event Winner Award and Highest Rookie Seed Award, the judges also gave Northern Horizons the Rookie Inspiration Award for the team’s determination to seek out more challenging competitions and for their ability to appropriately deal with any problems that would come their way.
UNH District Event –
Rookie All Star Award and Highest Rookie Seed Award
After spring break, the robotics team made their way to the University of New Hampshire (UNH) for their second district event. With a win already under their belt, the team passed the qualification rounds with flying colors, losing only three of their twelve matches in total. Every now and then the team encountered hiccups, but nothing they couldn’t handle in time for the next match. By the time Alliance Selection rolled around the corner, the team was ranked ninth out of the forty teams at the competition, securing them the Highest Rookie Seed Award. As the captain of the sixth alliance, the Northern Horizons teamed up with Chop Shop, team 166, and The Wire Clippers, team 5902. The alliance did not make it farther than the quarterfinals, but that did not stop the judges from giving the Northern Horizons the Rookie All Star Award for their incredible first season and perseverance.

New England District Championships –
Rookie Inspiration Award
After two successful district competitions, the Northern Horizons team was invited to attend the New England District Championship at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. With the stakes higher than ever before, Northern Horizons persevered through twelve challenging matches. Though they fell behind in the rankings, the judges recognized the team’s hard efforts in the awards ceremony and gave them their second Rookie Inspiration Award. Though this competition marked the end of the season for team 7416 and Murphy, the Northern Horizons can’t wait to see what next year has in store for them!

The White Mountain School is thrilled that the Northern Horizons team had the opportunity to make such good use of the new Innovation, Inquiry and Impact Lab (I-LAB). The I-LAB’s construction was funded through, ‘Now Is the Time. The Campaign for White Mountain.’ The space includes workstations, computers with digital design software, 3-D printers, laser cutters, and robotics equipment. The walls of the I-LAB include whiteboards and glass for idea generation, project development and collaboration.

To learn more about supporting The White Mountain School through general and directed giving, visit us online.

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


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.


Supporting Inquiry and Engagement at The White Mountain School


By David and Natasha Chomas, P ’19

We first discovered The White Mountain School when searching for a summer program to allow our son, Justin, to explore his new-found interest in rock climbing.  It was Justin who discovered what an exceptional place White Mountain is and set about convincing us to allow him to apply for admission!

We were not a “boarding school family” but quickly recognized the uniqueness of WMS. We were particularly drawn to the school because of its values, size, and culture. We worried that Justin would disappear in our town’s large high school but were confident that there would be no place to hide at the School.  White Mountain seemed to be the perfect fit.  Justin felt it and we felt it – none of us were wrong.

Our hopes were realized on drop off day! We quickly got the, “you can go home now,” signal from Justin – we knew he had found the right fit.  We love the frequent, open, and honest communication we receive from the staff and faculty which further cemented our feelings about White Mountain.  Justin enjoys his breaks at home but always looks forward to returning to his school and his friends.  When we first learned about supporting White Mountain, we were so happy to do so that we each, individually gave money to the Annual Fund without realizing the other had done so already!

The White Mountain School has provided Justin with insight and experiences he never would have had in our local school system.  From the Student-Driven Inquiry based learning and LASR projects to academic immersion experiences on Field Courses, White Mountain has given Justin the space he’s needed to truly discover what he is passionate about and find meaningful direction for the next phase of his life. Thanks to White Mountain, our son has become more confident and skillful, while also developing his love of climbing and discovering other outdoor activities like backcountry skiing and ice climbing!  His experiences at White Mountain have fostered his love of nature and the outdoors and exposed him to a wealth of career opportunities he never knew existed.  After graduation, Justin will be pursuing a Forestry degree in Parks, Recreation and Tourism. His goal: a career in conservation law enforcement.  We are so proud of him and 100% confident that we made the right choice by investing in our son’s future with a White Mountain education.

The White Mountain School has exposed Justin to so many positive opportunities and we feel lucky that he, and we, are a part of the White Mountain community.  For these reasons and so many more, we are very happy to support The White Mountain School today and beyond Justin’s graduation with gifts to both the Annual Fund and Now is the Time Campaign.

The White Mountain School, like all independent schools, relies heavily on alumnae/i, parents, neighbors and friends for support. The very foundation of independent education in America is based upon charitable support, and The White Mountain School has been part of this tradition for more than 125 years. Independent schools are sustained by the good work and charitable resources of the community it serves. Gifts help White Mountain continue to thrive, improve the School’s offerings and directly impact the School’s immediate and long-term fiscal well-being.

Field Course Highlight: Giving Back Through Service & Community Development


Twice a year, The White Mountain School offers its students a variety of opportunities to gain mastery of topics that are best learned out of a classroom setting during week-long Field Courses. Each of these immersive experiences allows an in-depth, academic exploration of a specific topic and occurs within a geographic setting ideal for authentic study. These memorable excursions provide an incomparable means for students to explore and develop their passions beyond the walls of the traditional classroom.

imgp4085One of the eleven Field Course offerings this March – Exploring the Culture and Social Justice in the Developing Caribbean Nation of the Dominican Republic –  brought White Mountain students to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where they completed community development projects in the community of La Sabana Perdida. Lead by White Mountain Faculty member Matthew Toms, the students explored poverty, social development and social justice in the Dominican Republic through direct service learning work and preparatory & reflective class sessions and discussions. The service learning component included working on a construction project and providing support to a local elementary school.imgp4229

In addition to the aforementioned trip to the Dominican Republic, White Mountain students also participated in the following Field Courses – Green Living in the Urban World: Sustainability and Service in Montreal; Leadership in the Natural World: Practical Applications of Leadership and Communication; Intersectional Feminism: An Examination of Gender, Power, and Race; Maine Coast Independent Student Project; The Physics of Climbing; Winter Photography in The White Mountains; Buddhism and Mindfulness: The Study and Practice; Economics: A Case Study Through the Ski Industry; Ekphrastic: Exercises in Art and Writing; and Avalanche Science and Education: Exploring the Mountains of Idaho.

imgp3999The White Mountain School has dedicated its academic curriculum to stimulate student inquiry and engagement.  Oftentimes, students further pursue passions inspired by Field Course in other areas like their LASR project. Learn more about our Field Courses and LASR on our website.

You can see some photos taken during this exciting Field Course opportunity below.

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Faculty Spotlight: Three Questions with Rachel Van Wylen

What inspires this accomplished artist in her classroom, the intersection of visual arts and Essential Skills & Habits, plus – where you can see Van Wylen’s own artwork!

rachel-good-smileTelemark: How does the Catherine Houghton Arts Center inspire you as both an artist and as a teacher at The White Mountain School?

Van Wylen: The Catherine Houghton Arts Center is a great place for students to work since the natural light, views of the mountains, and high ceilings create an atmosphere of possibility.  It’s also a space that changes with the seasons since the floor-to-ceiling windows let in different colors throughout the year.  In that way, it mirrors the creative process, in which things are constantly evolving.

dsc_1181Telemark: What should parents know about how arts education at The White Mountain School intersects with Essential Skills and Habits?

Van Wylen: The Art Department absolutely supports students in their development of Essential Skills and Habits.  One of the habits we emphasize most is persistence.  Students may arrive with the idea that some people are artists while others are not, but the ethos of our program is that anyone can improve and grow when given opportunities to persist.


We also emphasize curiosity.  Students get to choose which artists to research, so they are pursuing topics about which they are genuinely curious.  Similarly, projects are structured to give students room for interpretation and personal expression, so that they can pursue subjects and questions that have piqued their curiosity.

dsc_0084Telemark: Where can people go to see some of your artwork?

Van Wylen: I have some work up at the Mystic Museum of Art right now, since I am a part of the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts 108th Annual Exhibition. I was also recently featured in Chaleur Magazine with a series of drawings I made while traveling in Lisbon.

For images of Van Wylen’s work in progress, you can check out her Instagram account, or visit her website.

Cinderella – Classic Fairy Tale Underscores the Power of Persistence

2019cinderellajeteThe White Mountain School and Creative Edge Dance Studio dancers performed Sergei Prokofiev’s Cinderella ballet on April 12 and 13 at the Opera House in Littleton, New Hampshire. Through elegantly choreographed dance performances and vivid staging, the classic tale came to life as the dancers leapt, twirled and bounded to Prokofiev’s jubilant music.


First published in 1697 by Mother Goose Author Charles Perrault, the story of Cinderella is known for its title character’s grace, dramatic transformation and comically wicked step-sisters. Cinderella’s moral lessons of forgiveness, being kind to others and positive persistence under challenging circumstances remain relevant and inspirational in our time. This story, and countless others, are explored and interpreted through many and varied performing and visual arts opportunities for students at The White Mountain School.

2019cinderellameetingfan“White Mountain’s Essential Skills and Habits are holistically aligned with what I nurture in my dance students,” said Dinah Gray, Director of Dance. “Works such as Cinderella, The Nutcracker, and our Spring Recital allow students to delve deeply into the practices of persistence and collaboration, using the rehearsal process and the performance experience to cultivate excellence as artists, athletes, and members of a community.”


Performing and Visual Arts at The White Mountain School
Arts offerings at The White Mountain School include core and elective academic courses as well as technique and performance-based instruction for a number of different styles and competency levels. You can find more information and an FAQ regarding our arts programs on our website.



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