Return of The Telemark!

You voted and WMS/SMS’s long-running school newspaper, The Telemark, is returning in the form of our monthly e-newsletter. Learn the history of our School’s first student newspaper ever!
Your votes were tallied and The White Mountain School’s e-newsletter is now called The Telemark, a name which holds great historical significance in the WMS/SMS community. The Telemark is the name of WMS/SMS’s first student newspaper, which was first published in 1951. The then all-boy’s St. George’s School of Newport, RI sent St. Mary’s-in-the-Mountains an offer to exchange their bi-weekly paper, The Red and White, for St. Mary’s own publication. The only problem was that St. Mary’s had no newspaper.

This would not stand. Roommates Myra “Mydie” Higgins Nelson ‘53 and Elizabeth “Lee” Haskell Mack ‘53 knew the editor of St. George’s paper and thought it would be fun to take on the task themselves. According to an editorial in The Telemark’s first issue, “But the Telemark had not yet been born, and there was much pessimism in the air. Time, energy, money, talent were problems to be wrestled with. Title, staff writers, artists – could they be obtained? Public opinion declared an emphatic “Yes”, and with the faculty’s approval we were underway.”

The paper was initially run by the students, for the students, from a small room in the Annex of the Main Building. They researched and wrote the stories themselves, they edited the stories, they printed them alongside charming artwork by Lukie Chapman Reilly ’53, they lovingly stapled each issue together by hand and sent them out to their information-hungry fellow SMS students.  Recalls Mydie Higgins Nelson, “We just had so much fun! I thought it was a wonderful idea and I must admit that I spent a lot of time on The Telemark that should have been spent on studying.”

The name of the original paper was, of course, derived from telemark skiing or “free heel skiing,” the form of downhill skiing where the foot is bound to the ski only at the toe, allowing the heel to come up off the ski and the skier to drop into a lunge position when turning. “We did worry a little bit about the title,” says Mydie, “because telemark was such an ancient form of skiing and none of us had ever done it! Although I’m sure Paul Valar could have taught us. But we just liked the sound of it, and it stuck!”

The paper continued long after Mydie and Lee graduated, coming out regularly until ceasing publication at the end of the year in 1974. Although enjoying a brief revival as a blog in 2008 which featured contributions from students, faculty, alumnae/i and staff, The Telemark has not been a paper since then.

In the editorial of the first ever issue of The Telemark, the editors write, “Our objectives? First, that this paper shall play a major role in school life, here at Saint Mary’s-in-the-Mountains, as a permanent record of school activities, and second, that it shall give an accurate and balanced picture of school problems and possible solutions for them.”

While no longer run solely by students, we hope that this new incarnation of The Telemark can continue to fill that function for them, that it can continue to be a part of their daily lives and that it can stand as a record of their triumphs, their ambitions and their accomplishments long after they’ve left our School. We hope too that it can become a platform, not just for the day-to-day of WMS, but for the voices of our students.

Thank you, Mydie, Lee, Lukie, Pauli and the rest of the SMS students in the early ‘50s, for starting the successful and long-running Telemark. And thank you to all who participated in the email and Facebook voting for our current e-newsletter. The Telemark is reborn!

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