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Sustainability

A Long Time Commitment to a Greener White Mountain

A long-time leader of the Green Schools movement at The White Mountain School, we believe it is critical that students learn not just about the theory of sustainability but also how to take real action in their own lives and communities. In fact, White Mountain was the first high school in the country—private or public—to establish a sustainability graduation requirement. Since then, our academic, experiential, co-curricular, and student leadership opportunities have only continued to grow.

  • Today, we offer courses in environmental science, sustainable agriculture, environmental literature, food production, and many students choose to complete their LASR project on a sustainability or environmental justice-related topic.

  • Local, regional, and national Field Courses related to sustainability have included "Land Use and Backcountry Skiing in the Northeast" and "Permaculture: A Path to Extending Sustainability" in New Hampshire, "Hydropower: Where Recreation, Sustainability, and Energy Demands Meet" in Maine, "Human Impact on the Colorado: How the Colorado River is Being Squeezed Dry," in Arizona, and "Soul Fire Farms: Food and Racial Justice," in New York, among many others.

  • During our afternoon sports block, co-curricular activities like Farm and Forest or Eco-Art allow students to spend time stewarding the land on our organic farm, caring for other parts of our campus, learning what goes into food production, or using the "Conservation Through Creation" approach to create purposeful art.

  • Our students organize and facilitate sustainability and environmental justice-oriented events through clubs like Sustainability Club or Community Service Club, such as climate strikes and activities for Sustainable Communities Day (Earth Day). They also work with faculty to organize clean-ups of areas in our community, like the Ammonoosuc River or Copper Cannon Camp, on Community Service Day or as off-campus weekend activities.

Sustainability and Our Campus

Our campus architecture and facilities also reflects the School's commitment to sustainability. Renewable energy and energy efficiency features are prominent in campus buildings. Three buildings are outfitted with solar panels, and two others are heated and cooled using geothermal energy. The Catherine Houghton Arts Center, one of the buildings equipped with a solar array and geothermal power, actually generates more power than it uses!

No fossil fuels are used to power or heat our New Dorm, which opened in fall 2020. The New Dorm also utilizes geothermal heat, and its backup generators are electric. The East Duplex, employee housing located directly next to the New Dorm, is heated by an air source heat pump (ASHP). In 2018, some of our environmental science classes looked at different energy-efficient heat sources. One of the recommendations they made to the School was ASHPs, so it is exciting to know that part of this latest construction project was recommended and researched by our students. Additionally, both the New Dorm and East Duplex employ a modular design, allowing for greater insulation and efficient use of building materials.

Finally, our organic farm produces multiple varieties of vegetables, fruits, and berries and includes two additional indoor growing spaces. We also have a Sugar Shack, and each spring, we tap the maple trees on campus to turn into some of the best maple syrup around. In spring 2019 alone, 200 gallons of sap was collected! Syrup and other produce from The Farm are shared with the community or even featured at our Harvest Dinner during Fall Family and Alumnae/i Weekend.