Curriculum

Sustainability Studies

Founded in 2001, our Sustainability Studies Department is the first such department at the secondary-school level in the United States. Our discipline helps students become informed, thoughtful and active stewards of the changing ecosystem. Focusing on integral aspects of global sustainability – economy, natural environment, social equality and personal well-being – we introduce students to systems thinking (which encourages students to see connections between the biological world and human society, toward the creation of solutions that satisfy both human and environmental needs), and “seventh-generation thinking,” which enables students to consider the lasting impact that today’s actions may have on generations to come. The White Mountain School integrates sustainable practices into daily life through community service, recycling, and job programs; through our Sustainability Club; through international development work; and our School’s organic farm and compost program.

Sustainability topics are infused across the curriculum  They are integrated into freshman biology, sophomore world history and junior English.  Juniors and seniors also have the opportunity to choose at least one upper-level elective course - see sustainability electives below.  
  • AP Environmental Science

    AP Environmental Science students cover a wide range of topics from environmental ethics and policy to forestry, water pollution and scarcity, population, food and agriculture, toxicology, air pollution and conventional and renewable energies in preparation for the AP exam. Students are exposed not only to a large breadth of information, but they also get depth in areas where they are able to do independent research, conduct labs on the carbon stored in our campus trees, the particulates in the air they breathe, and the water quality of a local spring and the Ammonoosuc River, and participate in a variety of field trips to a forest plantation, the regional landfill, the recycling transfer station, a wastewater treatment plant, an organic, cage-free chicken farm and a wood chip power plant. This class is a combination of lecture, discussion, labs, and field trips. (Open to juniors and seniors, or with permission of the instructor.)
  • AP Human Geography

    The evolving field of human geography examines the modern and historical patterns, means and processes of human occupation in both place and space. While this class involves an introduction to physical world geography, our study is tied primarily to the unique impacts and consequences of the interaction between geography and human populations. Aided by maps and mapping tools, students study world religions, cultural patterns and global economics in order to understand how those forces place and order people in spatial dimensions. We use established models and methods as tools for understanding how cities develop, how people move and how populations shift. While this course enables students to discover a new lens with which to understand historical events, it also benefits those who seek a deeper understanding of the modern world. Contemporary politics, economics, conflicts and events help us understand geographical concepts in real time. We may also have a number of opportunities to learn from our own local geography through selected case studies and field trips. As with all AP courses, we concentrate on the specific strategies and skills students need to be successful on the AP Exam. (Open to juniors and seniors, or with permission of the instructor)
  • Place-Based Writing

    Students in this course have the opportunity to write informatively and creatively about the places that they are from and the places in which they are currently situated, both literally and figuratively. They discover how places impact people and shape events, and, consequently, how places influence writing. In this class we also read a number of articles, short stories and essays that effectively take us to different places, causing us to experience the emotion, essence and sensual nature of several distinct locations. Writing assignments include essays, poetry and short stories, many of which will be compiled into a class journal (“Writing our Communities”). Writings of particularly high quality may be submitted to contests or for publication. (Open to juniors and seniors, or with permission of the instructor.)
  • Food: Putting it on the table

    Where does the food we eat come from? Why is it important to know? This course seeks answers to those questions by exploring food production methods (e.g., subsistence, sustainable, local, organic and industrial agriculture) 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. We cover topics including: the nutritional value of food, GMOs, water resources, soil quality, food availability and food “deserts,” government food subsidies, community-supported agriculture, farmers markets, farm-to-school programs, the Green Revolution and urban gardening. We also review case studies on global commodities such as cacao, coffee, sugar, corn, palm oil, and beef. Academic studies are balanced with hands-on activities; students learn practical skills related to food production, preparation and preservation by boiling their own maple syrup, canning food, interviewing local farmers, and helping out on the School farm. At the end of the semester, students work on a final project exploring an area of personal interest related to food.
  • Sustainability Studies Seminar

    From a biological standpoint humans have three basic needs to sustain life: food, shelter, clothing.  What impacts do the acquisition of these basic needs have on our environment and how can we acquire these basic needs in a more sustainable way? How can we produce and procure these needs in a way that promotes social equity and personal well-being while maintaining a vibrant economy?   These are some of the basic questions this course will be looking to answer. This semester long class will be broken into three distinct units, each one study one of the basic needs. At the beginning of each unit students will be introduced to a basic need, provided with background information, delve into current issues, and assess what their role is and their impact is in acquiring that need.  A large portion of the time in each unit will be guided by student-directed questions. Specifically, students will complete a mini-LASR project for each unit. Some of the topics that will be explored during the semester include, but are not limited to, sustainable architecture, the textile industry, water pollution and small and large-scale agriculture.
At The White Mountain School we believe that true education should do more than inform; it should inspire. Courses here, while aligned with a college preparatory curriculum, extend beyond the classroom and into the world around us. Here students master their Spanish on our annual international service trip, practice forest stewardship as they help to manage our 240 acre campus property, and learn to measure slopes in advanced algebra while designing their own trail projects.

Our teachers know that in every interaction with a student there is a chance to motivate, mentor, and challenge; they teach here because they truly want to share their lives and passions with young people. These components of our academic program balance rigor and relevance as we prepare our students for college and, ultimately, for lives beyond formal academics.

Faculty

THE WHITE MOUNTAIN SCHOOL

371 West Farm Road  •  Bethlehem, New Hampshire 03574  •  603.444.2928
Founded in 1886 and set in the beautiful White Mountains of northern New Hampshire,
The White Mountain School is a coeducational college-preparatory boarding and day
school for students grades 9-12/PG.