School aluma Barbara McFadden Sirna assumed the board chairmanship of the White Mountain School (WMS) on July 1. She is a graduate of the Class of 1963, when WMS was called St. Mary’s-in-the-Mountains.
Sirna has held the school close to her heart since graduation. She began as an alumnae representative on the Board of Trustees in 1975. She was board secretary for several years, then became Vice Chairman in 2008. She is replacing outgoing chairman John Brown.
Brown noted that Sirna’s investment expertise will be a great asset to the school. She began working in the field in 1968. She is the founder and president of Ettlinger Adams Capital Management, Inc. Sirna also has experience in real estate management.
In a statement, Sirna said that her long history with the school has been “an important and fulfilling part of my life.” She currently splits her time between Rye, N.Y. and La Quinta, Cal.
In a conversation about her new role, Sirna said, “I’m looking forward to the challenge.” Sirna said that she wishes to ensure that WMS “keeps its basic belief and mission.” She believes that there is “definitely a need for small schools” like her alma mater.
The maintenance of the campus is a primary goal for Sirna. She said her hopes are to “grow the endowment and maintain the physical plant of the school . . . We have to keep maintaining the property.” She has great confidence that the board can keep WMS “growing and up to date.”
She applauds Littleton and the surrounding community for “being as welcoming as they have been.” Sirna said that it is “nice to see the town of Littleton growing around us.” She wishes to see both the school and its neighboring towns continue to grow.
The school currently has 114 students. Sirna noted there were 83 at St. Mary’s when she graduated from the then-all girls boarding school.
Sirna praised the “wonderful” Head of School, Tim Breen. She said that WMS is also in “really good shape” with its faculty.
Sirna sees the school’s connection to alumni as central to its success. “We don’t want to lose touch with them,” she said. There are many alumni on the board.
The board also includes several parents of former students. Sirna said that the board “knows the school intimately,” which helps make WMS a stronger institution.
She looks forward to seeing continued savings from the school’s switch to wood pellet boilers for energy. This move replaced what Sirna called “a dinosaur of a furnace” that used about 20,000 gallons of fuel oil a year. The school’s commitment to sustainability, Sirna said, is a source of strength.
The student body’s level of interest in outdoor activities has impressed Sirna over the years. She proudly said that being a couch potato is not something students do at WMS.
Sirna’s long-term goal is to be able to see the school grow and prosper over the next few decades. She hopes to be on hand for the school’s 150th Anniversary, 24 years away.
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.