Growing up in New Hampshire, Wednesdays at school were ski-days. Around noon we would pile onto a yellow bus and go to the local ski mountain for instruction. While some favored the moguls of a double black diamond trail, I stayed loyal to the T-bar, happy to snowplow my way down. At the time, skiing felt like part of the routine, though now looking back I see how special – and unusual - it was to grow up in a place where part of my education took place on a ski slope.
For a skier or snowboarder, a rider or rock climber, a mountain setting may be a key component in one’s boarding school search. If a school is a five-hour drive from the nearest mountain, it’s probably not the right place for the student who yearns to pursue competitive snowboarding. Luckily, there are boarding schools in the mountains that maximize on their unique location, providing educational and recreational opportunities that the flatlander schools cannot. Below is a look at three in particular, and how they integrate the mountain setting into their educational mission.
Wasatch Academy in Mount Pleasant, Utah is a haven for the student geared up for the great outdoors. One hundred miles from Park City, and close to six national parks and several state parks, Wasatch Academy students live the big nature that is Utah. From hiking and camping to snowboarding and rock climbing, outdoor education and recreation is a fundamental aspect of the Wasatch Academy experience. Head of School, Joseph Loftin says of this environment: "The majestic Wasatch Academy located in a high, beautiful, mountain valley, provides our students a serene, nurturing environment, most conducive to developing higher thinking skills, creativity, and regard for others."
In Colorado Springs, Colorado, Fountain Valley School is proud of its setting amid the dramatic “open prairies and snow capped mountains” of the Rocky Mountain West. If the West is, as the writer Wallace Stegner once wrote, “hope’s native home,” then the Fountain Valley School is the hopeful outdoor enthusiast’s native secondary school. On a 1,100-acre central campus and a 40-acre mountain campus the Fountain Valley student may participate in an award-winning equestrian program, learn mountaineering and rock climbing, go on weekend hiking and camping excursions, and, as part of the school’s Western Immersion Program, participate in the landscape through nature writing, environmental sculpture, and learning about the history and ecology of the region.
At Gould Academy, located a mere five miles from Sunday River Ski Resort in Bethel, Maine, the classroom is as much out of doors as it is in. The school boasts “the most on snow offerings of any school in New England” such as competitive alpine, freestyle/freeride, Nordic, and snowboarding. Additionally, Gould offers a ski patrol program and runs a ski instruction program in which students teach local kids to ski. Gould also promotes outdoor education and environmental sensitivity through their Farm and Forest Program, which teaches students traditional methods of farming and forestry. On any given day a student may care for the animals that reside in the student-built farm, plow a field, boil maple sugar, or shear sheep.
Visit AQ's boarding school directory to browse a complete list of mountain boarding schools.