Where Every Day is a Snow Day

January 12, 2011 at 10:40 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Where Every Day is a Snow Day

Today, Weds Jan 12, 2011, all Great Barrington public schools are closed due to the snowstorm. On no specific authority, we are also making skiing or snowboarding a mandatory activity for all district students today. Attendance will be taken and absences will not be excused. Extra credit will be given for getting huge air in the park or for showing great compassion by helping carry younger students’ ski equipment across the parking lot.

But if you think one snow day is pretty awesome, how about making EVERY day a snow day? At the Vail Ski and Snowboard Academy, a public school right near the slopes of Vail Ski Resort, this is exactly the case. Today’s New York Times explains:

Four mornings a week, students attend ‘class’ on the slopes of Vail, working on their competitive ski or snowboarding skills. Book learning, tests, and classroom time are all set aside for the more important task of perfecting your on-snow form. (Students stay in school until 5PM to make up for the lost time, and have heavier academic schedules in the fall and spring when the mountain is closed).

What makes this school so unique is that it appears to be the first PUBLIC school in America dedicated to elite winter sports training, with a flexible schedule to allow students to train and compete without falling behind in school. Similar state-run academies exist in Europe, but in the US, the other schools are all private, and enormously expensive. The Vail school, like any other public school, is tuition-free, although families must contribute $7,500 for the on-snow training component, not to mention the not-insignificant costs of multiple sets of expensive equipment and travel to competitions. Nonetheless, it’s estimated that the Vail school costs less than half as much as private-run options, and has even compelled families to move across the country and become Colorado residents so that they can enroll their children.

One of the district administrators sums up the school’s philosophy succinctly: “No child left behind…on the slopes.”

Read the whole article about this unique school in today’s New York Times.


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