Can you say "I read the whole book? |

Can you say "I read the whole book?

Like oil and water, ski racing and high school don’t usually mix well. Challenging schedules include rigorous daily on-the-slopes training, frequent out-of-town races, as well as pre-season dry land training routines…and school. Understandably, these young athletes often struggle to meet both athletic and school demands.

In response to this uniquely Tahoe dilemma, the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District came up with a creative solution. The North Tahoe High School Ski Academy is the brainchild of Tahoe City parent Johanna Monforte and North Tahoe High School counselor Penny Burney.

“The program is now in its second year and it is great,” says Burney. “We are new and small (14 students), but in this case small is good. We are absolutely thrilled by the success of this program. Last year we had a student from Minden, Nev. who moved up here to participate in the program, as well as two snowboard competitors from New Jersey and Auburn.”

Basically the program seeks to blend the best of both worlds: athletic competition and high school curriculum. Typically, the students go to traditional high school classes five days a week in the morning between 8 a.m. and noon, the afternoon is devoted to competitive athletic learning ” snowboarding, ski racing and freestyle. Additionally, the students take independent study classes through Cold Stream Alternative School, meeting with a teacher once a week. Students are required to maintain a 2.8 GPA, which is a higher average than what is usually required by traditional high school sports.

“We wanted to embrace our assets here in Tahoe,” says Monforte, whose 15-year-old ski-racing son, Sal is enrolled in the program. “These are high achieving, highly motivated kids who do well with independent study, however a big part of the high school experience is the social component.”

She explains the academy pays heed to the very important social aspect of high school. It also offers advanced placement classes, so student-athletes can acquire skills required by California’s university system.

Importantly, the school is free unlike other area ski academies such as Sugar Bowl Ski Academy in Norden and Squaw Valley Academy in Squaw Valley. The North Tahoe Ski Academy is free and open to anyone who qualifies to go to a California public school.

“Private ski academies aren’t for everyone,” explains Bev Ducey, a trustee on the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District board. “We wanted to provide our local students with access to a high quality education, as well as the ability to pursue their dreams of becoming world class athletes. This is a great example of how the school district strives to be pro-active in offering educational options.”

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