Back to School: TTUSD program spotlight — Independent Study and Ski Academy |

Back to School: TTUSD program spotlight — Independent Study and Ski Academy

Garrett Dixon, racing at Thunderhill.
Courtesy TTUSD |

In Tahoe Truckee, we have the good fortune to live in a highly active community and a world-class ski destination. Our students are active and talented, and many compete at a high level.

Through partnerships, committed staff, administration, and community members, North Tahoe High School is able to offer an independent Study and Ski Academy and tailor courses to fit the active lives of these students.

For the past 10 years, since the inception of the Academy, North Tahoe High School has been creating schedules that allow students to pursue their dreams while attending a comprehensive high school.

Students enrolled in the Ski Academy take a minimum of three or four classes on campus and the rest are completed through Cold Stream Alternative, online courses, or at Sierra College.

North Tahoe High School has an Independent Study Academy coordinator who works closely with the scholars and helps facilitate assignments while traveling for competition and training.

The coordinator creates an academic study plan for each student at the beginning of the year, provides independent study hall support for students throughout the week, monitors student assignment completion and grades, facilitates student travel and independent study when absent from school, and acts as a liaison between students, parents, and teachers.

Laura DesLauriers, the Independent Study, and Ski Academy Coordinator stated, “It is so rewarding to be able to support these amazing scholar-athletes in pursuit of their dreams.”

North Tahoe High School started the program in 2007 as a Ski Academy to support scholars who were also competitive skiers and accommodated their training, travel, and competitive needs so they could be successful in a comprehensive public high school and experience all of its diversity and opportunities.

NTHS alumni Johanna Monforte was instrumental in bringing this important program to North Tahoe High School.

“We needed to take advantage of the destination we live in and give our students the ability to do more things,” she said. “This program really fills a need in our community and serves our kids well. I am very proud of what we created and excited about where it is today.”

Based on the needs of its students, the Academy has expanded to support other types of competitive athletes. To date, this outstanding program has supported nationally competitive alpine skiers, Nordic skiers, Freestyle skiers, Big Mountain skiers, car racers, BMX racers, dancers, and equestrians.

To be in the Independent Study and Ski Academy, students and parents must sign a contract outlining the requirements and maintain a 2.8 GPA.

These students work hard to achieve both their academic and athletic goals and are frequently ranked at the top if their class academically. Each student and their family work closely with the school counselor to develop an individualized schedule and four-year plan.

The support of the district’s classroom teachers is a huge factor why this program is such a success. They support students in their achievement of their goals, and their flexibility, creativity, and availability in providing long-term independent work when students travel are essential.

Joanna Mitchell, Principal of North Tahoe High School, shared, “The Independent Study & Ski Academy is a great example of the many ways North Tahoe High School strives to meet the diverse needs of every student. In the past, highly competitive athletes missed so much school that they were unable to be successful in comprehensive public schools and were forced to seek expensive private school options. Thanks to the flexibility and support of TTUSD, we are able to offer students an option that allows them to remain competitive on the national and international level and thrive in our schools.”

Mara White, an incoming senior at North Tahoe High, is a Skier Cross athlete who has a dream to make it to the US Ski Team and ski in the Olympics. Last year, she won the USASA National Championships and the Nor-Am Cup.

Mara’s father, Dick White, said, “The flexibility and support from the Independent Study & Ski Academy have made this all possible for Mara. This year Mara will be competing in her First World Cup!”

North Tahoe High School has 50 scholar athletes enrolled in the Independent Study and Ski Academy for the 2016-2017 school year.

This article was provided by the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. Visit to learn more.

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