Elementary students sample Truckee High’s Gone Boarding program

Hannah Jones

Truckee Elementary School students this week took a test ride of Truckee High School’s Gone Boarding program, a new workshop that allows students to design and shape an array of different boards.

With the supervision of high school students enrolled in the class, the younger students got a tour of the new fabrication lab, colored their own board graphics and tested their balance while older students pulled them through the hallway on foam boards.

“They’re just getting a little taste. It’s a way to get them started,” said Jeff Boliba, vice president of Global Resorts for Burton Snowboards, who partnered with the founder of Gone Boarding to implement the program at Truckee High School.

“You’re looking at 21st century woodshop,” said Boliba. “When you combine that with these high school students being able to mentor these younger kids, it’s an experience they won’t forget.”

Boliba said the visit from the elementary school is just the start for what he’s hoping will be an incorporation of this curriculum at the lower-grade levels.

The program was established at the high school following the renovation of the school’s west wing, in which the original woodshop was lost. Working with partners, including companies like Burton and Vans, the program introduces students to the board-making process as well as the marketing aspect of the business. Using state-of-the-art technology students are taught how to design, shape and fabricate skateboards, snowboards, surfboards and stand-up paddle boards, design a graphic and use social media to give their designs more visibility.

According to Kurt Zapata, who teaches the course, students are graded on whether the board is symmetrical, the creativity of graphics and the materials used.

“Truly it’s an overall aesthetic,” he said. “Does it look like it’s moving? Is the shape conducive to what you want to do?”


In the late 1980s, Zapata worked for Powell-Peralta, one of the world’s biggest skateboard companies at the time, and has continued his work in the industry since.

“When I moved here and started teaching I always envisioned how awesome it would be to have a class like this,” he said, adding that he hopes he may be able to teach a second period of the class in the future. Currently, the class has 25 students enrolled with a long waiting list to get in the next semester, according to Zapata.

“It’s cool having him as our teacher because he’s had a lot of experience in the field,” said senior Evan Opsal, who said he enjoys the freedom Zapata offers students to design what they want. “There’s really no limitations to what I put on my board and what I can make.

“It’s for me by my own means.”


The program coincides with the school’s decade-long implementation of Career Technical Pathways, a structure of teaching which not only prepares students for skilled trade jobs but can lead to higher paying jobs and better opportunities for a higher education out of high school. It places students in career specific classes that provide professional experiences in the Truckee community.

The Pathways program began with a food service and hospitality pathway and has now culminated into a variety of programs including biotechnology and engineering.

“I don’t really enjoy school and this makes it so much better,” said Myles Chisholm, a senior currently enrolled in the Gone Boarding class. “I’m not getting lectured on something I’m not interested in. The actual hands-on experience is so much more valuable.”

Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or

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