On the morning of Dec. 2, Sugar Bowl Academy (SBA) students entered a brightly lit, brand new academic building for the beginning of the winter trimester.
It was an almost surreal experience for many of the school’s students, who’d grown accustomed to various iterations of gritty, modular classroom buildings to accommodate the school’s growth in recent years.
Fresh off its successful $13 million Build Our Future capital campaign, the Dec. 2 academic building opening marks the first of three buildings being completed in coming months in the Village at Sugar Bowl, as both a co-ed dormitory and joint-use strength and conditioning center will make nearly 31,000 square feet in new construction for the school.
The academic building is an eight-classroom (two of which are state-of-the-art science labs) facility designed for 75 student-athletes; the co-ed dormitory will house 33 student-athletes, many of whom attend the school from out of state; and the joint-use strength and conditioning center, the Sporthaus, has been developed in concert with Sugar Bowl Resort.
The recently opened building is an amalgam of rustic splendor and high-tech functionality — floor-to-ceiling windows highlight Donner Summit’s natural splendor in common spaces and the wired-wireless classrooms boast Apple TVs and projectors to support the school’s 1-to-1 iPad program. SBA’s students are still adjusting.
“It feels like a mansion of a building because it is so big and spacious compared to what we had before,” said sophomore Julia Shray upon entering the new academic building.
“It feels pretty technologically advanced,” said sophomore Skyler Mullings. “We have some pretty cool things that we didn’t have before: surround sound in the rooms, teachers with microphones, whiteboard walls.”
The new facility is debuting some 15 years after opening its first campus in a weather-beaten California Department of Highways building at the top of Donner Summit.
With the pending addition of a Poma lift from the new campus facilities to Sugar Bowl Resort’s Disney lift, the Academy’s classroom and dormitory buildings will effectively make Sugar Bowl Academy the country’s only ski-in, ski-out campus.
Speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Head of the Sugar Bowl Ski Team and Academy Tracy Keller put the new campus in historical perspective for the parents, teachers, students, and guests gathered to see the finished building.
“Some of us remember teaching or attending classes in what is now a dorm room, the tuning room, or the gym,” said Keller. “The number of places … sometimes odd places, indeed, where we’ve held classes is so notorious that last year’s valedictorian based a pillar of his speech on it. What should be notorious, in my mind, is the grit, grace, and courage our students and staff have exhibited over the past 15 years as we’ve grown, making a home for ourselves wherever it needed to be.
“Today, we move into classrooms designed specifically for us — a home for future generations of Sugar Bowl Academy student-athletes.”
Sugar Bowl Academy boasts alumni who’ve gone on to the U.S. Ski Team and who’ve been admitted to some of the nation’s top colleges and universities — Cornell College, Dartmouth College, Tufts University, Boston College, Middlebury College, the University of Chicago, Bates College and Hamilton College, to name just a few.
To say the new campus marks a major milestone in the Academy’s history would be an understatement, as it clearly demonstrates its community’s belief in its student-athletes and the school’s continually improving programs.
About Sugar Bowl Academy
Sugar Bowl Academy is a nonprofit, private school located on Donner Summit. The school educates student-athletes in grades seven through 12th who wish to pursue their passion for alpine, nordic, or freeride skiing in a small college-preparatory teaching and learning community.