North Tahoe High students were on the mountain at Squaw Valley rather than in their classrooms to cheer on their classmate, Garret Driller, as he raced against the top skiers in the country at the U.S. Alpine Championships on March 21.
“It was a huge honor that Garret, a high school student, was selected to compete in the U.S. Nationals — and Francesca English as well,” said Laura DesLauriers, North Tahoe High School Ski & Independent Study Coordinator.
In addition to Driller, English, a fellow North Tahoe student-athlete, competed in the women’s GS and slalom.
“It was a great day with our students cheering not only for Garret but for the other athletes, and they appreciated it,” DesLauriers said.
“It was a positive experience for everyone,” said North Tahoe Principal Joanna Mitchell. “I’m always proud of the way NTHS students represent our school.”
Driller, English and Peter Holmes, who recently won multiple events at the U.S. Cross Country Ski Junior Nationals, are all members of the North Tahoe High School (NTHS) Ski & Independent Study Academy.
Student-athletes in the academy learn to juggle demanding training and competition schedules with travel, and the time management to complete their work independently is an invaluable skill to have in college and their careers.
The NTHS Ski & Independent Study Academy was started in 2007 as a result of a collaborative effort between the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, parents, teachers, community members and ski organizations.
The program has since expanded to include other sports and interests. There are currently 30 students who participate in the academy, some who take advantage of the program and resources for career internships and a variety of interests that require a flexible schedule.
“The ski academy allows me to be a part of all the other sports and clubs offered by the traditional public school, and take demanding classes, while competitively skiing,” said Bozhie Pokorny, a Far West Alpine skier.
NTHS’s ski academy offers WASC accreditation and a variety of classes, including multiple college prep, Advanced Placement and A-G-approved offerings, along with expert teachers, thorough college and career counseling, diverse social interactions and extracurricular opportunities including clubs, athletics, and participation in student leadership.
According to Johanna Monforte, who was instrumental in starting the program and is mother of NTHS ski academy graduates, Sal and Nico Monforte, “The goal of the academy is to give students the resources and academic basis for U.C. acceptance — if you reach that level, you’re pretty much able to get into any school in the nation.”
Though the program was originally designed for competitive skiers, students in the ski academy compete at various levels and in different sports. Garrett Dixon, a GoKart racer in the ProKart Tour, is one of several students who take advantage of some of the program resources due to his heavy travel schedule.
Students can arrange to have up to three of six class periods a day unscheduled. These unscheduled periods can be at any time throughout the day in order to support the student’s training needs.
They may then schedule other classes through Coldstream Alternative High School, Sierra College or other IS/online programs. Students are required to maintain a minimum 2.8 GPA to participate in the program.
Similar flexibility is also now available to middle school students through North Tahoe School.
This is the first year that the program has had a dedicated on-site coordinator in DesLauriers, who serves as a liaison between teachers, parents and students. She can often be found scanning and sending work to students on the road and assisting them in a dedicated study hall for independent study.
“It’s great to be part of a school that enables students to follow their dreams without having to give up their high school experience,” DesLauriers said.