Snowy Peaks students flourish in project-based classroom, complete sailboat project
Snowy Peaks Junior and Senior High School provides a unique learning opportunity for students who attend the school. The school, which is located off of School Road in Frisco, prides itself on providing a learning experience that is not only student centered but also individualized.
“We are relationship-based education with a social, emotional focus,” principal Jim Smith said. “We don’t call it a team. They join the Yeti family. Nothing works until we start with deep connections and relationships.”
This type of tailored curriculum allows for a plethora of opportunities that students may miss out on while attending a traditional school. At Snowy Peaks, the teachers focus on a blended-learning curriculum that hones in on all aspects of the child, including academics, character, community and nature.
This blended school curriculum was displayed at the end of the 2022 school year when students from Garrett Regner’s freshman and sophomore project-based learning class finished repairing an old, wooden sailboat.
“It’s a project-based classroom, so we start with projects. Kids learn all the skills of the projects they are interested in doing,” Regner said. “We have a few sailors in the school, so I picked the boat up on Craigslist.”
The project took the class two consecutive school years. The hull of the wooden sailboat was in rough condition when the class began working on it last school year. The class basically had to do everything in order to get the boat ready for sailing.
“When we got the boat, we started off with a bare haul with nothing to it,” student Joss Quarantillo said. “We built everything.”
“We did everything,” Regner said. “We redid the stern. We redid the deck, pulled it back, did all the framing.”
The class, including Quarantillo and Miles Vaille, learned several valuable skills throughout the project, including carpentry, sewing, rigging, trigonometry, fiberglass and epoxy skills.
Quarantillo and Vaille also feel like the project taught them problem solving and designing skills.
“We had no plans really at all. We were going off a few pictures we had from someone else,” Quarantillo said. “I say the hardest part was designing everything since we had so little to go off of.
Quarantillo had prior experience working with boats, but the sailboat project was the first time he had worked with a wooden hull.
“I had a lot of skills before. I own a couple boats, but they are all fiberglass,” Quarantillo said. “You need to be a lot more careful with what you do. The wood is less forgiving.”
Regner had plans on putting the boat on the water for the first time on Wednesday, June 1, but the promise of snow overnight canceled that plan, pushing the ship’s first voyage to a later, to be determined, date.
Wanting to see how the ship sails after countless hours of hard work, Quarantillo, Vaille and Regner promise that they will be putting the ship on the water the first chance that they get.
Regner isn’t sure what the class will do next year since successfully repairing a sailboat may be hard to top. Quarantillo and Vaille already have a few ideas though, including cedar strip paddle boards.
Although the project may not top a completely repaired sailboat, both students like the idea because of how involved the project is and how it allows them to continue to learn new skills.
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