Snowy Peaks students flourish in project-based classroom, complete sailboat project |

Snowy Peaks students flourish in project-based classroom, complete sailboat project

Joss Quarantillo, left, and Miles Vaille look over their finished sail boat at Snowy Peak's celebration for the completed project on Wednesday, June 1. Both students were a part of the school's project-based learning class and helped restore the wooden boat over the last two school years, learning many valuable skills in the process.
Joel Wexler/For the Summit Daily News

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.”

Miles Vaille, left, Garrett Regner and Joss Quarantillo stand in front of the sailboat they repaired as part of Snowy Peak’s project-based learning class. The students spent the last two years on the project and have plans on taking the boat on its maiden voyage in the near future.
Joel Wexler/For the Summit Daily News

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 rigging inside of Snowy Peak’s completed sailboat. The project was a part of the school’s project-based learning class which featured freshman and sophomores. The project took the last two years to complete.
Joel Wexler/For the Summit Daily News


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.”

The finished product of a two-year-long project at Snowy Peaks Junior and Senior High School in Frisco. Students of the project based learning class spent two years repairing the sailboat and learned valuable life skills.
Joel Wexler/For the Summit Daily News

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.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Summit Daily is embarking on a multiyear project to digitize its archives going back to 1989 and make them available to the public in partnership with the Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection. The full project is expected to cost about $165,000. All donations made in 2023 will go directly toward this project.

Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.