VMS swells with Summit kids
VAIL – Breckenridge ninth-grader Kimberly Sugerman had a busy weekend. The newly enrolled Vail Mountain School (VMS) student completed a chapter review and some “challenge problems” for her math class, worked on a grammar packet, studied for an English quiz, prepared for a discussion for her history class and wrote a report on Neptune.On Sunday, she served as a hostess for the VMS 33rd Annual Home Tour to help raise scholarship money for the school’s students. And she did all that on top of her 45-minute daily commute to the private, college-preparatory school in Vail.But VMS’ demands on Sugerman’s time don’t dampen her enthusiasm for her new learning environment.”I like it a lot,” she said. “I don’t want to breeze through high school and get overwhelmed when I get to college. I’m going to be used to doing a lot of work and managing my time.”Sugerman is one of 32 Summit County students from 25 local families who make the trek over Vail Pass every day to attend VMS. Enrollment of local students in the kindergarten to grade 12 school increased by about 30 percent over last year.
Of note in the VMS student population this year are the children of four former Summit School Board members and two current board members, Stuart Adams and Garrett Sullivan.The school’s total student population increased from 260 last year to 315 this year.”(Summit enrollment) has grown very gradually over the years,” said VMS development director, Nancy Young. “Most people learn about it through word of mouth and coming to informational meetings. Last year was the first time we did any radio advertising, which was in line with our goal of enrollment expansion.”Sullivan won re-election to the school board with his family’s selection of schools as an issue. At the time, he said he wanted to give his children their best chance at success while working to upgrade the quality of Summit public schools.”I don’t see it as a conflict,” said Adams, whose teenage daughter, Emily, began classes at VMS this fall after attending Summit High School her freshman year. “I didn’t get onto the school board to serve my daughter’s best interest. I did it to serve the public’s best interest,” Adams said.Adams said that the decision to attend VMS was entirely Emily’s.
“I wasn’t particularly wanting to leave Summit,” Emily said. “I just really liked Vail a lot. It was a school that was going to be the best for my academic choices. I love the classes, and my teachers are already focused on my strengths and weaknesses.”The school boosted its recruitment efforts to coincide with a $26 million facilities upgrade and expansion, which includes a new academic building this year. A new gymnasium, more classrooms and a lunch room are still on the way.VMS prides itself on having a “rigorous-but-thoughtful” academic program, according to Young.”The expectations are high. The feedback we get from our alumni is that they feel extremely prepared for the rigors of college work,” Young said.One graduation requirement for seniors is acceptance to a four-year college.But academic achievement isn’t the only thing on the minds of VMS staff. Character development, athletics and community service are all important parts of the school’s experience.
“The importance of interaction between children of all different ages is built into the curriculum every day. We have many timeless school traditions that bring the children together,” Young said.For Sugerman, that’s one of the school’s biggest assets.”You’re walking down the hall with all the kindergartners, first-graders and second-graders. You talk to everybody from high school students to the elementary students. It’s a very close community,” Sugerman said.The community atmosphere at VMS was one of the major selling points for Breckenridge mother Tara Flanagan, whose sixth-grade son, Schuyler Wright, enrolled this year.”There are enormous amounts of positive energy flowing through the place,” Flanagan said. “You have to walk in the door to see what I mean. I thought for a second that maybe I’d like to re-enroll myself in middle school, but I figured I’d have some wardrobe issues.”Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 203 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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