Who's in the Burrow?

Taming the Cat

Few people know that SBA parent Dave Riggs (father of Bria Riggs, '14) wrestles cantankerous snowcats in his spare time. 

When the groomer malfunctioned today prior to Team Nordic's classic sprint, Riggs sprang into action. Here he is taming the cat. 

Congratulations to senior Katrin Larusson, who took second overall on the girl's side, and sophomore Sam Zabell, who placed eighth overall on the boy's side. Team Nordic is back at it tomorrow, weather willing, with a 5K stride. 

Scene on Campus Pic of the Day

Kelly Farrell's art students got in the holiday spirit this week, making ginger-bread houses. If you look closely, it appears that Julia Bjorkman's house features a yummy, gummy-lined pathway to the front door. Happy holidays, Marmot folk!

Scene OFF Campus Pic of the Day

Three SBA student-athlete-musicians, violinists Sam Zabell, Camille Hartley, and Casey Jobe, performed last night at the Glenshire Community Center. All three are students of Truckee's Liz Glattly.  Pictured below are Hartley and Zabell, who were the final two acts. 

SBA Can!

Skyler Mullings (left) and Casey Jobe (right) move
canned goods collected by our community,
readying them for transport to the Truckee Community
Christmas collection facility on Monday.
Single mothers, the elderly or housebound, and over 300 needy families in the Truckee area are among those who will not go hungry this holiday season thanks to the efforts of Truckee Community Christmas

Sugar Bowl Academy students and faculty made a difference, too, partnering with Truckee Community Christmas in its canned food drive. 

For over two weeks students and faculty brought canned goods to campus in a challenge to see which advisory group could collect the most food. Skyler Mullings even brought in a large load of organic Annie's bunny rabbit pasta. 

The winning advisory ended up being the group that sponsored the canned-food drive this year, the ninth-and-tenth-grade "Off Piste" advisory. Coming in a close second was the older boy's advisory, with a strong late push by Marc Talbott. 

Photos follow of parts of the collection facility (only two rooms of many other rooms full of food are pictured here), which has seen canned-food donations hit a historic high this year, according to local realtor and Truckee Community Christmas leader Lynn Richardson

Advisory: Theme-Based Curriculum and the Rise of the Intentionally Non-Traditional

Older Girls' Advisory learns to change a tire
See the full post HERE
On one memorable fall day this year, the “Virtuous Dudes” of Sugar Bowl Academy’s Older Boys’ Advisory and the “Women Empowerment”-themed Older Girls’ Advisory were learning some ballroom dance steps from advisor Martin Benes.

Elsewhere on the Sugar Bowl Academy campus, a ninth-and-tenth-grade advisory group was taking a fencing lesson from advisor Jeff Schloss.

It was advisory hour, when the non-traditional and the unpredictable surface on campus, but with an underlying intentionality that – viewed more closely – makes it all, well, make sense.

For many independent schools across the country, advisory is conceived primarily – and somewhat sterilely – as a way of making sure students are on target to fulfill basic graduation requirements. The right courses have been selected, the right forms signed and delivered, the “i” is dotted and the “t” crossed.

SBA's advisory program is designed with more ambitious goals in mind, serving dynamically as a system of support for the whole child outside of the traditional classroom setting, as an environment conducive to introspection and goal setting, and as a place where our student/athletes can explore and reflect as an intellectual exercise on how a simple theme can connect life's experiences.

“Themes are large guiding scaffolds for advisors to hang their curriculum on and allow for each group to have an independent direction and identity,” said Dean of Students Andy Giordano. 

“The identity of an advisory group comes largely from the top down, where advisors collaborate and choose a theme that can excite and engage their advisees, and then develop a storyline of curriculum to give their time with their group meaning. All groups focus on ‘knowing students well,’ but the theme gives flavor and uniqueness to this umbrella idea in advisory.”

The following are the themes that this year’s advisors have selected:

· Women Empowerment
· An Attitude of Gratitude
· Off Piste
· State of Adventure
· Virtuous Dudes

At opposite ends of the age spectrum on campus, the older-girls’ advisory and the eighth-grade advisories are studies in the kind of age-appropriate, theme-based advisory planning that is happening on the Sugar Bowl Academy campus.

“Women Empowerment” is the theme of the older-girls’ advisory group. Beyond learning some salsa moves, recently the group also got a lesson on how to change a flat tire, check the oil, change the wiper blades or a headlight, and jump start a car from SBST Alpine ski coach Nate Fisher (if you missed the blog post on the subject you can catch up at http://tinyurl.com/SBAadvisory).

Said advisor Kelly Farrell: "Our girls are becoming self-sufficient women right before our eyes.”

The mission statement for the group reads as follows:

“We, the Older Girls’ Advisory, aim to identify the unique qualities in each of the girls and do our best to supplement those qualities with knowledge and skills that will give them more confidence to face their post high school years as ambitious and able individuals.” 

The eighth-grade advisory, led by Steve Ascher, Bryce Hubbard and Aly Kendall, is similarly focused on preparing students for a transitional stage – but in the younger students’ case, the transition from middle school to high school.

The group’s mission statement – aimed at instilling an “attitude of gratitude” for all the doors that an independent school education can open to those who make the most of their experience - targets the following specific areas of development:

· Adept transition to high school;
· Demonstration of organizational strategies;
· Participation in meaningful community service;
· Commencement of a lifelong journey of thoughtful self-reflection; and
· Reflection on the approaches involved in the development of healthy interpersonal relationships.

Winter Term Advisory Mission Worksheet
When leading the eighth graders in a discussion about healthy interpersonal relationships, advisors asked the group to consider thinking of these relationships as personal bank accounts, with positive interactions seen as deposits and negative interactions as withdrawals. 

“The eighth graders had a very interesting and productive discussion about ways to be more positive with one another, family members, and adult authority figures,” said advisor Aly Kendall.

“Eighth grade can be socially challenging, but Bryce, Steve and I are working collaboratively to try and help our youngest members of Sugar Bowl’s high school process their emotions productively and become thoughtful as well as thoroughly engaged members of our SBA community.”

Participation in meaningful community service was achieved in the fall when the eighth-grade advisory visited Truckee’s senior apartments and played bingo with senior citizens.

Said Giordano: “Our program mirrors the development of the whole child by building expanding connections between our students and their community. Each year the definition of community grows as students progress and begin to understand the uniqueness of their opportunity and the ubiquity of an individual’s connection to the broader world.”

Is Santa an Alpiner? Nord? Freerider?

The raging debate (well, at least for the sake of this post) on the SBA campus regarding Santa's skiing druthers was finally put to rest at SBA's Christmas formal dinner at Village Hall.

As the image here clearly shows, Santa is most definitely (well, maybe just for this year) a freerider.

A collective and giant community "thank you!" also goes out today to the SBA Marmot Moms of the month (below) who made our most festive table settings ever, and who also donated new linens (tablecloths and napkins) to the school for our formal dinner events. 

Marmot Moms of the Month Mary Beth Larusson, Gale Klenk, Deb Plant, Barb Hartley,
Jennifer Blide, Paige Carroll, Sonja Harris, Seana Doherty
(Photos by Andy Giordano)


SBA art students this week contemplated the following profound and soul-searching question: "What is my spirit animal?"

Before beginning to paint their respective spirit animals, student-athletes filled out an on-line questionnaire designed to determine what their spirit animal might be. Results were based upon student responses to such reflective questions - in this case designed to gauge one's degree of independence from family - as the following: "How often would you visit your family if you lived in close proximity?" According to her responses to the questionnaire, the spirit animal of Elise Hardy ('14) of Vermont would be a horse. 

Yes We CAN...Again!

Sinead Danagher reads a book in front of canned goods collected
by the eighth-grade advisory
Michael Cooper, Annika Berg, and Skyler Mullings of the 9th/10th-grade "Off Piste" advisory made a plea at All School Meeting today to help families who are struggling to put food on the tables this holiday season. As previously posted HERE on The Fighting Marmot, SBA is working with Truckee Community Christmas to collect canned goods for those in the Truckee area who might otherwise go hungry. 

Student-athletes who will not be in advisory Thursday due to travel schedules: please think ahead! 

SBA Represents the UK at the RHS Model UN

Fifteen Sugar Bowl Academy student-athletes and two teachers recently traveled to San Francisco to take part in the 16th annual Regional High School Model United Nations Conference. Led by Andy Knox, Corbin Prychun, and SBA senior Conner Evans, the group represented the United Kingdom. Thank you to Corbin for the following retrospective:

"Some great moments were seeing our kids standing in front of forty to fifty other delegates presenting their ideas/solutions to key issues, watching Taylor and Conner try to convince Russia to implement stronger sanctions and actions to the Syrian regime, and allowing the kids to enjoy the sights, sounds, restaurants and stores of San Francisco." - Corbin Prychun

Power Yoga in Village Hall

With the SBA Performance Training Center still drying out from the effects of the pineapple express, Director of Athlete Conditioning Candice Brooks has been leading SBA student-athletes through "Power Yoga" workouts at Village Hall. Here's a peek.

New Nano Puffers for Faculty

SBA Faculty this week have been a sea of Sugar Bowl blue in their new nano puffers.

Is it Graupel? Hail? Snow? Rime?

"Graupel" has been the word of the week on campus this week. 

Since spell check on Blogger doesn't even recognize it, you might not, either (but it is in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary - click HERE). 

Donner Summit has seen it all lately: snow, graupel, rain, probably even rime. In Monday's All School Meeting, Head of School Tracy Keller had advisory groups conduct smart phone and iPad-assisted Web searches to learn about and articulate before their peers the properties of the various kinds of precipitation we see from our campus at the base of Sugar Bowl Ski Resort. The following is an iPhone photo essay from the meeting. 

Scene on Campus Pic of the Day

SBA's violinists rehearsed yesterday after school for their performance at next week's formal dinner. 

iPads at SBA: New App-roaches + Traditional Best Practices = Enhanced Teaching and Learning

 I hit the “Play” button and the voice of SBA junior Daisy Schadlich comes over my computer speakers as I stare at the snow-white screen in front of me. 

“Hi calculus class, this is Daisy, and here is my problem.”

“So you have a hill” - a downsloping black line appears on my screen - “you’re going to have two gates, a blue gate and a red gate” - the blue gate appears uphill and the red gate downhill. 

“You have a skier at the first gate right now, and his coach is standing perpendicular to the second gate...” - two stick figures appear at their respective gates on the hill, then Daisy walks me through some mathematical formulas before letting me know the following: “We are looking for dx over dt which is going to tell us how fast the skier is going.”

As Daisy walks me through the problem, explaining the steps along the way, I hear her mental wheels turning as I see the solution unfold on my computer screen. Nothing new here: how many times have you heard a math teacher instruct you: “Ok, walk me through what you did here.” This is traditional best practice at work: students have been asked by their math teachers from time immemorial to articulate how they arrived at the solution to a math problem. 

Adding to the old-school feel of the assignment is that this is really just pen-and-paper or maker-board problem solving, but with a fresh and innovative approach that has far-reaching implications for Sugar Bowl Academy student-athletes, who must interface with teachers while on the road in the winter and early spring to far-flung races and comps. 

That’s where SBA’s 1:1 iPad program promises to make a tremendous difference in teaching and learning. The potential for flipped instruction on a highly portable platform is where the real magic lies; with teachers screencasting and posting instructional videos for the benefit of their students, and students then showing their mastery of the material presented through their own iPad screen castings. 
"The recorded narration of the problem-solving process helps me to truly see and understand the students' thought process as they are working through the problems, and to identify where, if anywhere, the break-down in reasoning occurs. On the students' end, using the iPad seems to really enhance their engagement in the assignment and their investment in the learning process." - Steve Ascher
You can watch and listen to Daisy’s solution to her related-rates
calculus problem at 
Said Daisy: “The interactive aspect of the project is really helpful to my understanding of the material. I think it helped everyone in the class to have to actually think through the process of the problem, instead of just doing the math mindlessly.”

Click HERE to see Daisy's "Educreation" project.  

CAN We Help? Yes, We Can!

SBA is partnering with Truckee Community Christmas (click HERE to learn more about the non-profit, 501 c3) to make sure that nobody goes hungry in Truckee during the 2012 holiday season. The ninth-and-tenth-grade "Off Piste"-themed advisory is leading an advisory challenge between now and Dec. 16th. The advisory group that collects the most canned food will be rewarded with fiesta supplies through Student Council funds. Lists of appropriate food items for donation have been placed in each student’s box. Let’s do our part to make this a special Christmas for everybody in Truckee!

Can we help?

Yes, we can!

Pitch in!

SBA Alum Brooks in Top Five at Copper

Congratulations to SBA Alum Dylan Brooks for his top-five finish in the FIS Giant Slalom race at Copper Mountain yesterday. 

Brooks put together two runs of 1:00.45 and 1:01.44. The top combined time was 1:59.09. 

Click HERE for full results.

Scene on Campus Pic of the Day

Students found new styli in their boxes when they arrived on campus today, courtesy of Student Council...

SBA Musicians Perform at Pioneer Center

Finding time to practice a musical instrument when faced with a rigorous conditioning regimen and equally rigorous college-prep academics can be a challenge, to say the least. 

That doesn't stop four SBA student-athletes, who travel to Reno weekly to practice with their respective orchestras. 

Two SBA student-athletes - ninth-graders Skyler Mullings and Casey Jobe - recently performed with the Reno Youth Concert Orchestra and two more - Camille Hartley and Sam Zabell - with the Reno Youth Symphony Orchestra. 

Mullings plays the trombone and Jobe is a first violin for the Reno Youth Concert Orchestra, which is considered the intermediate-level orchestra. Zabell (Principal) and Hartley play violin for the more advanced Youth Symphony Orchestra. The Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts plays host every year to the Reno Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Fall Concert. 

Hartley, Jobe, Zabell, and Mullings

Team Nordic

Here's another Skyler Mullings' photo essay, the subject this time being Team Nordic's conditioning trip to Marin Headlands. Click on the photo below to visit the Picasa slide show...

Team Nordic at Marin Headlands

Team Freeride Returns from Mammoth

Team Freeride was spotted on the slopes at Sugar Bowl today, but here's a look back at the team's training trip to Mammoth (photos by Skyler Mullings). Click on the image to visit the Picasa slide show.
Team FreeRide in Mammoth 2012

FasterSkier.com Covers SBA

FasterSkier.com, the definitive on-line source for all things Nordic, cast a spotlight on Sugar Bowl Academy and Royal Gorge today. Click HERE to read the good news for Sugar Bowl Academy's Nordic ski racers. 

Scene on Campus Pic of the Day

SBA eighth-grader Ian Scott displays his model of the Oxygen atom...

Scene on Campus Pic of the Day

Jack Knorpp and Augie DeRyk are fully focused on academics on our last day of school before Colorado Camp and the big Thanksgiving break. 

Forgotten Footage

Here is some forgotten footage from our first big snow day, featuring SBSTF Executive Director Bill Hudson on the snow plow...

Fell Festival on the Small Screen

Fall Festival and Spirit Week 2012 will probably best be remembered for Marc Talbott's triumph in the pie-eating contest, but there were a lot of memories made last week at SBA. Thank you to Student Council for planning and executing a fun and memorable Fall Festival!

Scene on Campus Pic of the Day

A small-school education means teaching faculty that are always there for you. 

Scene on Campus Pic of the Day

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde came to the SBA campus on Halloween this year...

Love of School and Country on Display at "Gaper Day"

Day Two of Spirit Week was dubbed "Gaper Day" and featured our annual Fall Festival events (stay tuned for the iMovie production). Judging by the face paint and attire of Vermont's Elise Hardy ('14) today, she is one country-and-school-loving Fighting Marmot! 

Where's the Beach?

Spirit Week 2012 got under way today with Beach Day. Below, Chuck Klein surfs the Net in his best beach bum attire.

Dodgeball with Daron Rahlves

Daron Rahlves stopped in at All School Meeting Friday to bring the trophy home for SBA Dodgeball teammates Devin Gill, Chuck Klein, Riley Plant, and Augie DeRyk. The team recently won a tournament to support High Fives Foundation (Click HERE to learn more about High Fives). Go Fighting Marmots!

Structures and Instructions: Bio Goes Hands On

Julia Shray and Domenic Salvo
Biology students were tasked this week with building a small block structure, then articulating to a partner the procedures to be followed to replicate the structure. 

Following the verbal instruction phase, students then evaluated what had worked and what had not in the process, then collaborated in drafting a clear, written set of instructions that would allow a reader to easily replicate one of the building block structures they had designed.

Sinead Danagher gives instructions to Casey Jobe (not pictured)

Scene on Campus Pic of the Day

Trips program groups have begun meeting to organize and to allow for student-athlete input into these experiential learning opportunities. Click HERE to learn more about our Inaugural Trips Program. 

Andy Knox and Andy Giordano will be co-leading a coastal scuba-diving trip. Below, Andy and Andy confer with their group. 

Spotlight on Advisory, Part 2

Did you ever think you might have an opportunity to learn fencing ... at a ski academy?

That's precisely what happened yesterday in one SBA advisory group (click HERE to learn more about SBA advisory and to see Part 1). Seen here, Head Nordic Coach Jeff Schloss spars with student-athletes. 

Spotlight on Advisory, Part 1

SBA's advisory program is designed with a variety of goals in mind, serving variously as a system of support for the whole child outside of the traditional classroom setting, as an environment conducive to introspection and goal setting, and as a place where our student-athletes can explore and reflect as an intellectual exercise on how a simple theme can connect life's experiences.

And, often, it's just plain fun! Here, the older boys' and girls' advisory groups get together to take some ballroom dance lessons from Nordic Coach Martin Benes. 

All About the Snow

Steve Ascher hands Camille Hartley
the Snow Pool Snowball Trophy
For about a decade now, math/science teacher/meteorologist Steve Ascher has hosted a Snow Pool to predict the first day of snow on campus. Today, Camille Hartley received the coveted snowball trophy for correctly calling our first day of snow.

"I feel psychic," said Hartley.

Fortuitously, Janet Hardy (mother of SBA's Elise, '14), manager of the U.S. Army's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, was on campus today to talk to our student-athletes about how a love for skiing and snow put her on the career path that led her to study snow and ice for the U.S. government at its Hanover, N.H. laboratory.

Hardy showed students satellite images of polar ice melt and discussed how students can find gainful employment by pursuing their passions. Her presentation came about thanks in part to a student-led effort to create a guest-speaker series on campus. Senior Brian Francis worked with Hardy and campus administrators to bring about a presentation which would coincide with a planned visit to campus. On behalf of the entire SBA community, The Fighting Marmot thanks Mrs. Hardy for her fascinating presentation.

Janet Hardy addresses the student-athlete body at All School Meeting today

"Becoming Self-Sufficient Women"

SBA's advisory program will be highlighted in a fall newsletter piece, but here's a taste of the non-traditional curriculum that advisory affords the SBA student athlete. Alpine ski coach Nate Fisher made a guest appearance at this week's 11/12th-grade girls' advisory session. His lessons: how to change a flat tire, check the oil, change the wiper blades or a headlight, and jump start a car. "Our girls are becoming self-sufficient women right before our eyes," said advisor Kelly Farrell. 

Learning Hands-On in Blackwood Canyon

A focal point of SBA teaching and learning is, increasingly, engaging all the senses through hands-on experience.

With the addition this year of our trips program (click HERE if you missed my previous post on the subject) and field experiences such as the recent Tahoe Basin Watershed Education Summit, experiential learning is emerging as a hallmark of the SBA academic experience.

Seven SBA student-athletes camped three nights at Blackwood Canyon from Oct. 3rd-6th, conducting an extensive watershed assessment in support of the US Forest Service's efforts to restore this sensitive and important ecosystem.

Thank you to SBA tenth-grader Sam Zabell for the following report of his experience in Blackwood Canyon!

Sam Zabell in his TBWES tee-shirt
"The Tahoe Basin Watershed Education Summit was a great experience. It provided us with the opportunity to talk with experts in the fields of hydrology, geology, ornithology, as well as scientists from the Tahoe-Baikal Institute. We were able to use high-tech, professional instruments to take measurements of real data through streambed cross sections and do engaging fieldwork. By participating in this summit, I was exposed to a wide array of sciences and jobs in the field... It has left me with a greater understanding of water sciences and how watersheds function."
Biology teacher Andy Giordano offered the following retrospective of the experience: "Our students had an awesome time, learned a bunch and impressed the other adults that were there. I think we made some very positive connections to the Basin educational and environmental communities and showed some folks just how incredible our students can be."

Click HERE to learn more about the TBWES and HERE to view Andy Giordano's slide show from the field.