Winter Sports School grads shred into bright futures |

Winter Sports School grads shred into bright futures

Graduates say they will be defined by success

For Frances Carlisle, the moment was surreal.

Minutes before the Winter Sports School's graduating class of 2016 streamed into the auditorium at the Temple Har Shalom to receive their diplomas Friday, Carlisle was all smiles. Years of school and countless hours of classwork had finally paid off, and she and her fellow graduates were bubbling with energy.

"It's pretty crazy, honestly," she said. "I don't even know how to describe it. We're finally done. We've been looking forward to this since the first day of senior year. It's been quite the build-up."

The graduates were excited, but some expressed anxiety about the future and entering the real world, a sense that's palpable at most high school graduations. Still, others were confident, both in themselves and how the school had prepared them. Unlike a typical high school, The Winter Sports School requires that students be dedicated to both schoolwork and a sport.

It's a demanding obligation that forces students to shoulder additional responsibilities. Carlisle said the commitment nearly every student at the school has is apparent from the first day of school for each incoming class.

"It's very intense," said Carlisle, who will not pursue her sport of alpine skiing in college, but intends to study graphic design. "Everyone has amazing work ethic. Everyone is so smart and so dedicated to their schoolwork, just like they're dedicated to their sport."

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Ava Lewin, for one, is grateful to have been part of such an atmosphere. She said students must make a number of sacrifices at the Winter Sports School, which operates during the summer so students can participate in sports during the winter. But it's ultimately worth it.

"We put in a lot of hard work over the summer," said Lewin, who felt relieved to be graduating. "It's hard because all your other friends are doing fun things, and you're at school in the summer time. But it pays off in the winter, when you're actually doing your sport and you have that freedom."

It will also pay off when graduation day is just a distant memory and the reality of adult life sets in. Lewin said that spending years dedicated to a sport and schoolwork in a way few high schoolers outside of the school understand makes the graduates prepared for whatever will come next.

For some, that may be the Olympics. For others, it will be college, then a career. Some may have different plans altogether. Regardless, Lewin said their futures will be bright. The students are bonded together by the unique nature of their school, and the pressures they faced there. And years down the road, Lewin said, they will be bonded also by something else: success.

"I definitely think there's going to be a couple Olympians in this class," she said. "One or two of them are already pre-professional. But I think all of us are going to be very successful because we really care when we want to go for something. We strive for success. And that's an aspect that our class shares that I think is important."