Enrollment up at local private schools
Although the Park City School District enrolls more than 4,300 students, hundreds of local kids attend one of the area’s private schools. Enrollment is up at four of the area’s largest. Soaring Wings Located in the Park City Library, Soaring Wings Montessori School boasts a head count of 120 students. The school is full for this year, but enrollment is underway for next year, said Bruce King, the school administrator. The school only accepts children who will be age 3 or under as of Sept. 1, 2006, even though there are Soaring Wings students up to grade five. "When openings come up at the upper levels, they’re filled by students coming up. We just start kids as toddlers and they keep feeding the upper levels," King said. Everything in Soaring Wings classes is sized for children, from chairs and desks to brooms and cups, following the Montessori mantra of child-centered classrooms, rather than adult-centered. This year Soaring Wings has gone completely wireless and has no phone lines. The main school number is King’s cell phone, the parent-teacher hotline is his wife’s, Duna Strachan. "We don’t use faxes any more, we do everything as email, it’s pretty cool," King said. The Colby School The Colby School student population is 134, up from 110 last year. This is the eighth year the school has been open and operations are "stabilizing," said headmaster Amy Davies. "We’ve probably worked out all the kinks," she said, also crediting her faculty for the increase in students. The big change at Colby this year is the construction of a greenhouse. The school won a $10,500 grant over the summer from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Association of Counties and the Wildlife Habitat Council. In the greenhouse, students will grow organic produce tomatoes, pumpkins, and other vegetables vulnerable to frost and perform science experiments. The greenhouse will be available to other school and community groups in the area, Davies said. "We’re not just going to keep it only for Colby kids." Davies is optimistic that the greenhouse will be finished before winter. The frame is up and "We need a non-windy day to finish," she added. In April, the Colby School will be evaluated by the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools. "It is essentially the measure of a quality a school for an independent school," Davies said. "That’s a lot of growth and a big step for a young, small school to take."
Park City Academy The biggest change at the parochial Park City Academy this year is its new headmaster. Steve Diehl had major back surgery earlier this year which isn’t healing as quickly as expected, said John Gutman, the interim headmaster. "He has departed and he’s not planning on coming back," Gutman said, noting, "He’s a good man." Gutman had served as head of the academy’s middle school, and helped Diehl as assistant headmaster over the summer. Park City Academy has grown somewhat since last year, about 12 students beyond last year’s 129, Gutman said. "I think there’s been some word of mouth with parents and kids," Gutman said. "There’s a certain degree of parent satisfaction with staff and how we’re challenging kids." The benchmark Park City Academy uses for its parent satisfaction is the retention of students from fifth- to sixth-grade, Gutman said. The middle-school years are a time when many local private-school families decide to switch to the public system. But this year, the academy retained all of its fifth-grade class. The academy has 12 eighth-graders, and the goal is to add a ninth-grade next year, Gutman said, so the school will match the grade-realigned Treasure Mountain International School. The academy participates in the Wasatch Athletic Conference, consisting of 11 private schools in the Wasatch Front. This week the middle-school students are in Cedar City for the Shakespeare Festival, where they will see "All’s Well that Ends Well." Later this year, the students will perform it. The Winter Sports School While most schools are only a couple months into the new year, the Winter Sports School’s calendar is about to wind down. Graduation is planned for Nov. 18 at the school, which will send 22 seniors into the world this year. The Winter Sports School’s schedule runs from April to November, giving students the winter off instead of the summer to focus on the athletics. Most are winter athletes, but the school’s student body also includes bikers, tennis players and golfers, said headmaster Rob Clayton. Clayton says his favorite part about running the school is "the quality of the students involved with the program, they’re great kids. They’re exceptional." The sports school is at maximum capacity this year with 62 enrolled. Facilities at the Utah Olympic Park don’t allow for any growth, Clayton said. "Hopefully we’ll duplicate that," Clayton said, and he is optimistic the school will, as he says he has more applications for next year than he’s ever had before. "It’s kind of nice."
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Hotel occupancy in the Park City area during Sundance is projected to drop dramatically from a typical year as organizers shift the event online.