Sports School prepares to open books | ParkRecord.com

Sports School prepares to open books

Megan Yeiter , The Park Record

The Winter Sports School is preparing to kick off another academic school year. During the winter, which serves as the school’s academic break, alumni athletes and current students were able to capture 15 World Cup trophies, according to the Winter Sports School Headmaster Rob Clayton, who said they earned more accolades than any other school of its kind.

With enrollment numbers on track, Clayton said the school expects to have between 50 and 55 students again this year. Classes are scheduled to begin on April 16, with art and history courses offered during the first six-week block.

"We work with the Kimball Art Center and use some of their studios for our art courses. Half of the day is spent doing art and half of the day is spent doing history," Clayton said, adding that core curriculum classes, including math, science, English and foreign language are introduced in June and last through the end of the school year in November.

The unique curriculum allows elite winter sports athletes to compete during the traditional school year without falling behind in core classes. Offering classes such as science for 1.5 hours a day instead of three hours has proven to give the students a better understanding of the subject, Clayton said.

Sarah Hendrickson, a Nordic ski jumper who competes for the U.S. Ski Team, will be a senior at The Winter Sports School this year. She transferred from the Park City High School last June, and was able to keep on track with earning high school credits to graduate. According to Hendrickson, attending school in the off-season has been beneficial both athletically and academically.

"I went to the high school my sophomore year and I didn’t get to travel as much because I couldn’t miss that much school," she said. "Whenever I was traveling I was focusing on school work and whenever I was at school I was missing out on ski jumping."

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This year, Hendrickson won nine World Cup races in ski jumping and earned the World Cup title overall by the end of the season. Focusing solely on her respective sport and keeping academics separate allowed her to succeed.

"It was a huge privilege to concentrate on jumping every day without working on school work or worrying about emailing teachers and getting homework done," she said, "I think the results showed that."

Almost half of the school’s students will be seniors this year. Everyone in the graduating class is a dedicated athlete, which makes it a close-knit group, Hendrickson said.

"I don’t think I’ve ever been excited to start school as much as I am this year, just with it being senior year and then everyone is so close and we always have fun while we’re at school."

Hendrickson said after a successful season on the slopes, she plans to hold off from furthering her education for a year or two before attending college. Her more pressing goal is to make the U.S. Olympic ski jumping team.