Two years in, Picabo Street Academy expands to fit growing student population |

Two years in, Picabo Street Academy expands to fit growing student population

(Tanzi Propst/Park Record)
Tanzi Propst/The Park Record | The Park Record

When Picabo Street Academy first opened its doors to students, only two kids were enrolled. Two years later, the class size has grown exponentially, as well as the space to house the students.

The academy, located at 1762 Prospector Ave, recently expanded to include an upper floor so the 30 students the school now serves have more room to spread out and work in groups or one-on-one with teachers.

The school, which was started by former Olympian in downhill skiing Picabo Street, offers a non-traditional approach tailored to students who are highly involved in an extra-curricular activity that requires them to train or travel during the school day, said Michelle Demschar, co-founder of the school. The Picabo Street Academy uses a virtual curriculum that students can access wherever they go. Teachers are available at the school from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round to answer questions or explain concepts.

The school is gaining popularity, and enrollment has nearly doubled in the last year. Dan Kemp, head of the school, said the school needed more room to handle the growth. So when the tenant upstairs moved out, Street and Demschar jumped on the opportunity to expand. The second floor, like the main floor, is designed for students to spread out to either work individually or with teachers.

Kemp said the school can now better serve the students. To keep up with the demand, the school is also looking to hire more specialist teachers who can help students with their online homework.

The growth, Kemp said, is both “fantastic and scary.”

“You think to yourself, ‘We wanted this dream, we fought for it and now all the sudden we are tasked with really doing a great job,’” he said. “It’s a big task and we take it on with full, outstretched arms.”

Demschar said that it has been a lot of work to the meet the students’ needs, but helping students who were not excelling in regular schools because of their dedication to their sport pays off.

“We have a junior student who came to us with a 1.9 (grade-point average), and this week she got 27 college offers,” she said. “She came here as one of the students who was under the radar and with school, she hated it. Now, you can see her pride and she says, ‘I did this.’ It is incredibly gratifying.”

The academy is expected to have its first graduates in the spring, and Kemp said he hopes they are able to continue to grow the student body at a comfortable pace.

“Two years in we feel really good with where we are, and we will continue,” he said.

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