Originally published in the Summit Daily on May 30, 2019. Read the original article here.
The Peak School in Frisco, Summit’s only private secondary school, will be seeing off the eight members of its 2019 graduating class Friday. The small class size is a hallmark of the prep school in the mountains, where curriculums are built around students who are given freedom to be themselves and pursue their dreams.
Students at Peak School come from a variety of backgrounds and tend to have unique circumstances requiring a different kind of education. Two of Peak’s graduates, Elli VanDeYacht and Cassidy Citron, benefited from Peak’s flexible approach to secondary education.
VanDeYacht has been figure skating for more than 14 years. The demands of her training schedule meant she had to find a school that could work around it while giving her a full education.
“I transitioned to a different coach in Vail, which meant I was driving over there five times a week in the mornings and afternoons,” VanDeYacht said. “School had to be flexible, both for me and Peak.”
While the flexible scheduling helped, VanDeYacht was responsible for being on top of the academic routine, which instilled a clockwork mentality and put her in more control of the direction of her education.
“Because of how demanding my schedule is, it meant I had to be thoroughly on top of my academics,” VanDeYacht said. “Peak allowed me to have more control over my schedule, but I was also talking to teachers and making sure I was getting my assignments and not missing important information. It made me a more proactive with academics.”
VanDeYacht is now a single U.S. Figure Skating gold medalist, which requires a grueling series of trials before passing the senior, or “gold” test, in one of several skating disciplines. She is one test away from becoming a double gold medalist, with an ambition to become a triple or quadruple gold medalist later on.
VanDeYacht also has played hockey with Summit Hockey as part of its under 19 women’s squad, although a history of concussions is making her reconsider whether it’s something she’d want to do competitively again.
As for her future, VanDeYacht will be attending and skating at the University of Denver, where she’s on the fence between pursuing psychology or business and accounting.
As for Citron, dancing has been her passion for 14 years. But for her, it wasn’t just Peak’s willingness to accommodate her dancing that made it the right fit.
“When I was in grade school, I was a little accelerated,” Citron said. “My parents decided to move me to Peak School in the sixth grade since it’s a school for people who were a little different, and I’ve been there ever since.”
After graduation, Citron will take a gap year before attending the University of Puget Sound in Washington state. She will spend the first half of the year working in Summit and the second half in a program doing service work and homestays in the Pacific Islands with Adventures Cross Country.
Citron is excited about the next chapter of her life and believes that Peak’s environment helped her get where she wants to go. She believes Peak is an ideal place for Summit kids like her, who have unique needs and need more room to thrive.
“Summit County has a lot of people who are just a little bit different; it’s the reason why they came up here,” Citron said. “Peak has a really nurturing environment that allows them to grow in any way they can.”