Steamboat Springs According to graduating seniors and teachers, small class size and a sense of family unity creates an ease of learning in private schools.
Ryan Kiely, graduating senior at Christian Heritage, said these aspects and the Christian influence have made for a difficult decision in leaving Steamboat and his friends.
"The small class sizes" are beneficial to public schools "and I enjoy the Christian influence of teachers and administrators," Kiely said. "You can tell the teachers have a genuine love for the students. They really get involved."
Although the Lowell Whiteman School does not offer a denominational regime, the outdoor-oriented boarding school education left Walker Pruett with a sense of independence and maturity.
"The best thing about the Whiteman School is it's so small, you get to know everyone there pretty well," Pruett said. "And with something like the foreign trip to travel you have to be responsible and know how to handle certain situations."
Janie Timmerman, the physical education, yearbook and journalism teacher at Christian Heritage, said having small class sizes has benefited her three children.
"It's the smallness and the individual attention in the classes," Timmerman said of what makes a private school like Christian Heritage so unique.
All eight of Christian Heritage's graduating seniors could be attending four-year colleges in California, Texas, Florida, Colorado and New Hampshire.
Timmerman attributes that success to the amount of one-on-one time students and teachers spend with each other and the concern that private schools have for its students.
"When you look into a biology class, there's only eight children," Timmerman said. "It really helps. Our kids are getting even more attention than they're getting at public schools."
Pruett said he plans on attending Bowdoin College in Maine because of its reputation as a small private college similar to Whiteman. Of the 26 Whiteman grads, Pruett said he thinks most are either attending college in the fall or staying in Steamboat to competitively ski.
Pruett said Whiteman sometimes strays from the traditional curriculum like one would find in public schools, but that's what makes the experience so unique.
"As far as academic work, Whiteman is pretty demanding," Pruett said. "Whiteman can stray from traditional education, but it's just to be able to not be constrained by what's traditional."
"I have a different belief system. I like going to the Christian school because it's built on an academic basis and a religious basis. It kind of infiltrated that," Kiely said.
Timmerman only had positive thoughts about the public schools in Steamboat and credited them with being so generous as to share their functions with private school students. Timmerman said about seven or eight years ago, the private schools fought the public school board to allow private school students participate in sports, drama and music programs.
Kiely said most of his friends go to the public school and he has a more of a sports bond with the students there than his friends at Christian Heritage.
"It was kind of hard sometimes. We have that common ground of sports," Kiely said.
While Kiely has built true friendships with students at the public school, whether merely sports-related or not, it's the feeling of closeness at Christian Heritage that makes it hard to leave.
Pruett has found friends in Whiteman that live all over the globe and said he knows the eccentric education has given him great opportunities to travel and experience the outdoors.
Although Kiely is eager to leave Steamboat, he's also excited about getting out and experiencing something bigger.
"We're accepted 100 percent," Timmerman said. "We have a lot of support from public schools, and they're just tickled that we're out here. There's a place for everybody."