Steamboat’s Lowell Whiteman students reflect on opportunities before graduation | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat’s Lowell Whiteman students reflect on opportunities before graduation

Jack Weinstein

Phillip Bishop hugs Trenia Sanford, technology director at The Lowell Whiteman School, during Thursday's graduation rehearsal. Today's ceremony is at 2 p.m.

— Walt Daub described the offerings at The Lowell White­man School as an experience.

The head of the school tucked away in the woods off Strawberry Park Road said that experience includes experiential education, a competitive skiing and snowboarding program and a foreign travel program.

Daub, who is retiring at the end of this school year, said it's his goal that all students take advantage of each and every opportunity the school offers. He said the Class of 2010 did.

"They've embraced the whole experience," Daub said.

The Class of 2010 — 24 students, 16 of whom attended the school all four years — will graduate during a commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. Friday.

Several seniors reflected Thursday about their time at Whiteman.

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"I don't think any other high school in the U.S. or the world is like Whiteman," said senior Molly Newman, who will attend the University of New Hampshire next year for Nordic skiing. "We got chances that not many other kids got to experience."

The seniors all had different examples about how the Whiteman experience affected them.

Senior Christine Wolfe, who will attend Harvard University on a full-ride scholarship, said Whiteman was where she learned to have passion for the things she enjoys, such as academics. But she said what defined her experience were the trips to Russia, Senegal, Vietnam, Cambodia and India as part of the school's foreign travel program.

"As cliché as this sounds, it really has changed my life and the way I look at myself," Wolfe said.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Al­pine racer Anna Marno, who will continue next year as a member of the U.S. Ski Team's development squad, said she missed a lot of school during her time at Whiteman. She would make it up in the spring, when the students who didn't ski were participating in the foreign travel program. Marno said she's not sure she could have done that anywhere else.

"Looking back on my four years, I hope everyone realizes how lucky we were to go to school here," she said. "Some have left to go to the public school; other kids have been here the whole time. I'm so glad I have been here all four years to experience it every day."

In addition to traveling and skiing, the students kept coming back to relationships they have with each other and with the faculty. Senior Shane McLean, who will defer college for a year to continue skiing, called the school a community. The seniors said those relationships were a big part of their Whiteman experience.

Meg Morse, Whiteman's college counselor, said the 24 seniors earned $1.8 million in scholarships for their four-year educations. She said of the 24, a foreign exchange student is returning home to Holland, two will attend Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus and 18 will attend four-year colleges or universities.

Morse said the remaining three, including McLean and Marno, have deferred their college plans for at least a year to pursue their skiing careers.

"They've been amazingly full of life, full of direction and purpose," Morse said. "It's been one of those classes that's excited about the next step in their lives. It's been really fun to work with them because of that."

The seniors culminate the Whiteman experience after their names have been read and they walk across the stage to get their diplomas. Daub said the experience ends with a speech about each of students, from a teacher of their choosing.

But the students said the experience doesn't end. They'll come back. They'll stay connected to one other. They'll keep in contact with teachers. They said Whiteman is a family.

"I do definitely feel really close to so many people here," Wolfe said. "I'll miss them a lot. But I know we'll keep in touch because of that bond."