Steamboat Mountain School graduates eager to apply learning to life

Matt Stensland

— Summer arrived just in time Saturday for Steamboat Mountain School’s class of 2015.

This year, SMS graduated nine seniors, who were eager to apply what they learned at the private school in the woods just north of Steamboat Springs.

“Today, I challenge us to keep pushing the boundaries in life,” class speaker William Silverman said.

Silverman competed in Alpine snowboarding while attending SMS and shared both the highlights and setbacks he faced. He won nationals and competed nationally, but had to refocus after suffering a concussion.

“As long as I don’t have another concussion, I will never forget the experiences I have shared with my classmates,” said Silverman, who is deferring enrollment at Hobart College in New York to compete in Alpine snowboarding.

SMS, formerly known at The Lowell Whiteman School, offers a unique learning experience for its students. Many of the students live at the school, and academics can be tailored around students who are pursuing competitive skiing or snowboarding.

Students who participate in the school’s Global Immersion Studies program have the opportunity to spend four months on four different continents.

2004 graduate Emily Kelley, who now practices law in Steamboat, returned to SMS on Saturday to give the commencement address.

“This school has equipped you for the next adventure, whatever that next adventure will be,” Kelley said.

Kelley told the students that nerds have more fun, and with their experiences at SMS, they should be accustomed to being out of their comfort zone.

“Crush it today, own it, then crush it for the weeks and months and years to come,” Kelley said.

During the quaint graduation ceremonies at SMS, faculty members give speeches about each of the students. At times, it is more like a roast as the teachers share humorous stories and talk about students coming out of their shells.

Teacher Tim Callahan spoke about Jiacong “Kyle” Wu, a Chinese student who assimilated to American style. Without Wu knowing, Callahan raided Wu’s closet and wore his flat-brimmed hat and jacket for the speech.

Callahan said Wu, who will be attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, was a great ambassador.

SMS dean of students and math teacher Brian Smith talked about “rancher/ski girl” Perri Meeks, who once had to dig a dead skunk out of a hay bail because she accidentally processed it while bailing hay.

“We’ve seen her laugh and cry, both of which happened many times in math class,” Smith said.

Meeks is deferring enrollment at Montana State University to compete in Alpine skiing.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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