Snowy Peaks Students Thrive in Project-Based Classroom, Complete Sailboat Project

Joss Quarantillo, left, and Miles Vaille look at their finished sailboat during the Snowy Peak celebration for the completed project on Wednesday, June 1. The two students were part of the school’s project-based learning class and helped restore the wooden boat over the past two school years, learning many valuable skills in the process.
Joel Wexler/For the Daily News Summit

Snowy Peaks Junior and Senior High School provides a unique learning opportunity for students attending the school. The school, located off School Road in Frisco, prides itself on providing a learning experience that is not only student-centered, but also individualized.

“We are a relationship-based education with a social and emotional focus,” Principal Jim Smith said. “We don’t call it a team. They join the Yeti family. Nothing works until we start with deep connections and relationships.

This type of tailored program offers a plethora of opportunities that students may miss when attending a traditional school. At Snowy Peaks, teachers focus on a blended learning curriculum that focuses on all aspects of the child, including academics, character, community, and nature.

This co-ed school program was posted at the end of the 2022 school year when students in Garrett Regner’s first and second grade project-based learning class finished repairing an old wooden sailboat.

“It’s a project-based class, so we start with projects. Kids learn all the skills from projects that interest them,” Regner said. “We have a few sailors at school, so I picked the boat up on Craigslist.”

Miles Vaille, left, Garrett Regner and Joss Quarantillo stand in front of the sailboat they repaired as part of Snowy Peak’s project-based learning class. The students have spent the past two years on the project and plan to take the boat on its maiden voyage in the near future.
Joel Wexler/For the Daily News Summit

The project took the class two consecutive school years. The wooden sailboat’s hull was in poor condition when the class started working on it last year. The class basically had to do everything to get the boat ready to sail.

“When we got the boat, we started with a bare haul with nothing,” student Joss Quarantillo said. “We built it all.”

“We did everything,” Regner said. “We redid the stern. We redid the bridge, removed it, did all the framing.

The rigging inside the finished sailboat from Snowy Peak. The project was part of the school’s project-based learning class that included freshmen and sophomores. The project took the last two years to complete.
Joel Wexler/For the Daily News Summit

The class, including Quarantillo and Miles Vaille, learned several valuable skills throughout the project, including carpentry, sewing, rigging, trigonometry, fiberglass, and epoxy skills.

Quarantillo and Vaille also feel like the project taught them problem-solving and design skills.

“We really had no plan. We were leaving some pictures we had of someone else,” Quarantillo said. “I say the hardest part was designing everything because we had so little to do.

Quarantillo had worked with boats before, but the sailboat project was his first time working with a wooden hull.

“I had a lot of skills before. I own a few boats, but they’re all fiberglass,” Quarantillo said. “You have to be much more careful with what you do. Wood is less forgiving.

The finished product of a two-year project at Snowy Peaks Junior and Senior High School in Frisco. Students in the project-based learning class spent two years repairing the sailboat and learned valuable life skills.
Joel Wexler/For the Daily News Summit

Regner planned to launch the boat for the first time on Wednesday, June 1, but the promise of overnight snow quashed that plan, pushing the ship‘s maiden voyage to a later date, to be determined.

Wanting to see how the ship is sailing after countless hours of hard work, Quarantillo, Vaille, and Regner promise that they will launch the ship as soon as they get the chance.

Regner isn’t sure what the class will do next year, as it can be difficult to successfully fix a sailboat. Quarantillo and Vaille already have a few ideas, including cedar paddle boards.

Although the project is no more than a fully repaired sailboat, the two students like the idea because of the involvement of the project and the way it allows them to continue learning new skills.


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