Located at Lake Tahoe, California, Sugar Bowl Academy is a fully accredited college preparatory high school for competitive skiers. It's a world-class ski academy for Alpine, Nordic and Freeride athletes.

A rigorous academic experience.

The Highest Academic Standards

At Sugar Bowl Academy, you will be expected to adhere to the highest academic performance standards.

You must maintain a minimum GPA of 2.00 to continue enrollment, and complete your entire senior year to graduate. Only grades earned at the Academy are included in your GPA calculation. All credits earned at other institutions are shown on your transcript.

Course Load and Schedule

Freshmen and sophomores are expected to take a course load of at least 18 units (one unit is equivalent to one course in one trimester), and are expected to complete Visual/Performing Arts and Health requirements. Juniors must take at least 15 units. Seniors must take at least 12 units in addition to completing a senior project.

Sugar Bowl Academy follows a trimester based school calendar. The trimester term dates for the 2017-2018 school year are:

  • Fall Trimester: September 5-November 10
  • Winter Trimester: November 27-March 23
  • Spring Trimester: March 26-June 15

Classes meet four times per week for 50-minute periods in the fall and spring trimesters, and three times a week for 55-minute periods in the winter trimester.

See our Fall 2017 Schedule.

Graduation Requirements

The minimum number of units required for graduation exceeds the minimum entrance requirements for the University of California system and fulfills the NCAA core curriculum requirements for freshman eligibility. The recommended units reflect what is expected by most selective colleges and universities.

Department Minimum Recommended
English 12 units (4 full years)
Mathematics 9 units (3 full years) 12 units
Science 9 units (3 full years) 12 units
Social Science 9 units (3 full years) 12 units
Foreign Language 9 units (3 full years) 12 units
Visual and Performing Arts 3 units (3 full years) 6 units
Health and Wellness 1 unit (1 trimester)
Senior Project 3 units (1 full year)
Physical Education 3 units for each year enrolled at SBA
Experiential Education 1 unit for each year enrolled at SBA

English Courses

The eighth grade English curriculum examines a variety of texts, primarily focusing on American literature, that aim to challenge and prepare students for work they will encounter in high school. In conjunction with the eighth grade history curriculum, the works students analyze are selected due to their reflection of past events and influence on contemporary culture and perspectives in a diverse society. This course provides students with: ample practice and instruction in a variety of written forms, the revision process, reading comprehension, fundamentals of vocabulary, and Standard English grammar. Students are immersed in the themes of cultural beginnings, the American Dream, and finding one’s voice, Students read Native American creation myths and trickster tales, Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, and Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Patillo Beals. Additionally, in conjunction with Sugar Bowl Academy’s dedication to teaching Shakespeare, students read A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare.

This course is designed to examine the early development of literature and reasons why cultures develop a body of literature. Students study classical works of ancient writers who have helped shaped ancient (and therefore contemporary) cultures through literary works that have withstood the test of time. Students are immersed in the mythology, folklore, drama, and epic poetry that have remained relevant for thousands of years and continue to influence cultures around the world today. Another primary focus of this course is to provide a strong foundation in the fundamentals of vocabulary, Standard English grammar, and composition. Students delve into the themes of Principle Myths, Epics, Heroes, and Legends through J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, selections from The Iliad, T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee, Steinbeck’s The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights, and William Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

This course highlights the literature produced in Britain and the British Isles from the time of the Elizabethans to contemporary British literature. The main goals of the class are to enhance students’ appreciation for literature and to build students’ reading comprehension, critical analysis, and writing skills. Students study the larger cultural and philosophical contexts of the literature presented through the themes of Gothic literature, Adventure literature, society and the self, utopian ideals seen through the dystopia, and the role of identity. Students read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Ayn Rand’s Anthem, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, Joe Simpson’s Touching The Void, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, and Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

This course is designed to look critically at the development of American Literature. Students marinate in the works of culturally prominent and lesser-known authors to draw connections between important historical time periods and literary movements that have shaped the current American identity. The students’ pursuit is to develop the critical reading, writing, and inquiry skills needed to answer the overall Essential Questions: What defines American Literature? What role does literature have in shaping a culture? Each focus unit will contain sub-essential questions as related to the material presented in an attempt to answer these larger questions while focusing on specific reading and writing skills. Topical elements include Puritan American and the Age of Faith, Revolutionary America, Transcendentalism and the American Renaissance, The Harlem Renaissance, and Contemporary America. Students read The Crucible by Arthur Miller, Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God by Jonathan Edwards, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” “Rip Van Winkle,” “Peter Rugg: Missing Man” essays and poetry by Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Poe, Hawthorne and Dickinson, the slave narratives 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriett Jacobs, and Mark Twain’s commentary on slavery and Reconstruction in Pudd’nhead Wilson, and The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. In the final unit of the year, students choose a contemporary novel to focus from the 21st century in preparation for their Junior Project. Texts students have chosen in the past include: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Things They Carried, Cat’s Cradle, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, The New Jim Crow, and A Civil Action.

In World Literature, students sample outstanding works of literature from around the globe, throughout modern times, and across many diverse cultures. In exploring these various cultures and places,  students encounter and learn from new ways of thinking, writing, and storytelling. Still, given a limited quantity of time, depth of study will be more valued than breadth, as we delve deep into the context of the stories and the backgrounds of their authors. Ultimately, we will ask how modern American readers can relate to literature that is, physically at least, wholly disconnected from a contemporary day-to-day experience. Students are immersed in the themes of culture clashes, literature of the oppressed, and the cradle of Literature through Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold, Haruki Murakami’s The Elephant Vanishes, Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, Emily Brönte’s Wuthering Heights, and Shakespeare’s King Lear.

Language (Spanish) Courses

Sugar Bowl Academy’s Spanish 1 program introduces students to the fundamentals of the Spanish language and is focused deliberately on depth and breadth of expression in the present tense, with some exposure as well to the preterit tense. Readings, music, films, and short videos in the target language provide regular exposure to the different accents, geography, and history of Spanish-speaking countries and expand on themes presented in the textbook. Upon completion of this course, students have developed strong listening comprehension skills and are able to communicate effectively about a variety of high frequency conversation topics, including likes and dislikes, school activities and courses, pastimes, weather, family, etc. Dynamic project-based learning is an important focus, and students are regularly asked to show their mastery of pronunciation, vocabulary, and structure through creative writing “audio book” projects on the iPad app “Book Creator” as well as through multimedia film production linking images and audio on various iPad apps including Explain Everything and iMovie. Students are required to deliver regular oral presentations in the target language.

Spanish 2 focuses on expanding listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills. The course frequently uses videos, images, audio, and text to provide contextualization of key learning concepts and cultural information relevant to Spanish-speaking communities both here and abroad. This course emphasizes authentic input in order to help students produce written and spoken Spanish. While the course includes some traditional assessment, students are given many projects and tasks that allow them to work collaboratively and creatively to make presentations using their newly acquired language skills.

Sugar Bowl Academy’s Spanish 3 program provides accelerated vocabulary and fluency development and tackles many of the more complex structures of the Spanish language, including uses of the preterit and imperfect as well as the present subjunctive and all perfect tenses. Development of circumlocution skills is a focal point, with students regularly and increasingly asked to supply Spanish-Spanish definitions of new vocabulary rather than Spanish-English. Readings, music, films, and videos in the target language provide regular exposure to the different accents, geography, and history of Spanish-speaking countries and expand on themes presented in the textbook. Upon completion of this course, students have refined their listening comprehension skills and are able to communicate effectively and with measurable progress in fluency about a variety of topics using a variety of complex verb tenses and sentence structures. Dynamic project-based learning is an important focus, and students are regularly asked to show their mastery of pronunciation, vocabulary, and structure through creative writing “audio book” projects on the iPad app “Book Creator” as well as through multimedia film production linking images and audio on the iPad app “iMovie.” Students are regularly required to deliver oral presentations in the target language and to demonstrate their ability to express themselves in writing through regular timed write assessments focused on thorough and sophisticated syntheses of readings, podcasts, news reports, etc.

The goal of Spanish 4 is to improve all aspects of students’ Spanish language skills through the use of authentic films from the Spanish-speaking world.  A particular emphasis is placed on oral comprehension and conversation. Students also work explicitly on public speaking skills. The films are used as a catalyst for discussion and reflection on the history, politics and culture of specific regions and time periods. Students broaden their vocabulary, revisit challenging grammar concepts, and generally broaden their knowledge of the diversity of cultures throughout various regions of Latin America.

Taught completely in Spanish, this course is designed for students who have completed four years or the equivalent of high school Spanish. Students taking this course should have a solid foundation and desire to focus on improving all areas of their communication skills including listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  While there is some grammatical review, with special attention paid to problematic areas, the focus of the course is authentic communication around engaging themes. Through the use of cinema, podcasts, literary readings, and news media, students advance their linguistic abilities while deepening their understanding of native Spanish speaking communities both here and abroad.  Secondary Resources include: Notes in Spanish Podcasts (Intermediate & Advanced); Conversación y Controversia, Iorillo, Díaz, Hale; Abriendo Paso (Gramática, largely for reference and occasional activities); Cinema for Spanish Conversation, Mary McVey Gill, Deana Smalley, María-Paz Haro; Yabla (extra listening comprehension practice); BBC Mundo (current events).

Mathematics Courses

In this introductory math course, students expand their math knowledge by studying basic algebraic concepts such as variables and functions.  Students learn the importance of algebra as the basic language of science, everyday uses of algebraic skills, and problem solving skills.  Upon successful completion of this course, students will be prepared to move on to geometry or algebra II.  Topics studied include: fundamental algebraic concepts, functions, inequalities, and complex numbers, and manipulating complex functions.

This course is a comprehensive study of the figures and spatial relationships that students have studied during their entire academic career.  Now in high school, students unpack the knowledge surrounding points, lines, planes, angles and figures such as triangles, polygons, circles and spheres.  Students develop a knowledge base of logical reasons that they learn to present in a new, linear fashion as they become comfortable verbalizing reasoning skills mathematically.  As communication skills improve, students become fluent in presenting complex geometric ideas and are able to transfer these skills throughout their mathematical career and beyond.  Students learn the properties of right triangles, trigonometry and the Pythagorean theorem.  Concepts of complex figures (circles, spheres, cones, pyramids, cylinders, etc.) round out the experience in this course.

Algebra II is the second course in SBA’s high school math curriculum. Students build on all the skills introduced in Algebra I and on many skills introduced in Geometry. In this course, students encounter function notation and use it to explore several different figures (mostly conic sections) in the coordinate plane. Additionally, students learn logarithmic form and its relationship to exponents, reinforce basic probability skills, solve complex systems of equations, and analyze sequences and series in numbers. Each of these topics is presented with an eye towards real world application of math skills and is taught in a fashion that allows students to uncover many of the patterns and processes in math through exploration. As students navigate their education in the mathematics, this course provides the bridge to understanding the foundations of calculus and the dynamic figures and functions explored therein.

This class prepares students with the mathematics necessary for success in Calculus. Course material includes polynomial and rational functions, exponential and logarithmic functions, trigonometric functions, vectors, rectangular and polar coordinates.

The AP Calculus course at SBA is designed to prepare students for the Calculus AB Advanced Placement Exam and is equivalent to a first-year college course. Topics covered include all material as listed in the AP Calculus Course Description, with particular emphasis upon recurring concepts that appear in different contexts throughout the year (the Chain Rule, for example). Underlying concepts, rather than simple rote memorization of formulas, are stressed, in the desire for students to understand the “big picture” alongside the mechanical processing that goes into formula substitution. While the primary goal of this course is success on the AP exam, concepts from prior math courses are continually reinforced.

Global Statistics is a team taught course that combines the context of Human Geography with the analytical power of statistics. Students start the year exploring solutions to poverty and famine in Bangladesh using geography and the tool R, a statistical computer language used for data exploration and visualization. The course continues onto the landscape of education in the U.S. Using R, students create visual representations of data about educational outcomes and how they relate with a variety of variables. Finally, students look at the surrounding Truckee region and choose a local issue that student explore experimental/survey design to take a stand on an issue faced by the community. Each unit builds on the previous, leading to a rich context for understanding our own community through geography and statistics. The aim of this class is to offer students an applied math class that highlights the application of mathematical skills to solving real world geographical problems.

Science & Technology Courses

In this introductory science course, students explore the basics concepts of physical science. Students are exposed to the history and nature of science. Additionally, students are introduced to the sciences of Chemistry, Physics, and Earth and Space Science. Basic algebraic math skills are integrated into each section. Finally, students gain understanding of how physical science concepts are involved in their everyday life.

Biology is the study of life: a unifying and simple statement that guides the high school biology course offering at Sugar Bowl Academy.  This course is designed to expose students to many broad and disparate topics in biology while maintaining the interdependence of these themes.  Units are organized so that each supports the next and builds upon it hierarchically.  Several labs, small activities, and case studies support each unit and reveals the practical applications beyond lecture material and help students hone their physical lab techniques, analytical skills, writing, and speaking methods.  Students study the topics of The Nature of Science, Chemistry of Life, Ecology, Cellular Biology, Genetics, Evolution, Animal systems, and Physiology.

This is an introductory course in the theories and concepts of chemistry. Students focus on the properties of matter, atomic structure, periodic properties, ions, molecules and bonding, molecular/ionic naming, chemical reactions, acid-base reactions, and oxidation-reduction reactions. Students are introduced to Stoichiometry, quantum mechanics, dimensional analysis and carbon compounds. The laboratory component to chemistry teaches students basic lab techniques while reinforcing chemical principles, revealing connections in the course content, and exciting the spark of learning in the student. Students encounter Matter and change, Electrons, The Periodic Table, Bonding, Chemical Reactions, Stoichiometry, States of matter, and Thermochemistry, among others.

This introductory course in the foundations of physics emphasizes the development of an intuitive understanding of physics principles as well as problem solving with the use of mathematics and the integration of technology. Laboratory work helps students develop reasoning power and the ability to apply physics principles while acquainting them with sound laboratory technique. Students engage with linear and non-linear motion and waves, electricity, and magnetism.

Earth and Space Science is a college preparatory lab science that explores the interconnected dynamics of the Earth, its processes, and its place in the universe. Through hands-on investigations, experimental design, and simulations, students will apply their knowledge in chemistry, math and the physical sciences to explore concepts in astronomy, geology, oceanography, and meteorology/climatology. Students will engage in discussions about geochemical cycles and processes that have shaped the planet Earth including: the interactions between the major spheres, plate-tectonics, natural resources and hazards, and the affect humans and technology can have on the natural balance. Students will apply this knowledge to current research trends such as in the search for life on other planets inside and outside our solar system, and what might be required to sustain life on them. Students will engage as scientists, utilizing their problem-solving skills  to perform inquiry-based experiments, analyze and interpret data with the appropriate tools, evaluate and communicate information and engineer solutions to scientific problems and challenges.

This course is an introduction to and overview of the science of astronomy. We will explore the large and small scale structures of the cosmos such as stars, planets, galaxies, and galaxy clusters, and how they evolve.

This course is an introduction to the language of computers. Students begin with a simple programming environment designed by MIT called scratch and move into JavaScript to program a game similar to slither.io.

This class is a required health education course that provides students with accurate information they can utilize to develop healthy attitudes and behavior patterns. Critical thinking and decision making skills are taught and practiced throughout the course. Topics covered include: personal and social health, human growth and development, nutrition and fitness, substance use, and personal goals and direction, and personal effect on society. The subject content is explored in relation to how teenagers can make healthy decisions, live an active lifestyle, and reduce personal risks that may be presented to them in the upcoming years. Students study Personal and Social Health, Chemicals and Substances, and Human Growth, Development and Sexuality.

Social Science Courses

In the 8th grade history course, students survey a broad scope of people, events, and issues in U.S. history from the pre-colonial period through the building tensions that preceded the Civil War. The goal of the class is to help students think critically about not only the history and structure of the United States, but also their place and role in a contemporary American landscape. Topics such as Native American studies, colonial beginnings, independence and the Constitution, the early American nation, shifting political and geographic landscape, and compromise amidst conflict introduce students to the excitement, fear, and confusion experienced by those who crafted early America.

This class covers major developments in world history from the end of the prehistoric era to 1500 A.D. Students experience the ideas, government systems, cultures, and social workings of classic Western civilizations (Greece and Rome), as well as societies and empires in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and Eastern Europe. Additionally, students analyze how various civilizations interacted and influenced each other through economic exchange, military conquest, and cultural assimilation.

This course is designed to introduce and revisit central events in America’s history. This course begins with European exploration of the Americas and early colonization in the 1600s and concludes with the major themes and events of the twentieth century. A core ambition of this course is to equip Sugar Bowl Academy students with the tools needed to critically examine the past and to participate as informed citizens in a democratic society. Themes students encounter include Foundations of U.S. History in the 18th century, The Clash of Ideologies (19th Century), and Contemporary American Society (20th Century).

This exciting elective is an introduction to the Urban Geography of the United States. This trimester course will seek to provide context to the historical emergence and development of the American city. Students examine multiple case studies and seek to understand the current Back-to-the-Cities Movement that is taking place across the nation today. Course readings, discussions and inquiry projects aim to unpack issues of equity and inclusive urbanism when applied to the process of gentrification and New Urbanism.

Calling all elephants and donkeys! In this elective, students debate, research, and evaluate biases within the media surrounding the election for the 45th U.S. President - be in the know! This course is offered every four years in the fall in conjunction with the presidential election. Students emerge from this course with understanding of major tenets of each candidate’s platform and major tenets of how the democratic system in America works.

Visual & Performing Arts Courses

This class is an introductory foundations class that exposes students to several different mediums. Students will work with watercolor and acrylic paint as well as charcoal, pencil, and ink drawings.

Digital photography offers students the opportunity to advance their skills beyond camera basics over the course of a year. Creating high quality images from high quality subjects can be a difficult and low success venture for the average camera owner. Students in this course understand and use their digital camera to its highest potential. Instruction covers the universal parameters governing photography: composition, exposure, color and tone, light, etc. A high quality workflow for student photographers that can consistently take them from pre-visualization and image capture through to printing and presenting images in a professional way (previous students have participated in gallery shows and have started high quality websites to display their work). Students deal with largely natural lighting and outdoor subjects, so they must be prepared to be outside during the school day. A dSLR camera and a computer capable of running Adobe Lightroom is required for students in this course. Students gain competency in using Adobe Lightroom as a means to create images of artistic value.

The drama elective at Sugar Bowl Academy is designed to look critically at the historical development and applications of drama and the theatre. Within this class, “Theatre” refers to performance work, while “drama” refers to the elements used to explore emotions, thinking, and connection with an audience. Students should expect to look at connections between drama and the society that creates it – specifically at how drama relates to the culture, government, and mentality of a human collective at specific times throughout history. Students will take part in responding to visual, vocal, and physical sensory information to interpret, perform, and produce dramatic pieces. They will be exposed to a number of aspects of the theatre including the technical, historical, and production sides, and should expect to act, produce, and direct dramatic pieces individually and in concert with their peers for a variety of audiences. We will look at aspects of both such as the stage, scenery, characterization, script, performance, audience, and reflection that make up the art of theatrical performances. We will explore all of this through research, writing, acting, improvising, and creating drama with a focus on learning the basics while preparing for performance as well.


Advanced Placement (AP)

We'll encourage you to consider participating in Advanced Placement (AP) classes when they are offered and are appropriate. Participation in such classes shows your decision to be challenged by the most rigorous curriculum offered by the school. However, because of the skills necessary, admission to AP classes requires teacher permission and a formal application.

In order to enroll in an AP level course, you must have maintained an average of 90% or higher in the department's previous course (as determined at the time spring trimester progress report grades close) and receive the approval of your previous teacher (often through a formal application process). In the event that you average an 88% or 89% in your previous course and would still like to be considered for AP placement, you must submit in writing a petition to the AP teacher explaining why you should be considered for the course. This piece of writing must be submitted with the AP application.

If you're enrolled in an AP class, you are required to take the appropriate AP Exam in May, and should expect the academic load to be heavier and the grading to be more rigorous than in other courses. AP classes continue beyond the AP Exam date through the end of the school year. Subsequent work focuses on practical application of skills and content learned and is an integral part of your spring trimester grades.

Senior Project

As a prerequisite for graduation, all SBA seniors are required to complete a year-long senior project. The Senior Project program is designed to be the culminating experience of your academic experience at Sugar Bowl Academy and is a unique personal journey in which you'll gain an in-depth understanding of a particular subject area. You'll be required to write a 10-20 page research paper, present for 20-30 minutes before the entire school and document your experience through a portfolio. You may choose to create a product as a natural extension of your inquiry. You'll learn the skills of annotating a bibliography, outlining, sourcing and citing research, interviewing, surveying, working with mentors and more.

Past projects have covered a wide variety of topics, including:

  • White Supremacy in the United States — What key events throughout US History have created the existence of white supremacy and how are the repercussions seen today?
  • Strength Training for Cross Country Skiers — How does the manipulation of nutrition, exercises and periodization of a strength program help an endurance athlete perform physiologically at his or her best?
  • Entrepreneurship of Hard Goods — How can one capitalize on the different facets of entrepreneurship to start a successful hard goods business?
  • International Service Organizations — How can international service organizations support altruistic practices that result in sustainable community development?
  • The Supreme Court, Democracy, and Citizens United — How has the Supreme Court, through the Citizens United v. The Federal Election Commission decision, changed the political landscape of America, affected voters' opinions and set a standard of precedent in future elections?
  • Hip Hop and Social Justice — How can Hip Hop embrace themes of past Black music to effectively promote social change in the current era of legal discrimination?