SummerQuest completes 23rd year; Vail Mountain School program gives middle-schoolers a push toward excellence |

SummerQuest completes 23rd year; Vail Mountain School program gives middle-schoolers a push toward excellence

Seventh Grader Sofia Biadayoli learning to trust the rock, the rope, and herself during a rock climbing field trip to Camp Hale.
Vail Mountain School photo

About summerquest

Since 1995, Vail Mountain School has run SummerQuest, a summer academic program for public school students in Eagle County with great potential, but who are in need of additional support and positive role models. Learn more about the program at

VAIL — For more than two decades, SummerQuest students have ended each day in a circle, writing and sharing acknowledgements and thanks for good things that day.

Those shoutouts are called “suns,” and during SummerQuest’s 23 years, a lot of suns have shined into the lives of local middle-schoolers who’ve been part of the program.

Eighth-grader Miriahm Gamboa is aging out of the program. She’ll take its lessons with her.

“SummerQuest taught me to persevere through challenges. I have also learned to become a leader by helping my community,” Gamboa said during graduation. “After three years of experience, I have some advice: Behave and make the most of everything. Have fun and work hard.”

SummerQuest is for local middleschool students who need an academic push. They spend academic time in language arts and math, as well as painting, cooking, soccer, 3D design and printing and dancing. There’s a raft trip, service work with local organizations, visits to Vail Mountain’s outdoor adventure facilities and rock climbing.

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Vail Mountain School hosts SummerQuest each summer, where 36 middle school students — 12 each from the sixth, seventh and eighth grades, work on academics, explore the outdoors and build self-confidence and trust.

This was sixth-grader Mitzy Loredo’s first year. She liked the field trips — rafting and zip lining and climbing. She fell. Everyone does, she said. She learned to pick herself up.

The lessons will help her improve, especially in reading. This summer, she learned about how tsunamis and tornadoes happen around the world.

Seventh-grader Alexis Vega made a lot of friends and managed to make friends with math and reading, along with some soccer skills. He’ll carry his math and reading skills into the seventh grade. He feels pretty good about being ahead in his classes when school starts next month.

Seventh-grader Leo Martinez’ writing is much improved after a summer of essays on a vast array of subjects, such as: “If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?”

“I would like to go to Spain for the beaches and the soccer games,” Martinez said.

His friend Vega chimed in that he would go to the Amazon jungle “to see a piranha bite a piece off of a soda can,” he said, laughing.

SummerQuest’s results are real. Eighth-grader Wendy Sarrios’ grades are better.

“I’ve made a lot of memories, met a lot of people and the teachers are amazing,” Sarrios said.

For now, she’s aiming toward a career in law enforcement.

“I like solving mysteries,” she said.

Allie Gish, Annie Blakslee and Luke McKeever are all recent VMS graduates and spent this summer teaching SummerQuest.

“We get to see them grow and improve,” Gish said.

VMS is big on cross-age activities, which helped with this, said Blakslee, now a student at Bates College.

“SummerQuest is a great opportunity to reach out to the community and meet great kids like these,” Blakslee said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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