Teams of Vail Mountain School students envision Vail for teens |

Teams of Vail Mountain School students envision Vail for teens

Vail Town Council members listen to pitches, express interest in VR tour of summer in Vail

Vail Town Council member Jen Mason, left, takes a quick spin on a virtual reality bike. One of the inventors, Vail Mountain School student Alessandro Cantele guided Mason through her virtual ride.
Scott Miller |

VAIL — Kids at Vail Mountain school know Vail pretty well — most have lived much, or all, their lives in or near town. But they did some research to see what other kids might want to see in town.

Vail Mountain School teacher Grant Gary this school year has had seventh and eighth graders in a class called Design Thinking. As part of the course, the Vail Local Marketing District Advisory Council asked the students to design things that could create more teen-friendly spaces in the resort villages.

The Vail Town Council on May 7 got a look at the designs, and the students behind them.

Gary told council members that students in February started doing research for their various projects. The students interviewed more than 100 teens, both locals and visitors, to come up with ideas.

Research, then prototypes

Gary said those interviews led the students to come up with prototypes. Those prototypes were then presented in small, basic forms to still other teens and adults. That led to better prototypes.

Student Thomas Turilli said he worked on a version of his idea for a “Chess & Chill” space, then ran it past a few high school students, including Vail Mountain School senior Cameron Bill.

From that, Turilli worked to design a space where young people could do homework, buy soft drinks and snacks and yes, play chess.

Several students came up with variations on the theme of a place where kids could hang out with peers.

Student Rhys Ferer’s Cloud Lounge idea was more high-tech, with ideas for video games, places to watch Netflix and YouTube videos and green screens so kids could make videos with the relatively new Tik Tok app.

Sammie Shim and Liv Moritz of Team Zorb noted that their interviews showed that many teens visiting Vail want something to do besides shop and eat. Their idea included a padded maze in which kids could bounce off each other.

Some students took a different tack beyond a place to hang out.

Will Brunner likes the town’s skate park but he envisioned an all-year spot for skiers and snowboarders to work on tricks called “Just Gonna Send It.” Similar to a facility in Utah, Brunner’s idea would include trampolines and foam pits — “a fun place to go to hang out and shred,” he said.

Council members listened attentively to the ideas — the idea for the town’s skate park came from another Vail Mountain School student — although they all wondered just where the hangouts could go in places with expensive and rare real estate.

Council members were intrigued by Izzy Glackin and Madison Milligan’s idea for S’mores vending machines next to the town’s public fireplaces.

But they were captivated by an idea brought in by Alessandro Cantele, Zibi Laird, Phoebe Heaydon and Henry Prince. That idea combined high tech with a small space requirement.

A virtual summer

The students have proposed a virtual reality tour of summer in Vail for winter visitors.

Prince told council members that not enough winter visitors are aware of summer activities. Using a bicycle and a laptop, the virtual reality simulator can provide a glimpse at riding or hiking trails on and near Vail Mountain. The system could provide a look at Epic Discovery and other activities, too.

Council member Jen Mason climbed on the virtual reality bike and seemed impressed by the trail riding experience.

Cantele said he’s putting up a prototype in the school, and kids from kindergarten through high school all wanted to try it.

“You should show this to our IT department and Vail Resorts,” council member Greg Moffet said.

The prototype is set for further testing.

Gary said the prototypes developed by the students could be instructive while town officials are thinking about other projects.

“Any time you’re developing any sort of idea, (think about) how you can prototype ideas before you build,” Gary said. “Think about how you can create a less expensive prototype before you build.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at or 970-748-2930.

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