Ski Hill Expands Mount Ellis Academy Educational Mission

June 21, 2019 | Education | Matthew Lukens

The crystalline air condenses into quickly disappearing clouds of white vapor. As you look up, forest-tree green edges a pure white swath of snow. The mountain air threatens to burst your lungs, and the wild beauty all around explodes into view. These surroundings call out to ski the "cold smoke” on Mount Ellis Academy’s hill in Bozeman, Mont.

Before the academy got control of the property, Bozeman residents skied at what was known as the Bear Canyon Ski Area. Since the 1950s, however, the ski hill has been an iconic feature of Mount Ellis Academy. Alumni tell stories of times past when students would run the hill without any adult supervision. While those adventurous times have changed, looking over the slope’s rim at the run dropping away beneath you still forces a reckoning of capabilities and invites you to stretch your limits.

The concept of helping students discover themselves in the context of God’s creation is a foundational part of what guides the school’s program. The ski hill represents an ever-present opportunity for Mount Ellis’ students to disconnect from their electronic devices and an all-consuming digital world and plug into the trees, the snow and Montana’s pure mountain air.

Additionally, the ski hill provides students in the academy’s work-study program an opportunity to develop important skills and habits. During the summer and fall students help clear the ski run of debris and new plant growth. They also work on the mechanics of maintaining the T-bar lift, and during the winter they help to operate it. The ski hill helps students recognize how work habits and responsibility form an integral part of keeping the academy’s program running smoothly.

This year, the school is running an initiative to replace the ski hill’s lights. A number of people in the Bozeman community have expressed interest in using the hill to ski after work. Since the other ski resort in the area does not offer night skiing, this constitutes an excellent opportunity for Mount Ellis Academy to serve its surrounding community. From discovering the beauty in God’s creation, to developing a healthy work ethic, to serving the surrounding community, Mount Ellis Academy’s ski hill symbolizes what makes this school so special.