Patrick Manyak

Patrick Manyak

Learning Coach

Patrick Manyak is the parent of Colorado Connections Academy (ColoCA) high school student and national-level competitive skier Danya Manyak. Their family chose ColoCA to give Danya the flexibility he needed to focus on becoming his best student-athlete self he could be. And boy is it working out! He travels for competitions in slopestyle and big air and won gold and silver in slopestyle skiing at USASA Nationals over the last two years.

“Danya was already a national-level competitive skier during his middle school years,” said Patrick. “So we knew that to do the type of skiing training that he wanted, he wouldn’t be able to attend a traditional high school.” He trains every day either on the slopes during ski season or by doing CrossFit during the off season.

Colorado Connections Academy gave him the flexibility to work ahead in his classes during the early fall before ski training started and also to arrange his days so that he could get schoolwork done and be out training and competing all winter."

"I would definitely recommend Connections Academy to other families, particularly to those whose kids are focused and have passions that are outside of the realm of schooling."

— Patrick

Initially, Danya’s parents were concerned that online school wouldn’t give him opportunities to socialize. “We realized quite quickly that Danya’s social group was naturally shaped by his passion for skiing. So he kept in touch with other elite teen skiers across the country through social media and then, as soon as ski season started, he was interacting every day with the people in the freeski community.

“In the end, we realized that even if he were rubbing shoulders with hundreds of other teens at the local high school, that really might not change his friendship circle that dramatically. Right now, he is a passionate, elite-level skier. So it is only natural that his inner circle of friends are other skiers. And, if anything, Connections Academy® actually allows him to spend more time with those kids.”

When asked what he likes most about Connections Academy, Patrick points to how the school day and learning environment is structured to help Danya reach his goals in life. “Danya is a busy, focused teen. He has big goals both in terms of his academic work with maintaining a high GPA, taking AP® courses,* scoring high on the College Board tests, and in his sport of slopestyle skiing.

“We loved the fact that there really is no wasted time with Connections Academy. Because his school time is so efficient, he can afford to be out on the ski hill every day making laps through the terrain park. He can also put in 20–30 minutes a day preparing for the PSAT and SAT. And, of course, during the actual ski season, at his level, Danya has to travel to venues for competitions. With Connections Academy, making the trips is no problem.

Danya wants to be a writer and also to be involved with environmental issues. He has had several courses that related to both of these areas of interest that have helped him to think about options for his future in new ways. And he is very excited to start with digital photography next semester, as photography is an important aspect in the freeski world and connects very well to another one of his passions: hiking in the Colorado backcountry.

I would definitely recommend Connections Academy to other families, particularly to those whose kids are focused and have passions that are outside of the realm of schooling. It is easy to see the enormous advantage of the flexibility that comes with attending Connections Academy. It allows a kid like Danya to have a high-quality academic experience and still ski train every day.

But what is just as important but might not be as visible is that Connections Academy offers a very efficient way to do school. To be honest, there is a lot of downtime that comes with the traditional high school school day. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But today, there are a lot of focused teens with high goals for themselves. These kids know how to fill up their days with all kinds of great, productive activities, and so they don’t need to be sitting around in traditional classrooms, much of the time bored, for seven hours a day. Kids like that need efficient schooling as much as they need flexible schooling so that they can get what they need in terms of quality academics and then get on with the other great things that they want to do. Connections Academy has provided Danya with just this kind of efficient yet high-quality pathway through high school.”