Danya Manyak

Danya Manyak performing a ski trick at the 2018 USASA National Champtionships

Student athlete Danya Manyak started going to Colorado Connections Academy (ColoCA) as a high school freshman to gain the flexibility to pursue competitive skiing while taking advanced courses on a schedule that meets his needs. Danya previously attended his local public school and when he needed more flexibility for skiing, his family homeschooled him. But the family couldn’t offer the rigorous courses and instruction he needed and were happy to find a great school fit in ColoCA.

“After eighth grade, my parents and I knew that I couldn’t attend the local high school and do the ski training that I wanted to do,” said Danya. “But my parents also knew that we couldn’t homeschool for high school. So my dad looked up the online public school options for Colorado and found Connections Academy. I was definitely a part of the decision from the beginning. I knew that I wanted to be able to train for skiing every day during the winter and that I couldn’t do that if I attended the local high school.”

Danya Manyak doing school work at the slopes on his laptop

Danya can work at his own pace each day before skiing starts and get a lot of work done. There’s a period at the end of spring term when he can power through the work, which has been a very efficient way for him to do schooling. He doesn’t have to sit in a classroom and then go off and do homework, etc.

The course selection is excellent, with honors courses in math, English, and science. And the courses have been good for him and his interests. Danya wants to be an author and took a class right away during his first term that focused on writing development.

He is an exceptional student and independent skier in slopestyle skiing focused on big jumps and rail features. He started skiing when he was 3 years old and won gold and silver in slopestyle skiing at USASA Nationals the last two years. “I couldn’t have gone that far in the sport without the flexibility that Connections Academy has allowed me,” said Danya. “This season I will be competing in the North American Cup events across the U.S. and Canada.”

Online school has not impacted Danya’s social relationships. “Most of my friends are skiers, so I get to see all of my friends all winter when I am training and competing. I also have good friends at the local CrossFit gym. They are actually all ages and all kinds of people, but we work out together. I see them every morning, and they are interested in my skiing and schooling. I haven’t made a lot of friends through Connections Academy. Right now, I am really focused on my studies and my skiing. So I think that for now it makes sense that most of my friends are other teens who are passionate about freeskiing.”

Danya Manyak performing a cork blunt while skiing.

In the future, Danya will continue to train and compete at the highest level he can achieve. “I hope to compete well at the Revolution Tour and North American Cup level over the next couple of years. I would also want to hit the podium again at USASA Nationals in slopestyle. And I want to be able to go to the college of my choice. My classes at Connections Academy have prepared me to do well on the SAT and to show universities that I want to challenge myself with honors and Advanced Placement® classes. In the future, I would like to be a writer. Classes like AP Language and Composition have helped me be a better writer.

“There are a few private colleges that are in great locations for freeskiing and that have top freeski teams. So I would like to have the academic record and skiing success that would make me a great candidate for academic merit and athletic scholarships at those colleges.”

“My classes at Connections Academy have prepared me to do well on the SAT and to show universities that I want to challenge myself with honors and AP classes. In the future, I would like to be a writer. Classes like AP Language and Composition have helped me be a better writer.” – Danya Manyak, ColoCA Student


Patrick Manyak, Parent

Patrick Manyak

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.”

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.”

“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 Manyak, ColoCA Parent





*Advanced Placement® is a registered trademark of the College Board. Used with permission.