11-year old gymnast Chanel Lucas currently competes in USA Level 9 Gymnastics for the North Metro Gymnastics Center in Woodstock, Georgia. Chanel, an East Cobb gymnast and a 7th grader at Georgia Connections Academy, began her competitive gymnastic career at the age of 7. She follows a rigorous and demanding training schedule and has been awarded numerous honors for her efforts, including being a Georgia State Champion in Beam, Floor and All-Around in USA Level 6. But Lucas has another training secret weapon, one she shares with many of the country’s most promising young Olympic hopefuls: virtual public school. Lucas and the other young athletes across the country attend virtual public school like Georgia Connections Academy to juggle schoolwork and their rigorous training and competition schedules. So these world-class athletes no longer have to choose between following their Olympic dreams and getting a top-quality public education.
Nationwide, a record number of K-12 students are getting their public educations virtually. But the trend is even more pronounced in the world of elite amateur athletics, where young competitors have to practice for multiple hours every day, and travel for competitions – while still doing their ABCs.
In August 2011, Chanel made the decision to take her gymnastics to a higher level by committing additional practice time. “In order to enable the additional practice time I needed, my family and I made the decision for me to enroll in Georgia Connections Academy (GACA),” said Chanel. “GACA gives me flexibility in my schedule while still attending a Georgia Charter Public School.” Chanel’s curriculum at GACA includes Gifted Language Arts and Literature classes. Chanel excelled academically in 6th grade and was named to the GACA Honor Roll.
For the 2012-2013 year, Chanel will compete at USA Level 9 and practice at North Metro Gymnastics Center approximately 24 hours per week, while attending GACA. “We feel blessed to have GACA as an option for Chanel’s education and look forward to a rewarding year both academically and in the gym,” said Chanel’s mother, Sonia.
Chanel’s additional accomplishments include finishing 2nd Place in the All-Around Georgia State Championship Prep Optional Level and 5th All-Around in the USA Level 8 Georgia State Meet. She competed as a Georgia Team member in the 2012 Region 8 Championships and had the highest All-Around score for the Georgia Team, which led them to a 3rd place finish in the Team competition.