Chandler Hamilton senior took unconventional route to graduate - East Valley Tribune: Chandler

Chandler Hamilton senior took unconventional route to graduate

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Posted: Monday, May 26, 2014 9:15 am

Despite not setting foot in a Hamilton High School classroom in a year and a half, Ana Karina Manta is among the school’s nearly 850 seniors who will graduate this week. Manta hasn’t even lived in Chandler since midway through her junior year.

But she accumulated a 4.4837 grade-point average, garnered acceptance to New York University, Boston College and the University of Michigan, among others, while focusing on a budding ice dancing career.

After Manta, who goes by Karina, won the 2012 novice solo ice dancing national championship she moved to Colorado Springs, Colo., site of the U.S. Olympic Training Center, to dedicate herself to skating.

Always studious, Manta enrolled in a public school in Colorado before opting for the Chandler Unified School District’s Chandler Online Academy this past semester.

“Skating has become really important to me; I’ll probably take next year off of school to focus on skating. But school has always been super important to me and I wanted to keep up with that,” Manta said Wednesday, not long after completing her anatomy final. “I wanted to finish high school before I took time off.”

Chandler Online Academy allowed Manta to do that, taking an exclusively honors-level course load; she also took three classes through Brigham Young University’s online catalogue.

Self-motivated to complete the necessary work around the nearly 40 hours she spends either on the ice or training otherwise, Manta on Wednesday will reap the rewards by walking with her classmates — many of whom she went to school with since the first grade — at ASU’s Wells Fargo Arena.

“It hasn’t been traditional but it’s been one of the best experiences of my high school years,” Manta said. “Being able to focus on my skating hundreds of miles away and still get to walk with my friends will be great.”

Manta was able to work on a few traditional experienced into her senior year. She attended Hamilton’s prom last month.

“I don’t feel like I missed much,” Manta said. “I’m still really close with a lot of kids at Hamilton.”

Chandler Online Academy aims to “provide students with a high quality personalized education combined with the flexibility to engage in learning anywhere, anytime,” according to the mission posted on its website.

Manta’s skating endeavors kept her plenty busy, while her family remained in Chandler. She changed pairs partners in February, joining with Joe Johnson of Colorado, watched intently as roommate Jason Brown competed in men’s figure skating at the Sochi Olympics and continued to position herself to “hopefully soon” begin competing internationally with Team USA.

“I had to grow up fast, especially that first year,” Manta said. “But it’s been great with my skating schedule and really helped me focus on what’s something really important to me.”

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