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Student-athlete, Audrey McDonald at the Picabo Street Academy.

Audrey McDonald, a local swimmer with Olympic and collegiate aspirations, once struggled mightily with the school-pool balance. “She swims four hours a day and travels every four to six weeks for four-day swim meets,” her mom, Jennifer, says. “Getting assignments ahead of time was difficult, and she’d inevitably fall behind.”

That all changed last fall when Audrey enrolled in the Picabo Street Academy, founded by the school’s Olympic champion namesake. Just 15 when she was named to the US Ski Team, Street is all too familiar with being on the unbalanced end of school and sport. Now, this mother of three is helping create an academic option that provides a flexible, custom-designed secondary education that accommodates rigorous extracurricular schedules, sport and otherwise.

Street partnered with former US Ski & Snowboard Association educators Dan Kemp and Michelle Demschar to create an educational model including both online and classroom coursework that meets NCAA-approved standards and AdvancEd accreditation. PSA students are not required to meet a prescribed number of classroom hours, but Kemp noted, “We are finding that the students are loving the classroom environment here: no desks, no bell schedule, not lectures only. Instead, we offer an engaging, discussion-based, hands-on approach.”

Within the PSA format, Audrey McDonald is flourishing: her once 1.9 GPA is now a 3.7, and earlier this year she broke two Utah state records in the 200- and 400-meter freestyle. “[PSA] is teaching her about time management,” says Jennifer McDonald, “which may be one of the most valuable skills they can teach.”

Picabo Street Academy tuition is $12,500/year or $1,250 per course, per semester. For details, visit picabostreetacademy.com.

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