Student Features

PA Cyber provides flexibility for biker brothers to excel, give back, encourage others

Mar 15, 2016

When 300 youth bicycle riders from all over the country converge at The Wheel Mill in Pittsburgh on March 19 for an event called Next Generation Jam, they will have nationally sponsored BMX riders Lukas and Nathan Halahan to thank…and, indirectly, their school, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School.

“It’s because of PA Cyber that the boys are able to excel at the sport they love, and give back to it as well,” said their mom, Jen Halahan. 

“PA Cyber has been amazing for us,” said Mike Halahan, their dad, mentor and de facto manager. “The boys are doing well in school, and their riding and industry involvement continues to progress. PA Cyber affords them the flexibility to meet their demanding schedule of travel and performances.”

The Halahans are family hosts for Next Generation Jam, a bike riding event for kids of all ages, set for noon to 8 p.m. March 19 at The Wheel Mill, an indoor bike park built inside an old warehouse facility in the East End District. The Wheel Mill has 88,000 square feet of jumps and trails. The location is 6815 Hamilton Ave., Pittsburgh, 15208.

“BMX freestyle is creative, with as much time spent up in the air as on the ground. Jams are fun events where there are no winners or losers,” Mike said. “You go and ride your bike. There might be a best trick competition, or fastest around the track.”

Lukas, 13, and Nathan, 11, are freestyle bike riders who travel extensively, riding BMX and mountain bikes. They are also involved in the testing and development of new youth-specific, high-end bicycle frames, components and safety gear, their father explained.

“They have several industry sponsors that support their riding and travel,” Mike said. “In turn, the boys provide their sponsors with photo and video media and marketing content, along with product feedback. They also compete in freestyle and racing competitions…all the while having fun while they ride their bicycles in new places.”

Mike said the boys “contribute to the local riding scene through stewardship of public dirt trails, jumps, and pump tracks. And, they host events like Next Gen Jam that creates a fun environment for kids of all ages to compete, improve their skills, make friends and most importantly have fun on their bikes.”

In 2010, when Lukas and Nathan were nationally ranked on the BMX racing circuit, before transitioning to freestyle, Mike and Jen Halahan realized attending a classroom school was not going to work for the boys. To compete on the national level requires extensive travel time. For a weekend meet the family often leaves on a Wednesday and doesn’t get back until Monday.

They wanted the certified teachers and accredited curriculum that a public cyber charter school could provide, did their research, and decided on PA Cyber.

“I didn’t want to do the whole mom-school thing,” said Jen. “I looked at a couple of others before deciding on PA Cyber.”

She said having a regional PA Cyber office not far away at Wexford, Pa., helped her make the choice. “I wanted to know there is somebody nearby to help if I needed it.”

She said the boys “are doing great is school, mostly A’s and one or two B’s. I’ve asked them a couple of times if they miss regular school. They don’t.”

Working with sponsors who are leading providers of bicycle components, clothing and protective gear has taught the boys a lot in addition to giving them the opportunity to travel to events around the country.

While getting a state-approved education through PA Cyber, Nathan and Lukas have used biking to learn about action video photography, marketing, physics, mechanics, injury prevention and rehabilitation, engineering, geography and cultures, their dad said.

Recent videos of the boys riding are posted at: https://vimeo.com/146580688 and https://vimeo.com/150976711. Photos are posted at @irodetoday on Instagram.

Media Contact

Casie Colalella / casie.colalella@pacyber.org

About PA Cyber

Serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber) is one of the largest, most experienced, and most successful online public schools in the nation. PA Cyber's online learning environments, personalized instructional methods, and choices of curricula connect Pennsylvania students and their families with state-certified and highly-qualified teachers, and rich academic content that is aligned to state standards. Founded in 2000, PA Cyber is headquartered in Midland (Beaver County) and maintains a network of support offices throughout the state. As a public school, PA Cyber is open for enrollment by any school-age child residing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and does not charge tuition to students or families.