Heritage High denies him opportunity to graduate with class due to on-line schooling during training
C.J. Nickolas, a senior in high school, is headed to Taekwondo Senior World Championships in Manchester, England in May 2019. He had to withdrawal from Heritage High School two days into his Senior year because he was one of eight athletes in the United States picked up by the United States Taekwondo (USAT) to train full time abroad and enter the European Taekwondo Open circuit. The intention was to get these athletes ready for 2024 or 2028 Olympics.
However, Nickolas has defied the odds, outperformed the initial expectation, and is headed to the World Championships this year setting him on a track for the 2020 Olympics. A few other things have to fall into place for him to make it, as well, but he’s definitely on track.
Nickolas is the son of Edward Givans, owner of Givans Taekwondo in Antioch, where Nickolas trains, and Denise Nickolas of Brentwood.
“His mom and I are very proud of C.J.,” the elder Givans said. “It’s been exciting to see him advance in his skills and the competitions.”
Arriving at this place in his life was not happenstance or luck for Nickolas. He has put long hours, and extensive time into training over the years. Nickolas has made many sacrifices to get where he is and says that even in the setbacks and losses and injuries, he knows he has to continue the grind. He says he digs deep when it’s tough and keeps pressing his way.
Nickolas is finishing out his high school through an on-line school (CAVA) while he continues to train full time. His travels in the past six months have taken him to compete in Greece, Poland, France, Croatia, Africa and Spain among other places. He has one stop in Bulgaria before he heads back to England to train for Worlds. CJ has been in Brentwood schools (Ron Nunn, Adams and Heritage) and has many ties to the community.
Sadly, he says, “I will not be allowed to participate in the graduation ceremony with my peers and I will be at Worlds during the Prom.”
Heritage High Principal Carrie Wells provided the reason Nickolas is not being allowed to graduate with this year’s class.
“He actually is not enrolled in our district, currently. In order to be enrolled in our district, he would have had to re-enroll in January, before the current semester,” she said. “His only option would be to enroll in Independence High School in our district. There would be seat time each week and check-in with the teacher.”
“It’s not that we don’t want him to graduate with us. But, board policy is pretty specific about that,” Wells added.
Nickolas puts that in the column of sacrifices and will continue his grind to get to the coming Olympics.
Allen Payton contributed to this story.