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Seattle dancer is North Hills online school graduate

| Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, 9:00 p.m.
Nicole Rizzitano graduated from North Hills High school via an online program.
Nicole Rizzitano graduated from North Hills High school via an online program.
Nicole Rizzitano graduated from North Hills High school via an online program.
Nicole Rizzitano graduated from North Hills High school via an online program.
Nicole Rizzitano graduated from North Hills High school via an online program.
Nicole Rizzitano graduated from North Hills High school via an online program.
Nicole Rizzitano graduated from North Hills High school via an online program.
Nicole Rizzitano graduated from North Hills High school via an online program.

North Hills High School graduate Nicole Rizzitano keeps moving up as a member of the Pacific Northwest Ballet Company in Seattle.

Rizzitano, 19, from Ross but now living in Seattle, is in her first year as a corps de ballet dancer. She will travel with the company to New York City Center in February.

Marjorie Thompson, an assistant principal at the Pacific Northwest Ballet School, said Rizzitano was chosen to attend the company's nationally acclaimed summer intensive program in an audition in Pittsburgh three years ago.

She then was invited to stay for the year and join the school's professional division.

Students in the division have graduated high school or are finishing classes online. They train and have opportunities to perform with the company.

While training, Rizzitano earned her high school diploma in 2014 by taking courses at the Online Academy at North Hills, a cyber school program run by the North Hills School District.

Jeff Taylor, an assistant superintendent for curriculum, assessment and special programs at North Hills, said she was a “model online student” who excelled at time management.

Rizzitano performed corps de ballet roles in company performances of “Emeralds,” “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” “Giselle,” “The Sleeping Beauty” and “The Nutcracker” as a professional division student.

She had a leading role in “Swan Lake,” and was invited to join the company as an apprentice last year.

Thompson said Rizzitano is a “lovely, strong dancer” whose talent has been recognizable for a long time. “Her strength and technique are outstanding.”

Rizzitano hopes to be a principal dancer eventually. She formerly studied at the Pittsburgh Ballet House in Cranberry.

Though moving west has been good for her career, she said she has struggled with homesickness.

Her mother, Sarah Rizzitano, said she had trepidations at first about her daughter moving to Seattle.

“It was stressful, (but) it was her goal, her dream (and) it was hard to say no,” Sarah Rizzitano said.

Karen Kadilak is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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