Sophia Kourtoglou manages a very demanding schedule. From mid-morning until early evening, Sophia spends hours on her tippy toes honing her craft as a ballet dancer with The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia.
In the early mornings and evenings, the 15-year-old from Northern California cracks open the books and works as a full-time student with California Virtual Academies (CAVA). Due to the unique flexibility only an online school curriculum can provide, Sophia is able to focus on her dream of becoming a professional dancer by training at a full-time dance school located nearly 3,000 miles away from her family, all while being challenged academically.
From a young age, Sophia has always excelled in school. Her mother, Angi Kourtoglou, describes her as “academically bright and always self-motivated.” However, throughout her middle school career, Sophia faced several issues with bullying, scheduling conflicts, and a lack in academic rigor.
It was these factors that originally piqued the Kourtoglou family’s interest in the CAVA curriculum. Sophia enrolled at CAVA at the beginning of eighth grade and has remained on the honor roll and dean’s list since she began.
“I love the online curriculum; it gives me tremendous flexibility since my teachers are always reachable and willing to open up assignments early and extend deadlines,” Sophia said. “I can work ahead when I need to, and if I fall behind a little bit I can always catch up. The teachers are really great with working with my schedule, and they always help me when I need it.”
With CAVA’s flexible schedule, Sophia is now able to dedicate more time to practicing her true passion as a ballet dancer, and she has made great strides in her ballet career.
“I have improved so much by dancing more hours, and it would not have been possible without using the CAVA curriculum,” she said.
Remarkably, Sophia placed in the top 12 of the renowned Youth America Grand Prix competition in the San Francisco semifinals at the age of 9. It was this event that sparked her passion for ballet and competition dance.
Within the last three years, Sophia has placed in the top 24 for classical ballet with YAGP, and she took gold for contemporary ballet and silver for classical ballet this past April with California Dance Classics. Additionally, she has competed twice at the World Ballet Competition in Orlando and was cast in leading roles as Little Clara in the Nutcracker, Nikiya in La Bayadere and Kitri in Don Quixote, to name a few.
Her biggest piece of advice for others? “If you have dream, go for it. You might feel at times you get stuck and stop improving, but keep on pushing,” she said.