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Julia Chon is a budding 16-year-old artist who already has her creations hanging in some of Washington, D.C.’s trendiest restaurants.

Virtual school has provided Julia – an 11th grader at K12 International Academy (iCademy) – with a flexible school setting, allowing her the opportunity to explore her artistic passion. It is also proving to be good preparation for the “real world” by teaching her the importance of project and time management. She enrolled in iCademy in 9th grade.

“Julia wanted more time to pursue art and build her portfolio. Realizing that a traditional high school routine wouldn’t allow her enough time to do it all, she proposed the idea of online high school,” said Julia’s mother, Elaine Chon, who enrolled her daughter with iCademy for ninth grade.

Julia’s artwork captures the personality of a sophisticated, fun, and youthful teen. Some of her favorite mediums are acrylic, watercolor, and oil paint.

She has always loved art since she was as small child, and at the age of 13, she started to take it more seriously. Julia currently creates her art pieces in her basement studio in Vienna, Virginia, where she works on a series of commissions for local restaurants, including Water & Wall and Buttercream Bakeshop.

Elaine manages a venture capital fund called Mokja Ventures which invests in restaurants in Washington, D.C.  This has played a part in helping Julia find restaurants that are looking for artwork to display, giving Julia the opportunity to showcase her paintings in a public setting.

“I invested in a bakery called Buttercream Bakeshop,” Elaine said. “Right before opening, Julia received an email for three 36×36-inch pieces for the main wall, to be done in four days! Julia stepped up to the challenge and that was the beginning of a very lucrative relationship. Her art series continues to rotate and has been on display at Buttercream Bakeshop since late April.”

“I like the flexibility of the online school,” Elaine said. “It allows Julia to have her own schedule and have more opportunities that she wouldn’t have at a traditional school. She can work anywhere in the world.”

Elaine believes the virtual school setting gives students the opportunity to truly excel in life.

“I believe there are always learning opportunities in life, you just have to keep your eyes and mind open,” Elaine said. “By not being in a traditional high school setting, some kids thrive more because there are less distractions and noise. The first question I get from most people about online high school is, ‘What about friends and the social side of high school?’ That depends on the child. Most kids communicate and live their lives through social media. Maintaining friendships can be hard because you don’t see each other constantly, but good friendships can surmount that.”

Julia stays pretty busy with her art but she does dragon boat racing on the weekends and regularly joins her mother for her restaurant work events.

She is currently in the middle of college test preparation and starting her search early for possible colleges to apply to before she graduates next year.

“I don’t think online learning is for everyone, but it can be the best thing ever for a motivated student and learning coach,” Elaine said. “The more I talk about it, the more people express how their child may have thrived more in an online learning environment.”

To see Julia’s artwork you can browse her Instagram @juliasunah  or @yeokmajikseong and her official website juliasunah.com.

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