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Julia Van Raalte

SCCA student Julia playing guitar on stage

Julia Van Raalte is a high school student from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina attending South Carolina Connections Academy (SCCA). Julia is the current South Carolina Governor’s Cup shortboard champion for her surfing division, so she appreciates having a more flexible learning schedule that enables her to balance training and competition with school. Read more of her story below.

Julia previously attended a local public magnet high school. She found the experience was confining because the bricks-and-mortar school forced students to learn at the same rate and didn’t allow opportunities for outside activities, such as sports and music.

“Connections Academy is a much better fit for me than my previous school because it allows me to learn in my own style while moving ahead quickly on my classwork. The flexible schedule lets me focus far more on my music and surfing than I was ever able to do while at traditional schools. For instance, last fall I was able to keep up with my studies while surfing at ‘Easterns,’ the ESA East Coast Surfing Championships.

Math has always been one of my favorite subjects. It has also been really special because I’ve been able to engage my grandparents, who are both college math professors, in the learning process.

I also play a lot of guitar at night and on flat days. I’ve been studying guitar for a few years now with Scottie Frier and Shem Creek Music. It’s opened up an entire world for me. The flexibility of Connections Academy has really allowed me to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity because I can take time off during the day or sleep in after a late night if I need to. It is just completely different than my experience in a traditional high school.”

After completing high school, Julia hopes to attend the College of Charleston. She plans to keep her options open while exploring a variety of different interests, including math, computer programming, Spanish, surfing, and playing guitar.

Connections Academy is a much better fit for me than my previous school because it allows me to learn in my own style while moving ahead quickly on my classwork.
— Julia