Launch Virtual Academy Student Wins San Diego Countywide Contest

by Alexis Castañon & Allyson Murillo

Tiella Ward, a middle school student at Launch Virtual Academy, has won the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering 2023 STEAM T-Shirt Contest.

For Tiella, this was an opportunity to take inspiration from her favorite anime art styles and blend them with her own.

She first heard about the contest through her science teacher Dr. Milena Aubry.

Tiella’s mom attributes a big part of her daughter’s success to the freedom and flexibility that her school schedule provides.

“We travel a lot, and that allows her to find more inspiration,” her mom said.

“Thanks to Launch she is able to spend more time focusing on her hobbies,” she added.

Art by Tiella Ward

“It’s pretty awesome. The teachers are super nice, and I have more time to draw!,” Tiella said.

Tiella describes the process of creating her design as a process of trial and error. Tiella says that she occasionally struggled with finding the right motivation during the artistic process but found the confidence to persevere in her mom and her cousin.

“Just keep going! Just keep swimming! I kept telling her,” her mom said.

Tiella’s mom describes Tiella being interested in art at a very young age.

“She’s been drawing since she’s been able to hold a pencil. She learned how to write her name when she was two, and since then has been drawing and doodling”, she said. 

Tiella’s goal is to become an animator.

Knowing that the t-shirt will be worn by hundreds of people and has the potential to inspire others brings her great excitement and joy.

“I felt ecstatic and happy that I won”, she said.

Tiella’s advice for those pursuing the arts is to never compare themselves to other artist but instead follow their passion and the things that bring them joy. 

“Don’t give up on your dreams. It doesn’t matter what people say, and continue going forward,” says Tiella.

The San Diego Science Festival returns to Petco Park on March 4th from 10am-5pm.

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  • What is Launch Virtual Academy?

    Launch Virtual Academy is a Course-Based Independent Study School using a blended learning pedagogical approach designed for the student and family that wants a flexible program that maximizes choice. It is open to any 7th – 12th grade student that wants their education primarily online. It provides Choice, Flexibility, Personalized Learning, Online and On-Site Activities, Certified Teachers, Engaging Curriculum, Access to On-Site enrichment programs (as conditions allow and safety protocols are in place) including Sports, Visual and Performing Arts, Career Technical Education (CTE) and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM).

  • How is Online Learning at Launch Virtual Academy different than Distance Learning?

    Launch Virtual Academy is an online school. It is not Distance Learning. Launch Academy is an independent study program where student attendance is based on satisfactory course progress, not seat time. There is teacher online instruction (LIVE Academic Sessions) and student collaboration, but less frequent than what students experienced during Distance learning. In regular school the teacher paces the class for all students to be on the same curriculum topics. At Launch Academy students have access to the course content 24/7 and can move faster through the curriculum than regular school. Students at Launch move independently through the course content while teacher monitors, evaluates, and provides support. Launch offers personalized and flexible education for each student.

  • Who can attend Launch Virtual Academy?
    1. Any student  in grades 7th-12th who lives within the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) boundaries.
    2. Any  student in grades 7th-12th who lives outside SUHSD boundaries but obtains an inter-district transfer permit from their current district office.
  • How many classes do students take at a time?

    We operate on a quarter system. Within each quarter, students will take 3 classes (credits). Each quarter class is equivalent to a semester-based class at a comprehensive school. By the end of the academic year students will complete 12 credits (classes) just as they would at a traditional site. Opportunities for advanced credit completion are also available within our quarter system.

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