Through the organization she founded, Dancers 4 Dancers, Palmetto High School senior Olivia Nash combines her passion for dance with her commitment to community service. For the past four years, Nash has collected gently used dancewear from her school and dance studio and donated the items to local outreach dance programs.
“The dance studios combine the clothing donations with their scholarship programs to help young dancers who may not otherwise have the resources to take dance lessons and perform,” said Nash.
Nash has danced for 14 years at Dance Empire, where she is a senior member of the Elite Premiere Company. She excels in many genres, including ballet, contemporary, modern, jazz and hip hop. She has participated as a regional and national finalist at numerous competitions throughout the U.S.
“I spend a lot of hours at Dance Empire, it’s my second home,” Nash said. “I really do love it; my best friends are there.”
Nash is the captain of Variations, Palmetto’s dance ensemble team. As captain, she teaches dance classes and helps arrange the ensemble’s performances. During her junior year, she received the underclassman Outstanding Dance Award for her leadership.
The Variations team members perform at school events and also share their dance skills with the community, raising awareness and helping those in need. Each year, Variations performs at Gulliver Preparatory’s Aids Benefit Performance and presents a holiday show at Coral Reef Nursing Home. The ensemble has performed at local events including Taste of Pinecrest, and has taken their show on the road to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios.
“One of my most memorable performances with Variations was dancing at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in New York City,” said Nash. “It was an amazing experience.”
Nash is not only a talented dancer, she also is a talented writer. She is president of Palmetto’s Newspaper Club and editor of the school newspaper’s Life section. She has mentored students in writing to help prepare them for the annual FCAT exam. This past summer, Nash received a scholarship to attend the Indiana University High School Journalism Institute.
“This program validated my love of journalism,” she said. “Writing has always been my favorite subject.”
Nash took her community service efforts to Costa Rica during the summers of her freshman and sophomore years. On her first trip to the rural mountain areas, she worked with other students to restore a school and playground, and provide much-needed supplies to the local children. On her second trip to the coastline, she helped clean up and preserve a national park and the area’s beaches.
“We worked long days in the hot sun, but it was well worth the effort,” Nash said. “We were able to make a difference and help a community in need.”
For her outstanding efforts in community service, Nash was the recipient of her school’s 2011 PTSA Service Award. She is enrolled in all honors and AP classes and is a member and historian of the National Honor Society. In recognition of her academic and leadership accomplishments, Nash is a semifinalist for a Posse Foundation scholarship
In college, Nash plans to double-major in Communications/Journalism and Dance. She is considering schools that offer strong programs in these majors, including several Florida schools, Indiana University, Syracuse University and the University of Maryland.
“My dream job is to be a writer for a dance publication or the Arts and Entertainment section of a major newspaper, such as the New York Times,” said Nash.
By Nancy Eagleton