Gulliver Prep senior Olivia Connor is the Prep’s Silver Knight nominee in the area of English and Literature.
Connor already has four picture books published by Cloud9World. The books promote values to children including equity, inclusion, justice and diversity.
She wrote the books between junior and senior year. In December, she spoke to undergrad students at the University of Norte Dame on “Storytelling for Justice: Harnessing a Child’s Mind Toward Enduring Change.”
Connor’s Silver Knight project was Breakout Volleyball, a program she began with a friend and teammate.
“We go to schools in the inner city and teach volleyball basics to the elementary school aged girls,” she says. “We try to teach more than just volleyball skills. Life lessons and important values, teamwork, compassion, determination, grit.”
She began playing volleyball when she was nine.
“It was out of school in my neighborhood at the community center,” she says.
From there, she played volleyball for the Gulliver middle school team, then she played on the junior varsity as a freshman before moving on to the varsity team as a sophomore. As a senior, she was team captain.
“Because I had been given the opportunity to play, I got the opportunity to meet people and go across the country,” she says.
She wanted to make a difference, so she and her friend coached girls at Mater Academy of International Studies, a charter school and Toussaint L’Ouverture Elementary, one of the lowest performing schools in the county.
“We would go once a week to both schools for a one-hour practice and we would do this the entire school year,” she says. “Eight months out of the year. It has helped I do it with a partner. If someone can’t make it. There is always some out there.”
Connor is involved in extracurricular activities at Gulliver. She’s a board member of the Italian Club and a member of the Italian Honor Society.
Connor is on the Student Athlete Leadership Council. The council works to increase school spirit. The effort has been so effective they set records for attendance at football games this year.
The club also hosts events such as the Career in Sports event scheduled for Feb. 6.
Connor is a member of Mu Alpha Theta, Ro Kappa and the National Honor Society.
She’s vice president of the Student Council. She’s a peer health educator in the Health Information Project (HIP).
“I just think as an older student it’s important for us to teach the younger students while it’s preventative,” she says.
She’s a board member of the Environmental Club, which used to beknown as the Oceanography Club.
“We have started a new recycling initiative at Gulliver,” she says. “We’ve also organized two trips to the climate change strike. Students skip school on Friday to campaign for environmental justice.”
Connor has always been environmentally conscious. When she was in fourth grade, she had her mom help her create a website called Olivia’s Recycling Bin.
“I put a bunch of research and information, I tried to campaign for the three R’s. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”
Last year, Connor started a project in her Global Politics Class called Just a Piece.
“If everyone would pick up one piece of trash,” she says.
She started an Instagram account to let everyone know about the project. And she also tried to get people to go on weekly beach clean-ups.
Connor has applied to colleges and universities along the east coast. She has many interests so she is undecided on a major.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld