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By Jess Utz 

Senior Profile: Olivia Antone

 


As we get closer to this year’s graduation day at Lake Roosevelt, I sat down with one of this year’s seniors and we had a great conversation filled with tears, hope for the future and advice. Here is a little bit of my chat with Olivia Antone.

“I feel more accomplished.” That is how Olivia started her answer about her senior year. “I am more stable in my head and am able to focus on my classes.” Olivia explained to me that her high school years were not the easiest for her. There were lots of trials and tribulations for her personally, and for her family. But something clicked in her this year and things are going in the right direction now.

When I asked her about the things she has overcome so far, she spoke of the importance of her Grandma Donna and her Grandpa Chazz and how their passing was a turning point in her life.

“When my Grandpa Chazz passed away earlier this year, we knew it was coming. I was able to sit down with him and he spoke to me,” she said. “He told me to be strong, don’t be sad. It was a good talk.”

Her Grandma Donna was just as important in her life. She was the mother figure that her mom could not always be early in Olivia’s life. “These two people were really important to me, and after they passed I realized that it was up to me to step up into my role in the family.”

We talked at length about tribal traditions and how important they are to her and her people, and about how she wants to be a part of bringing things back. Her goals for herself reflect that and her heart for helping others.

“I am going to try my best to complete four years at Central Washington University and major in American Sign Language. I then want to specialize in speech therapy using sign language.” There are people on this reservation that need this and Olivia wants to give back to those that need this help. We also talked about the possibility of her being the first ever to learn the Salish language in sign language and being able to teach that as well.

Olivia was doing real well keeping her emotions in control until I asked her about her influences here at Lake Roosevelt. “Mrs. Utz and Mrs. Whitelaw,” she said, but had to pause before going further. The tears welled in her eyes as she went on: “They have been here for me all four years of high school and through the bad times their doors were always open for me.” Great words for two female mentors here at Lake Roosevelt.

We went on and I asked about the biggest influences in her life. Olivia had to pause a little longer this time, grab a tissue and told me, “Man, this is like a counseling session.” We both laughed and she continued. “My mom,” she said. “Her sobriety; she quit because of me, and that means so much. It takes courage to break the cycle of alcohol and drug abuse, and my mother did it. That means I won’t have to break the cycle, because she did. Also, she ran for council and lost, but that did not stop her. She keeps going and is a leader. Me and my mom were not always close; she did not know how to be a mother to me. Sobriety changed that and we got closer, and she is now capable of comforting me and talking to me. That means so much.” We both took a moment before moving on.

My final question was what advice she has for future students of Lake Roosevelt High School. “Keep focused on work, even in the hard times,” she said, more as a statement than an answer, and she continued, “Your mental health is the number-one priority.” What huge advice for us all.

I have seen Olivia bloom from a shy young lady to a local leader among her peers and her community. Wherever she ends up will be a blessed place to have her dwelling among them. This girl has big ideas, huge dreams and a dedication that will make all of them and more come to pass. Good luck, Olivia, and come back and teach us all of your wisdom from time to time. You have great words to share. Thank you.

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