When your graduating class has only 133 people, it is pretty easy to spot a new face. Collegiate usually brings in a significant amount of new students before freshman year, but few students enter into the 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. Coming to a school where everyone knows each other is hard, but it’s even more difficult as a senior. Olivia Garrett (‘17) has experienced this first hand as she enters her first and last year at Collegiate.
Moving to a completely new location is pretty familiar to Olivia. She was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and then her family moved to Phoenix, Arizona when she was one year old. Her family then returned back to Cincinnati, only to come to Charlottesville, Virginia for three years. Next on the list was Dallas, Texas for six years, then Tampa, Florida for the next three years. Then her father received a job as the Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach at the University of Richmond, and they made the move. As of June 2016, Olivia is a citizen of Richmond, Virginia.
While it can be difficult to transition into a new community, Olivia’s involvement in various activities at Collegiate has made the transition even easier than she expected. Fellow senior Ann Hammond Gift (‘17) told her about managing the varsity football team, and Olivia knew this would be a great opportunity to meet some of her new classmates. Her participation in managing football has been “very crucial to [her] because it allowed [her] to meet people very quickly,” which made the introduction to a new place much easier. Olivia also mentioned her Cougar Pal Olivia Brown (‘17) who also helped introduce her to other students and the school in general. Brown said, “Olivia [Garrett] is such a natural people-person. She immediately made friends with anybody I introduced her to. I’m really glad that she’s with us for our last year at Collegiate.” Olivia is also an active member of the dance company. Dance has provided another way to connect with classmates outside of the normal academic day. Olivia has also experienced the cultural shock that is the girls’ Brunch enthusiasm; while she is sad she did not get to participate last year, she is excited to see what all of the hype is about.
When asked about the weirdest part of coming into the school, Olivia said, “Everyone knows everyone.” Coming from a public school where each grade consisted of around 600 students, this personal element was unfamiliar to Olivia. While the transition has been somewhat difficult, she can lean on her family for support. When they moved to Tampa, her older brother was a new student his senior year, and Olivia was a freshmen at the same school. Now, Olivia is a new student for her senior year, and her little sister is new as a freshman. While her older brother and sister are in college now at Belmont University and University of Georgia, respectively, the siblings have easily bonded over their many moves and difficulties when entering into a new environment.
While she is enjoying her time in Richmond, she admitted that Tampa was the hardest place to leave. “I wanted to have the sentimental senior year with my best friends, but it has been great since I’ve moved here,” she stated. Olivia also pointed out her appreciation of Richmond’s beautiful greenery and stated, “Tampa is mostly palm trees and concrete.” She mentioned that she is excited to actually experience all four seasons.
In the academic world, Olivia immediately noticed some benefits of the private school setting, pointing out the close teacher-student relationships and the extensive opportunities offered at Collegiate. She mentioned the wide array of clubs and the many international trips.
Being a new student senior year is not easy, but Olivia feels at home, as she enthusiastically said, “Everyone has been so welcoming and incredibly nice.” If you see Olivia walking in the halls, performing in the dance studio, or running around before a football game, make sure to say hello!
Photos courtesy of Olivia Garrett.