Editor’s note: In June, many outstanding Key Peninsula residents will graduate from Peninsula High School and move on to college. We congratulate these young men and women on their achievements. Olivia Konicek is one of many students who deserve recognition, and embodies the best of her generation.

Longbranch resident Olivia Konicek has been named a 2007 Student of Distinction. And well she should be.

Olivia Konicek checks in Spencer Baebler and other student volunteers for Campus Clean-Up. Photo by Mindi LaRose

From her performance as a third grader in Evergreen Elementary, where she excelled at virtually any project in which she was involved, through her outstanding performance as a student at Key Peninsula Middle School, and now approaching graduation with honors from Peninsula High School, she has been not only a student of distinction, but an athlete of distinction and a student leader of distinction.

At KPMS, where for all three years she maintained a 4.0 GPA, she took woodshop as a seventh grader. As a class project, she built an Adirondack chair admired by her peers and teachers. Ever generous, when someone asked if she would make one for them, she turned out another excellent chair. When her alma mater Evergreen’s PTSA held a fund-raising auction, she contributed a double Adirondack that brought in almost $400.

As requests for the chairs began to multiply, in order to gain access to a more extensive variety of woods and to achieve discount prices on them, she became a licensed business owner —at age 14.

Not only did Konicek continue to excel academically and maintain her 4.0 average at KPMS, she was a sought-after athlete and was voted team captain on the basketball team in ninth grade. When an injury took her out of basketball, she joined the PHS swim team and was on the varsity squad for three years; she also played water polo for two years.

Over the years, she capitalized on the good fortune of traveling to Europe, Alaska, and South America with her grandfather and with environmentally responsible groups to absorb knowledge of various countries and cultures, and to study and work with those who, among other things, worked with hands-on concerned peers and mentors in saving sea turtles from predators and poachers. Konicek was always comfortable in whatever surroundings she found herself, enjoyed experiencing and learning from different cultures, sometimes rather primitive living conditions, and the cuisines of any nation.

She has helped set up the annual Zoo Lights program at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. She is a generous giver who inspires others to follow her lead. She organized a schoolwide service project supportive of the Holiday Helper Program of the Children’s Home Society. Konicek rallied 325 students in 13 classes.

“Together, we sponsored 53 kids for the holiday season, each with an individualized gift/wish and two clothing items,” she said. “Our PHS students donated over $2,000 worth of gifts, thus providing for 17 percent of the total number of children sponsored.”

Konicek’s list of community involvement is extensive. Among other things, she was a YMCA Camp Seymour cabin leader intern for summer of 2006 and volunteered at camp a leader, teacher and staff assistant; was cabin leader of 12 girls for Evergreen’s fifth-grade camp in the spring of 2006, and tutored second grade students in reading at Evergreen Elementary once a week through Communities In Schools-Peninsula. She was a nominee for the Key Peninsula Citizen of the Year award in 2004.

On meeting a Hungarian exchange student at PHS, she befriended her and on many days drove her to meet and visit with a large number of Konicek’s friends and to become acquainted with our part of the world.

She served as President of PHS National Honor Society’s 125 members last year, was CEO of a “business” with a team of 16 juniors during Washington Business Week, and won numerous athletic awards including the Seamount League Junior of the Year award, Most Inspirational, Most Improved, Rookie of the Year, and Senior of the Year for her PHS swimming and water polo career.

Despite all this, she is utterly lacking in conceit, always considerate of others, quietly, modestly self-assured, goal-oriented, confident, helpful and, although she could likely attend any university anywhere, probably with a substantial scholarship, she has elected to attend Western Washington University where she has been accepted in the school’s Honor Program.

“It’s a good school offering just what I want,” she said. What a credit to the community to have such an outstanding young citizen.

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