For this school year’s St. Bede variety show, Olivia Wojcik sang “Defying Gravity” from her favorite musical, “Wicked.”
Feeling the vibe of the song, a group of freshmen in the front row pulled out their flashlights to help create an ambiance.
“It’s just the most amazing feeling to know they’re feeling the music with you,” Olivia, daughter of Robert and Dana Wojcik, of Peru, said of the experience.
Connecting with the audience through song is what the St. Bede senior loves most about singing.
Her mother, Dana, said Olivia sang often at home as a child. She also began singing at church when she was around 6 years old, and people would tell her mother to put Olivia in voice lessons.
At that time, Olivia wasn’t interested in singing professionally, Dana said.
That is, until she started at St. Bede and became interested in theater. As a freshman, she performed in the production of “Godspell” as part of the ensemble, and her interest and participation continued throughout her high school years.
Now a senior, Olivia’s first lead is in the school’s spring production of “Seussical.” She plays Gertrude McFuzz, an insecure, one-feathered-tail bird in love with Horton the Elephant.
“It’s a really sweet story,” she said. “I’m very excited.”
Olivia meets weekly with Kori Suarez, voice coach with Maestro and Mi Music Academy in Peru. She’s been taking lessons since July.
“She’s very enthusiastic,” Suarez said. “She’s really open to singing a lot of different styles of music and her voice can do a lot of different varieties of songs.”
Olivia takes direction well and has grown a great deal in the short time she’s been in lessons, Suarez said.
“She’s hard working and she works at it until she gets it. She’s really focused on achieving a high level of performance. It’s really nice to work with a student who has that kind of dedication,” she said.
Last year, Suarez directed the snowflake choir for a local production of “The Nutcracker,” and Olivia was part of the choir.
“I had a lot of younger members, and she was really good with the younger members of the choir. She’s just a good friend to everyone,” she said.
She plans to work with children as a career, although older ones. This fall, she’ll attend the University of Iowa to major in English, secondary education, and minor in theater.
She hopes to teach high school English.
“I don’t know where yet, but I’ve had great English teachers. I’m open to anywhere. I think it’d be awesome to come back and teach at St. Bede. I’m open to go to new places, meeting new people.”
She said her teachers had a great impact on her decision to go into teaching.
“The teachers here are just awesome, and it makes the experience that much more personalized,” she said.
In addition to plays and musicals, Olivia also is captain of the cheer squad and a member of Scholastic Bowl, Venturing Club and Lectio, which meets weekly to discuss the Bible.
“I think it’s a unique experience,” she said of her time at St. Bede. “I know our tagline is, ‘Where you belong,’ and we’re a family. You don’t realize how real it is until you get here. The friends I’ve made are my second family.”
She also enjoys spending time with her younger sister, Amanda.
“She’s the sports one, so I go to all her games,” she said.
Her mother said she’ll miss hearing her singing around the house when she goes away to school next year — but her sister won’t, she chided.
At home, Dana describes her daughter as upbeat and happy. She also gives her all to her schoolwork.
“She’s very oganized, and she really tries hard. She’s not the kind of student who always does well on tests, but she’s always trying and studying hard, and I tell her that’s all I ask for.”
Dana’s excited to see where life takes Olivia.
“I hope for her to experience the world and meet new, fun, different people. And to learn and keep learning. She loves having new experiences.”