Olivia Carter was born into a family of artists. For four years now, she has launched annual service projects to benefit impoverished crafts people overseas, as well as local arts and charities.
Now that it is time to graduate from high school, Carter will do so as valedictorian of Charter Conservatory for Liberal Arts and Technology. She arrived at CCAT the year that it opened, as a fourth-grader who had attended just one other school, Langston Chapel Elementary. Her mother, Patricia Carter, chairs the art department at Georgia Southern University. Her father, Greg, co-owner of Gallery 33 West, creates art in several formats and teaches it at CCAT. Her brother, Dylan, is a freshman at Statesboro High.
With a couple of classes already behind her from joint enrollment, Carter will enter GSU full-time this fall as part of the University Honors Program. She also has a Southern LEAD Scholarship, awarded students showing leadership potential.
For now, her intended major is Early Childhood Education.
"But majors change a lot, and I will always want to do something with art in my life, no matter what I do, because I am an artist as well," she says.
She paints landscapes and does pen and ink drawings.
Beginning in ninth grade, Carter initiated an art-related "international service project" each year. Obtaining bracelets made by families in the Philippines through Threads of Hope, she sold these this year and last at the GSU Arts Fest, with 60 percent of the money returning to the families. The other 40 percent she contributed to The Food Bank Inc., to Backpack Buddies, and to a friend's mission trip to Swaziland.
"I started it because I wanted to kind of educate the community that we can help locally and help globally," Carter said.
Her own travels include a five-week 2010 summer art session in Italy through Kennesaw State University.
Carter leaves CCAT after three years as student government secretary, the record so far.
While not denying talent and opportunity, she sees hard work as key.
"When I entered high school as a freshman, my goal for my four years was I wanted to become valedictorian, I wanted to be an honor student, and so I worked very hard to get it," Carter said.
Charter Conservatory's graduation service will take place Friday, June 3 at 7 p.m. in the Nessmith-Lane Building at GSU.