senior Olivia Passalino took advantage of every minute of her high school years. Her generosity and talents have inspired and helped others in multiple ways and her selflessness hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Passalino recently was honored with the Lake Forest High School Tradition of Service Award, given to one student who dedicated their four years of high school to serving the community.
Not only did Passalino receive a service award from Lake Forest High School, she also was presented with a community service award from Highland Park High School for her work in the Dancer to Dancer organization that she and Nina Tannenbaum founded.
Dancer to Dancer was an initiative that Olivia and Nina began because they recognized that there were many students in the Highland Park/Highwood communities who wanted to learn to dance but didn’t have the financial resources to take lessons.
Olivia spent countless hours teaching young girls to dance at no cost to them. While she was sharing her time and talents on the dance floor, she also found the time to help other organizations and make the honor roll.
Q. What inspired you to form Dancer to Dancer?
A. Nina Tannenbaum and I started Dancer to Dancer because we felt the need to teach excited young girls to dance. We were so grateful to have had the opportunity to dance throughout most of our lives, and wanted the girls from Highland Park and Highwood to have that opportunity as well.
Q. In regards to your students, what has been your biggest accomplishment in Dancer to Dancer?
A. The girls that stayed in one of the two classes for the past two years are automatically going to be able to participate in dance when they reach high school. The majority of the dancers will go to Highland Park High School and now be in the Highland Park Dance Ensemble.
Q. What does it mean to you to be recognized for your service to the community by both Lake Forest High School and the Highland Park/Deerfield High School districts?
A. I am happy that we are all one community, and that we share a common interest in helping others regardless of boundaries of villages, faiths, or cultural backgrounds.
Q. What other service organizations have you been involved in at Lake Forest High School?
A. I have done more community service including spending time and taking care of my buddy, Kimmy, at Camp Hope, a camp for children and adults with developmental disabilities. I was in charge of Kimmy’s well-being, but she taught me so much.
I also went on an Appalachian work trip to Rugby, Tenn. We built a house for a woman whose ex-husband burned it. It was an amazing experience that I’ll never forget.
Q. What will happen to the Dancer to Dancer program once you go to college?
A. Nina Tannenbaum and I are interviewing dancers, ages 15 to 18, to replace us as we go off to college next fall. We hope that others will continue to care for these young dancers. They are inspiring! They have an end-of-year recital coming up June 11 in the auditorium at Highland Park High School, and everyone is welcome!