Erica Olavarria might have just tap-danced her way into a spot as Bothell High’s co-valedictorian if it were possible to audition for the role.
Instead, she went about it the old-fashioned way — by earning perfect grades.
The 17-year-old Kirkland resident will be graduating a year ahead of her peers with what is, so far, a 4.0 grade-point average.
“I never set my sights on being valedictorian,” she said. “I just wanted to get good grades. I guess they go hand-in-hand.”
She’ll graduate with her fellow Cougars at 7 p.m. June 12 at the University of Washington.
Olavarria got the jump on finishing school after beginning kindergarten a year early. She had excelled in all aspects of learning while attending a Montessori preschool.
“You get to pick what you do in Montessori school, and I guess I just picked to learn a lot,” Olavarria said. “I wanted to read early so I could be like my brother.”
That same brother was the reason Olavarria shunned Juanita High for Bothell.
“Everyone always called me ‘Victor’s little sister,’” she said. “I didn’t want to go to the same school as my brother.”
Olavarria will attend Oklahoma City University (OCU) next fall, where she plans to major in dance.
“I’m excited to be leaving home and going out of state like I wanted to do,” she said. “I don’t really want to leave my boyfriend. That’s the one thing that’s not exciting.”
Olavarria will be using merit and talent scholarships from Oklahoma City University and the Northshore Parent Teacher Student Association to pay for most of her $27,000 in yearly tuition.
OCU is a small private school that Olavarria chose specifically because of its burgeoning dance program.
“It’s a fantastic place,” she said. “They have a great cafeteria and a new dance building that’s huge and wonderful.”
Olavarria has been dancing since the age of 3, practicing tap, jazz, ballet, modern and hip-hop.
She currently teaches at Studio 1 in Woodinville, and also worked this year as co-choreographer for the Kenmore Junior High dance-drill team.
Olavarria’s other activities have included participation in Bothell’s theater program, singing alto for the school’s women’s and concert choirs, and working as a peer coach for the contained learning center.
She also took classes through the Northshore School District’s Running Start program, and completed advanced-placement courses in English and calculus.
“She’s had to balance a lot of different things,” said Bothell High counselor Darrell Lee. “She’s accessed a lot of different parts of the high school. She’s not just a brain.”