Student Spotlight: Olivia Kirkland

Olivia Kirkland is a genuine, fun-loving teenage girl who attends Cherokee Christian School (CCS). Next month she will be 14 years old. She has a love for tennis, and you can find her on the courts every time she gets a chance.

Some of her main interests are volunteering and giving back to her community. She has donated food to Forever Fed, Must Ministries, and Never Alone with money she has earned babysitting or from her allowance. Her favorite opportunity to serve is at Hillside UMC as an usher. This is her fourth year on this team. You also find Olivia serving on the Christmas Angels Team at Hillside during the holidays. It’s a program very near to her heart. Olivia also loves volunteering her time to the Distinguished Young Women Georgia program.

Olivia is thankful for many people in her life who have helped grow her faith and confidence. She is thankful for Mrs. Beth Federman, director of guest services at Hillside UMC that took a chance on a 10-year-old to add her to the guest services usher team. Olivia has said many times, “I see something in Mrs. Beth that just makes me want to serve.” From Mrs. Federman, Olivia has developed patience, discernment, flexibility, and learned the power of a smile. Olivia is thankful for Mrs. Kim Hellenga, one of Olivia’s teachers who gave her advice to be herself, be who God wants her to be, and not look back or let anyone get in the way of her success. Olivia is also thankful for her mother who always gives her good advice and builds her up through prayer and encouragement.

Tell us a little bit about your family.

Lately, we like to have dinners out on our front porch to get fresh air after being inside all day. We like to go to see movies and travel, even though we can’t really do that right now. We like to volunteer and give back to the community. And even enjoying going to an occasional Braves games.


Where are some of your favorite places you’ve been?

We visited the Dominican Republic which was super fun. We’ve been to Costa Rica and we went to The Bahamas when I was younger. Usually, we go on a family vacation every other summer.

Olivia Swimming with dolphins in 2019 at Discovery Cove in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

How long have you lived in Woodstock?

I’ve lived in Woodstock for my entire life. My family has been here for more than twenty years.


What are some of your favorite things about Woodstock?

I love going out to downtown Woodstock and finding the Woodstock Rocks. There’s a Facebook page and it shows all the creativity that goes into them. We bought a bag of rocks, painted them, and hid them in our neighborhood in the past. We’ve been seeing a lot more lately because everyone has the time to do it.

Woodstock Rocks

How has your school experience changed since shelter-in-place went into effect? Is there anything you like better? What is the hardest part?

I like it because I can sleep in and start when I want to. But it’s kind of challenging without the structure and I miss my friends at school.

Are you able to connect with your friends?



 What are your current plans after high school and what inspired you to choose this path?

I want to go to college and figure it out from there.

I love that authentic answer! What are your favorite subjects in school?

Math stands out to me. My math teacher helps us depending on what stages of learning we are. It helps a lot knowing she is there. I also had a film class which was fun because we got to make films and be creative through that.


If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be and why?

I would want to go to Hawaii so I could learn how to surf and just tour the islands. This has always been my answer if I could travel anywhere.


What is your favorite book you’ve read in school and why?

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry. It’s about history before I was born, and I think that’s really good to know about it.


Do you like history?



What’s the best advice you ever received from a teacher?  Who was the teacher?

It was my teacher in elementary school right before I left, Mrs. Kim Hellenga.  She gave me advice to just be myself at my new school. She was retiring when I left public school and it always stuck with me.

What does that mean to you to be yourself?

I try to be authentic and supportive of the people around me. I know my way is not the only way of looking at things, so I encourage people to be themselves too.

Olivia Kirkland has lived in Woodstock for all of her nearly fourteen years.

If you could choose anyone that is alive today, and not a relative: with whom would you

love to have lunch?  Why? And where, locally, would you meet for lunch?

I have two best friends. One of them moved from Woodstock to the other side of the state, and the other one moved to Tennessee. I would want them to meet each other because they’ve never met, and I would love for them to have lunch at Canyons Fresh Grill.


What is your favorite thing or something unique you love about Woodstock?

The community here is really nice. You don’t have to really try to have friends, the people are always here for you. It’s a supportive community.


Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?

I will probably be going to college, thinking about a career, thinking about where I want to live and what I want to do.


Who/what inspires you to be better?

The Bible and the pastors at my church, they inspire me. All of my friends inspire me to be better.


If you could go back over your entire school career, what is something you would do


I would probably go to a private school a little earlier because it helped me a lot. And tennis because I really enjoy it and I wish I would have started earlier.

One of Olivia’s favorite pastimes is playing tennis.

Who or what do you miss the most right now?

I miss my friends of course, but I also miss being able to go out. I miss going to school, I miss going to church, all of it.


What’s the first thing you want to do when this quarantine is over?

I’m going to leave the house. I want to go to a restaurant – I don’t care which restaurant, I just want to go somewhere! I would like to get my nails done and go shopping all day.

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