November 20, 2013 - By Ana Cordera
A piece of Olivia Spolyar's artwork for AP art class. (click for larger version)
Review Special Writer
Olivia Spolyar lived a life full of happiness and accomplishments, even at the tender age of 17.
Olivia, a senior at Lake Orion High School, died on November 11 in a two-car accident in Brandon Township. She was riding with a friend on Seymour Lake Road, west of Sashabaw, when the car hit a patch of ice and spun across the center line where it was struck by another car.
The death shocked and saddened friends, classmates and teachers at Lake Orion who admired her drive, loving nature and talents.
Dani Kerwin, one of her best friends, said Olivia was happy to be alive and lived accordingly.
"She said to me one time, 'I think I have a disorder where I'm too happy all the time and I'm too excited about life,"" Kerwin recalled.
A two-year AP Art student, the secretary of the National Art Honor Society and a photographer for the music-blogging website Buzznet.com, Olivia was involved with many things and still managed to do well in school.
Kerwin described her as intelligent and wise beyond her years.
"She could pick up anything and just be great at it. But she found art and she was brilliant," Kerwin said.
Indeed, her friends and classmates were taken aback by her talent. "Her photographs looked like they belonged in (the magazine) Vogue," Abby Ribeiro, a fellow classmate said. Others deeply valued her critiques of their art.
Those who knew Olivia said she was an extremely gifted photographer and also interested in music. She used both passions to land the Buzznet opportunity. She took numerous photos from the photo pits of bands in venues such as DTE Energy Center and the Palace of Auburn Hills. .
As a youngster she played softball and soccer and later was involved in People to People Student Ambassador. She went to Europe. She was involved in the National Honor Society, National Art Honor Society, and Academic Service Learning. She won numerous awards in arts and photography, including Gold and Silver Key awards, Buzzi Award for journalism and photography and Best Concert Photography.
Other students recognized her abilities and talents and deeply valued her critiques of their art
"You knew it was going to look better (if you took her advice," Miriam Knight, one of her best friends said. "If she said she liked it, you were like 'it's done, I'm not touching it'. Olivia likes it."
Her dedication and talent with art and photography led her to dream big. She had recently applied to Pratt Institute and Parsons School of Art, both well-known art schools in New York. She also applied at Art Center College in California and the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. She took some early college courses through the College for Creative Studies, Oakland Technical Center and Kendall College.
"She wanted to go and she just wanted to see the world," Kerwin said. "She was excited to live."
Her friends thought she would have easily gotten accepted at any of the schools and had no doubt that she would have achieved all of her goals.
"She was going to be so successful," Kerwin declared. "That was one of her goals in life, just to be successful."
"She already was," Knight then added.
Despite losing their best friend, Kerwin and Knight said Olivia had a huge impact on their lives and others who knew her.
"She inspired me to go to college," Kerwin said. "She just made me want to be better and I'm going to be better for her."
Olivia is survived by parents, David and Jo Ellen; a sister, Sophia, a brother Sonny and grandparents, Donald and M.J. Spolyar, of Cadillac.
Funeral Services were held on Friday, November 15.