Yesterday, Bay View Academy students in Pre-K through grade twelve gathered in the auditorium for what they thought was to be a Skype conversation with reigning Miss Universe and Bay View Academy alumna, Olivia Culpo. The event was scheduled to take place in observance of International Women’s Day and as such, a group of twelve students of all ages was dressed in the costume of their native countries, including India, China, Russia and Nigeria.
Lower and Middle School Principal, Cynthia Lorincz (Attleboro, MA) opened the festivities with a brief history about International Women’s Day, which takes place on March 8th; has been celebrated since 1909 and is now an official holiday in 28 countries worldwide. She said that throughout the month of March, “We gather to celebrate our oneness, our uniqueness and our achievements as women.”
Upper School Principal, Colleen Gribbin (Cumberland, RI) then took the podium to welcome Olivia, who appeared on a large projector screen that was set up on stage for the Skype conversation. Without warning, the connection with Olivia was suddenly cut and she disappeared from view. Ms. Gribbin assured the disappointed crowd that despite the technical difficulties, they would have the connection back up quickly with Olivia. To pass the time, Bay View music teacher, Diane Gualtieri (Warwick, RI), struck up a familiar tune on the piano and all spontaneously sang along.
Suddenly Miss Universe, Olivia Culpo, walked out on stage waving and saying “Surprise!” The students, faculty and staff jumped to their feet and cheered an enthusiastic welcome as shouts and gasps of astonishment filled the audience. Olivia thanked her younger sister, Sophie, who is a sophomore at Bay View, for keeping the secret and not telling anyone that she would be there in person.
Ms. Gribbin welcomed back another Bay View alumna, Joan Moran-Izzo, independent Public Relations and Communications Professional as well as former Channel 12 Fox News Reporter, to serve as a moderator for a question and answer session between Olivia and the Bay View students. Joan opened with an introduction of the girls in international dress, explained their outfits, and gave them each the opportunity to greet Olivia in their native language. She then opened the floor to questions, starting with one of her own: How did Bay View prepare Olivia for her present role as Miss Universe? Olivia answered, “Bay View taught me the importance of giving and taking from my environment.” She went on to explain that at all levels of the pageant, every contestant was there to do their absolute best, but instead of being intimidated by it, she embraced it. She explained that she knew from her Bay View experience that she could draw and learn from all of the women and use it “as an opportunity to become better.”
Elizabeth Lynch-Gadaleta, a seventh grader from North Providence, stood up to ask Olivia how she defines beauty. Olivia stressed that “beauty is absolutely within,” and that it “is about who you are inside and your ability to express that to others.”
Senior Hannah Lee from North Scituate, asked Olivia, “Now that you have been able to begin travelling around the world as Miss Universe, what is one thing that you see as the biggest challenge to women around the world?” Olivia responded that it’s the “lack of equal opportunity in education” that she has seen in various places. She stressed to the students how lucky they are to be at Bay View and that they should take full advantage of the opportunities that they have daily at the Academy, absorbing and appreciating all that they are taught.
“What is your motto?” was the question to Olivia from Sarah Curran, a sixth grader from East Providence. Olivia laughed and said “I have many mottos! It depends on the day!” She went on to say that one of her favorites it to “always stay true to yourself and lead by your own example.”
Olivia entertained the crowd with her talk about travelling and the different cultures, cuisines and customs she has experienced. In response to a question about food from Courtney Ponte, a senior from Coventry, Olivia said one of the oddest things she was served (but wouldn't try) was a whole goat’s mouth, complete with teeth, tongue and gums.
Colleen Gribbin wrapped up the question and answer session by asking Olivia what Bay View means to her. Olivia responded, “Bay View means so much to me!” and continued to say that she “ couldn't have become Miss Universe if not for this school.” In closing she reminded the students to lead by their own example and “don’t forget where you come from.”
The students who were dressed in the traditional styles of their countries of origin were:
Hannah Parisella (China) Hope, RI, Grade 2
Lily Gucfa (China) Rehoboth, MA, Grade 6
Sruthelaya Mohan (India) East Providence, RI, Grade 3
Teddy Martin (Korea) Providence, RI, Grade 4
Grace Martin (Korea) Providence, RI, Grade 5
Seraphina Negash (Eritrea) Providence, RI, Grade 8
Stephanie Labib (Egypt) Swansea, MA, Grade 11
Natalie Fernandes (Cape Verde) Seekonk, MA, Grade 12
Marina Pin (Cambodia) Fall River, MA, Grade 10
Chanda Pen (Cambodia) Fall River, MA, Grade 12
Anwuli Onyejose (Nigeria) East Greenwich, RI, Grade 12
Daria Smuk, (Russia), Smithfield, RI, Grade 3
The students who were able to ask Olivia Questions:
Hannah Lee (North Scituate), Grade 12
Bianca McAfee (Greenville), Grade 10
Hope Briden (East Providence), Grade 7
Alexa Scala (East Providence), Grade 11
Emily Petrie (Seekonk, MA), Grade 12
Sarah Curran (East Providence), Grade 6
Oyeyemi Kolawole (Providence), Grade 10
Elizabeth Lynch-Gadaleta (North Providence), Grade 7
Courtney Ponte (Coventry), Grade 12