Olivia Fasullo: Hamilton's History Student of the Year
It's official! STM’s Olivia Fasullo is Hamilton’s History Student of the Year. From a group of three finalists, Olivia was chosen as the recipient of the Hamilton Historical Board’s Susan E. Bennetto Award in February at the City of Hamilton’s Heritage Week celebrations. The award, sponsored by the City of Hamilton and the Hamilton Historical Board, recognizes the Hamilton secondary school student who best demonstrates interest and involvement in history, heritage, and civics in both a school setting and the community at large. When asked what her initial reaction was to hearing her name announced as winner, Olivia replied “…pride, excitement, my heart was racing and I was worried about falling.” As recipient of the Susan E. Bennetto Award, Olivia received a plaque, a cash prize, and will work as an intern for the City of Hamilton this summer.
Those who know Olivia know that she is enthusiastic about history. History courses have filled a significant portion of her timetable throughout her years at STM. She studied Canadian History and Civics & Citizenship in grade 10, both American and World history in grade 11, and both Canadian history and World History since the 15th Century in grade 12. Olivia, by her own admission, will take “any available history courses”, but it is British history, specifically the Renaissance period, that interests her the most. STM History teacher, Mr. Hall, describes Olivia as”…a great student who had a terrific work ethic, cared about the quality of her work, and showed this in both her research and her writing.”
Olivia credits her father, Sam Fasullo, with instilling a love for history in her at a young age. He introduced Olivia to Hamilton’s rich history by driving her around town, pointing out historical sites, providing interesting details and background stories, and taking her to libraries to expand their knowledge. Olivia proudly stated that she “…grew up watching The History Channel with my dad.”
When asked why history appeals to her, Olivia emphatically replied, “History gives dimension to the world today. Personally, it gives me a deeper understanding of what’s going on. I also like to look at causes and effects, at what started a conflict, how it was resolved and how it affects the world today.”
Mrs. Galli, the STM Guidance Counsellor who nominated Olivia for the award, stated “…I’ve never met anyone who is so passionate about the subject. When Olivia talks about history, her eyes actually light up.” It also helped that Olivia met so many of the award’s criteria. Aside from her extensive study of history, Olivia has demonstrated considerable involvement in a variety of related activities, both in and out of school. As a co-founder of MORE News, STM’s on-line student newspaper, Olivia is directly involved in reporting and documenting school events. Olivia believes her work with the school newspaper played a big part in her winning the award because “ journalism is history on the go.” As well, Olivia has written historical fiction, using archival materials, for the Haunted Hamilton website and her volunteer work in MPP Monique Taylor’s office has given her much insight and appreciation for the work of civil servants.
When Olivia attends McMaster University in September, surprisingly, it’s not a history degree that she’ll be pursuing. Instead, Olivia will study political science, but she plans to complete a minor in history. In response to the question “Why?”, Olivia replied, “I love history, but I want to be a part of history. In the future when people study history, I want them to look at what I’ve done.” With such dreams and ambition, Olivia Fasullo may very well end up making history and earning a place in the history books that have been so influential in her life.