Sticking On The Same Path

Seniors and semifinalist National Merit scholars Olivia Overlease and Grace Hill have been friends since kindergarten and continue to deeper their bond through their activities.


submitted by Olivia Overlease

Senior Olivia Overlease (left) and Grace Hill (right) go out to dinner at North Italia early Sept. “Grace and I got together with four of our closest friends from Sion and it was a really fun night to get to spend with friends,” Overlease said.

Callie Cameron, A&E Editor

The falling snow sparkled through the sunlight on the top of Snow Creek Mountain, as seniors Olivia Overlease and Grace Hill stared down the hill on their skis. After driving an hour and a half, Overlease shared something she loved with her best friend since kindergarten on their Monday off of school junior year. The two National Merit semifinalists first met in kindergarten at Cure of Ars Catholic School. Even though Hill had never skied before, Overlease taught her the ins and outs of skiing. After several accidents on the Beginner’s Hill and issues with her ski popping out, Hill never gave up according to Overlease. Hill preserved and skied down the top of the mountain, just in time to see the snow fall over them.

“That’s one of the things I admire about Grace,” Overlease said. “Her ski kept popping off on the hill but she never gave up and continued with that mentality. We build each other up by helping when one of us needs something and supporting each other especially in sports and school.” 

They had every single class together freshman year and each year after that they continued to stay on a similar track. When one struggled with a confusing topic like math, the other would try to help them. They regularly study together and help each other.

We build each other up by helping when one of us needs something and supporting each other especially in sports and school,” Hill said. “We will usually ask each other questions about the same classes we have and share notes and study guides, etc. The best thing about our friendship is that we can call each other out for our mistakes and use that to build each other up.” 

Seniors Grace Hill (left) and Olivia Overlease (right) take pictures before their Kindergarten class at Cure of Ars Catholic School.

As semifinalists, they are the highest-scoring program entrants in the state for the SAT and represent the top 0.5 percent of Missouri’s senior students. In February, about 15,000 Semifinalists advance to Finalist standing. Within the Finalist group, winners are chosen for the Merit Scholarship based on their abilities, skills, and accomplishments. About 7,500 finalists will be selected to receive a Merit Scholarship in between the beginning the March and mid-June.

I think it’s really cool that we were both able to be National Merit scholars,” Overlease said. “We’ve grown up a lot since kindergarten but we’ve done a lot of it together.

“We’ve grown up a lot since kindergarten but we’ve done a lot of it together.”

— Olivia Overlease

Running track together, junior year both held leadership roles as team captains. The 2020 spring track season was brought to a halt due to COVID-19 and they were unable to race. However, in 2019 both girls made it to sectionals, which is the top four girls across the district. 

“I admire her work ethic,” Hill said, “both academically and in her dedication to running. Whenever Olivia receives an award or honor I always make sure I text her if I’m not present with her, or I’ll give her a hug and basically just try to celebrate her accomplishments. At track meets, I always try to make sure I’m on the sidelines cheering her on.”


After years of friendship, the pair can now pick up on non verbal cues and have conversations about almost everything according to Overlease. They will continue to run track and study together for their rigorous class together. 

“Watching Olivia and Grace transform from sweet little girls into intelligent, compassionate, driven young women of integrity has been wonderful,” Overlease’s mom, Julie said. “They have worked side-by-side through much of their schooling and share a solid friendship that is a blessing.”