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SENIOR STORIES: Oliver Hart finds his tune through the arts

Oliver Hart

Oliver Hart marches to the beat of his own drum. Marimba and timpani, too ... And that’s just the way he likes it.

The Thomas Nelson High School senior discovered his gift for music a little later than many of his peers. He attended parochial school in elementary until midway through eighth grade, when he transferred to Nelson County public schools.

It was a little bit of “culture shock,” he said. “I went from a class of eight kids to six different classes with 30-plus kids.” 

But that transfer also unlocked more opportunity for him, especially in the arts. During his freshman year a senior introduced him to the snare drum and he took to it naturally. By his junior year he had expanded his repertoire to the marimba and timpani and was named percussion captain. This past summer he spent two days with some of the best student musicians from throughout the state at the Eastern Kentucky University Honor Band.

His love of the arts extends beyond band. He took three years of AP art and four years of drama, where this year he plays the role of Lord Farquaad in the school’s production of “Shrek.”

“Throughout middle school, I didn't have those opportunities,” Oliver said. “These things have helped me gain a lot of personal growth and confidence in high school.”

Oliver combined his gift for the arts with an entrepreneurial spirit in 2020 when he started his own business, Oliver’s Confections. He specializes in homemade oversized cookies and other treats decorated by hand that are sold in various businesses around Bardstown and can be ordered for special delivery around the area and as far as Louisville. 

While his passion for the arts has flourished in high school and resulted in a successful confections business, his future calling is education. Both of his parents are educators, so he was already familiar with the profession. But it was just last month where his post-high school plans gained focus.

He was among a group of AP art students who went to New Haven School, where he taught fourth and fifth grade students.

“I felt like I could relate with the students, maybe more so than the teachers,” he said.

While he would love to be an art teacher, he knows from his parents’ knowledge of the education system that teaching a core curriculum area like science offers better job security (his mom is a STEAM teacher in another district and his dad is a former science teacher who is now a behavior specialist at a middle school in Jefferson County).  That’s why his plan is to become an elementary teacher, and will attend Elizabethtown Community and Technical College in the fall to begin that journey.

As he prepares to graduate, Oliver said his high school experience and his immersion in the arts that excavated his unique gifts has turned a “shocked” eighth-grader new to public schools into a young man who is equipped to realize his potential.

“If I just do something, like the EKU honor band; before I went there, I couldn't sight read music,” he said.  “It shows how fast you can grow if you really just put your mind to something. And that's something that I've watched in myself the past four years.”

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