Alumni Spotlight: Blake Olivier
Blake Olivier, 1998 graduate of East Jefferson High School.
Tell us a little bit about how you're connected with Jefferson Parish Schools.
My mother spent 42 years as an educator within Jefferson Parish Schools. She was a teacher at Bunche Elementary and then worked with JD Meisler from the time the school opened until she retired. So, really all my life I've been around Jefferson Parish Schools. I attended Green Park Elementary then I went to JD Meisler to be near my mom. I graduated from East Jefferson in 1998.
How did your experience at East Jefferson High School prepare you for your future?
I think we take for granted the diversity in Jefferson Parish Schools. I am appreciative that I had the opportunity to engage with and learn from the cultural melting pot. It wasn’t until I moved with my career to Georgia that I realized how unique my school experience was. When I played football at East Jefferson, my teammates felt like my brothers. It didn’t matter their race, religion or background. We were all brothers playing for the same team. Now that I have to manage 250-300 store associates, that experience really helps me connect to people from different backgrounds.
Is there a memory that stands out to you from your time in school?
I think back fondly to the time I spent playing athletics and the camaraderie we built as a team. My closest friends, even now more than 20+ years removed from high school, are my friends from football. It’s fun being a store manager back here in Kenner with my childhood home less than a mile away. Every couple of weeks I see somebody I went to school with who I haven't seen in twenty years. When we see each other, the years and life events are removed and we pick up the conversation like we saw each other yesterday.
How did Home Depot get involved in partnering with Jefferson Parish Schools?
One of the administrators at Greenlawn Terrace built a relationship with one of my colleagues in our tool rental department, and we began having a conversation about the school’s needs. We quickly realized that Home Depot was in a position to help. Home Depot is committed as an organization to supporting local community projects. Personally, I really enjoy our partnerships with schools because of my history with Jefferson Parish Schools and being the son of a teacher. Leading into the Christmas holiday, each Home Depot store was given $1,000 to donate back to the community as part of Operation Surprise. After talking with the administration at Greenlawn, we decided that money would be best spent covering the costs of a washer and dryer for the school. The school also needed a storage facility, and we donated the wood and then worked with Behr to donate paint.
Why is it important for businesses to partner with schools and give back to the community?
By partnering and giving back to the community, we can build real community relationships and become more than a center of commerce. It helps us build a relationship with our customers on a deeper level.
If you could just give our students one piece of advice, what would your advice be?
It's an old cliche, but reach for the stars. It’s only crazy until somebody does it. Also, don’t compare yourself to other students. My experience at Jefferson Parish Schools enabled me to provide for my family and achieve a great quality of life. Life is what you make of your circumstances. If you apply yourself, good things will come your way. If you apply yourself and put forth the effort, you’re going to get that back.