Above: Olivia Passaretti’s parking space became a shrine last week.
New Year’s Eve tends to be a day full of hope and excitement for the possibility of change. This year would bring on change for many of the East Greenwich community but not a welcome one. On Jan. 1, Olivia Passaretti, a carefree, charismatic, and loving 17-year-old, died in a car accident. One that could have been avoided if it wasn’t for the actions of Aramis Segura, which resulted in his running her car off the road, causing her death. Her sudden death has caused indescribable pain to her friends and family.
Olivia was a junior at East Greenwich High School. On Monday, Jan. 3, her friends, classmates, and teachers walked into school without her. Students arranged a small vigil for her at her parking spot, #25, that morning before school. It was a heartbreaking moment for many students as they brought bouquets of flowers to lay on her spot.
“The week before school, we both asked each other what number is most special to us, I said 9 and 24, while she said 25. I asked why that is, she said it was her father’s birthday,” recounted Seneca Muscatelli last week. Seneca and Olivia both parked in the same spots together each day. Olivia’s spot is now blocked off and is filled with candles and flowers from students.
That Monday was nowhere close to normal. Guidance counselors set up stations in the gym and auditorium to help out students throughout the school day. Students were allowed to leave class and talk with counselors whenever they felt the need.
“I didn’t go to any classes on Monday, I sat in the cafeteria and the auditorium the entire day. The school did a good job letting the students grieve and be together without pressuring us with schoolwork that day. I like how they set up the cafeteria with things to color or write with, gave us food, and talked to us. All of the teachers I talked to were very understanding and wanted to help us through this, “ said Lana Diluro.
It was extremely difficult for many students to get through. It’s one thing to know your friend is gone, and it’s a completely different thing to actually see Olivia not there. Not walking into class with her magnetic energy. Though teachers tried their best to be understanding and guidance counselors offered support, it didn’t get easier as the week went on. it’s
“Classes moved like molasses honestly, it was like I was moving through mud all week,” said Lauren Reikrud. “School seemed so slow mostly because of where my mind was at, worrying about my friends and losing focus on everything.”
Piper Smith shared similar sentiments, “Classes were not the same as normal, it was obvious that this dark cloud was looming over everyone, and there were many tears and hugs to go around. It was beautiful how the school came together for Olivia, and really supported one another during this difficult time.”
As the week progressed the school worked to honor Olivia’s legacy. On Tuesday, Jan 4, Olivia’s softball team held a candlelight vigil in her memory. Despite the cold night, the East Greenwich community came together to share warm words and celebrate Olivia’s life. It offered a way for students to fully accept what had happened and be there for each other, as described by senior Nate Plympton, “The hardest part of the week other than first finding out, was the vigil. I feel as though it was the point where the reality of the situation truly struck me. It was hard for me to see so many people around me so sad which just added on to the hurt of the situation.”
Other efforts were made to honor Olivia. The school’s indoor track team created stickers to be worn on their jerseys during meets that have her initials. The Hockey team, too, will be getting stickers with the number 3 on them on their helmets – that was her number on softball. The loss of Olivia has been felt across the whole school.
“We would go to all the games together,” recalled Gracie Kauffman, Olivia’s girlfriend. “We supported everyone. She always messed up directions though, but we always got there but maybe a little late. Or she would bring me to my soccer practices and games and watch them. Even when it wasn’t important she liked watching me play the sport that she hated.”
Olivia was truly everyone’s biggest cheerleader and had nothing but love to give to everyone around her. Even during this dark time, the light she brought to the school will always be remembered.
Students share memories of Olivia:
“The year we met, we couldn’t stop talking about the connections we had, we both had unreal similarities that I don’t think anyone else would understand. it was unbreakable. It was more than a friendship could ask for. All of the endless laughs, it’s something we always did. The week before school, we both asked each other what number is most special to us, I said 9 and 24, while she said 25. I asked why that is, she said her father’s birthday.
I said in awe, it was perfect that our numbers were right next to each other. From that day on, we parked every morning next to each other, looked over with the biggest smiles once we got there, grabbed our bags, exchanged Dunkin coffees, and gave each other the biggest hug saying, “wassup forbid!!” and walking into school talking about our upcoming days, spending after school and weekends together and at the end of the school day, we gave each other hugs once again. I love how my days began and ended with such a beautiful soul.” – Seneca Muscatelli
“My favorite memories all come from 5th and 4th grade where we first became friends. I loved just how kind and approachable she was and how she basically found every way possible to connect with me and make it clear how much she cared about me and everyone else around her.” – Nate Plympton
“My favorite memory of Olivia was in math class. We would do partner activities together and make fun of each other’s mistakes, oftentimes we would be bothering the entire class with our nonstop laughing. She was so loud and her laugh was so contagious.” – Lauren Reikhrud
“I think Olivia’s greatest trait was the way she seemingly created happiness wherever she went. I first met her at a Halloween get-together we had last October. Even though she was tired and slightly dehydrated (resulting in an awful headache for her) she still managed to make everyone laugh, cracking jokes even as Gracie insisted she sit down and rest. It’s a beautiful thing to see someone so selfless and so aware of those around them. It made a lot of sense she was dressed up as Aang, the bubbly, carefree main character from the show Avatar.” – Morgan Walsh
“My favorite memory with Olivia was all of the rides home she would give me during her time on the field hockey team. We shared many laughs, ranted about our lives, and had many deep conversations that helped us grow to become friends. Olivia was one of the best listeners. I know she always made me feel heard and would supply the best advice. Not only that but she had the best stories and usually could not get through them without that contagious laugh of hers. That laugh is missed by so many.” – Piper Smith
“My favorite memory of Olivia is the one I shared during my speech at the vigil. That entire night was my favorite memory but specifically when we asked for a Chips Ahoy McFlurry from the McDonalds drive-through and they said, “A large sprite?” It was so funny because of how hard we were laughing, we were hysterical. I even mentioned that night to Olivia on 12/30/21 over the phone and we talked about how funny that moment was. She had such a contagious laugh that made it 10x funnier. – Lana Diluro
“Have you ever met someone who could make you laugh until you cry, or feel so comfortable even after knowing them for only 10 minutes? That’s who Olivia was to me and many other people. I could share about a hundred memories with you and you wouldn’t be bored with one, but one of my favorite memories was homecoming. Before homecoming, she came to my house for pictures and from there we danced all night and had the best time. By the end, Olivia and a couple of friends and I decided we were hungry and wanted Applebee’s. So we all hopped into the car and went off, listening to music, telling stories, and cracking jokes. There was never a dull moment spent with Olivia. The rest of the night was filled with laughter, I will never forget that night and the many other memories I got to share with her.” – Catherine Anderson
Gracie Kauffman had several memories:
- Chemistry Class – We were lab partners and we did all our work together. I taught her the material most of the time. We would make fun of each other and laugh, pulling pranks on each other. For example when I pulled the chair out from underneath her.
- She is a black belt and I underestimated how strong she really is. She would run at me and play fight. It would result in her grabbing my legs and me hanging over the back of her.
- She was a very thoughtful person. For Christmas she was very sweet and gave me a printed-out picture of us every day of December. Each pic had a note on the back that would come together once I had all the pictures.
- Beautiful writer. She would write music with me or even write small notes to each other just to get each other to smile. We were making thankful cards in Chemistry one day. We both wrote ours out but what she didn’t know is I gave my chemistry teacher a note I made for her for the next day. So when Olivia walked into chem class she was surprised with a handwritten note that I made expressing how thankful I was for her. Another time I wrote her a poem. This poem brought her to tears and she read it frequently. It was a 4-page poem on the chapters of her life. We played music when I read it to her for the first time.
- Supportive. We would go to all the games together. We supported everyone. She always messed up directions though. Every time. She would miss an exit or turn. And we would end up going the opposite way of our destination. We always got there but maybe a little late. Or she would bring me to my soccer practices and games and watch them. Even when it wasn’t important she liked watching me play the sport she hated. She grew to like it because of me.
- Funny. Olivia was making a video for me as she walked into her room but Victoria (her sister) was hiding behind her door waiting to scare her, also recording a video. So I received two different videos of Olivia screaming.
- Thoughtful. Olivia cared for not only me and everyone in our school but my younger siblings. Olivia would come to my house for 30 minutes just to do Rubix Cube with my younger brother Charlie. She bought both my sister Ella and Charlie a Christmas gift and always talked to them.
- The day Olivia asked me to be her girlfriend, we went to Panera with two other friends. When we got there, she got a call from Dick’s Sporting Goods, where she worked, saying she needed to come to work immediately. Olivia said, ‘Of course I can get there,’ and I was so mad. She rushed out as fast as she could and forgot her wallet on the ground. She called me five minutes later and asked if I could come to bring her wallet. So my friends agreed to go to Olivia’s house and drop off the wallet. Little did I know both of my friends were in on this. When I got to the house Olivia came out of the car with a bouquet of flowers and a sign blasting our favorite song.”
Contributor Morgan Walsh is a junior at East Greenwich High School.