Posted by Peter Brennan on May 11, 2020
Rotary Club of Olympia
The Wheel
 
Today’s Program:  Rotary Exchange Student Year in Review
 
Meeting Called to order: President Colleen Gillespie @ 12:08 pm
 
  • Invocation by:  None
  • Pledge of Allegiance led by: President Gillespie
  • Four Way Test led by: Lynn Heinold
Guest of Rotarians:
  • Steve Hendricks
  • Elinor Hendricks
  • Rider Family
  • Sarah Huntington
  • Carin Christy
  • Rizley Cox
Announcements:
 
Classification Talks:
 
Chris Woods
 
A product of Olympia, Chris is currently serving our community as Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County.  Prior to this role, he served as Assistant Superintendent for the Tumwater School District and brings to BGCTC a long history of commitment to youth and community collaboration.
 
Raised in Thurston County, he attended Olympia schools and has 20+ years of experience working in the Olympia School District.  His first teaching job was as 3rd grade teacher at Hansen Elementary, under the leadership of club member Superintendent Al Cohen.  Later he taught 1st grade at McKinney Elementary and then 7th grade at Washington Middle School.
 
Chris then became assistant principal at Reeves Middle School, principal at Pioneer Elementary and served five years as principal at Capital High School.  He is also a graduate of Capital.   
 
Chris and his wife of 22 years, Julie, a teacher at Washington Middle School, have three children. Their oldest son, Conner, attends Grand Canyon University; their son Tyler is a senior in high school; and their daughter, Hadley, is in 9th grade.
 
Heather Antanaitis
 
Heather describes herself as a storyteller from a family of storytellers.  She was born in California but moved for her father’s job at Boeing when she was only three months old.  She grew up in Kent and graduated high school there.  She has spent a lot of time overseas, first as an exchange student and also teaching leadership.
 
She is a double major graduate of Washington State University, where she earned her degrees in communication and political science.  She completed her political science degree in Denmark.
 
Heather works as development director for Family Education and Support Services to reduce child abuse and neglect.  She is married to an attorney for the attorney general’s office and has two children a 7-year-old daughter who would like to be a paleontologist one day and their 3-year-old daughter. 
 
Program: 2019-20 Rotary Exchange Student Year in Review
 
Thibault Brisbois
 
Thibault has returned to his home in Belgium on March 20th after it was clear he would not be returning to Olympia High School as the pandemic brought on campus classes to an early ending.
 
He shared that he was glad to be home where he can find the best chocolate, waffles and beer in the world. 
 
Thibault shared his activities and highlights of his time in Washington including district meetings with other exchange students, a trip to southern California that included visits to the theme parks and surfing. 
 
Unfortunately, he couldn’t participate in the surfing due to the torn meniscus that he experienced in his first and only football game for Olympia High School.  He received an honorary varsity letter from the program at the end-of-year banquet. 
 
He enjoyed his first Thanksgiving and his host families very much.  He did not enjoy his surgeries and long hospital stay.  He received his new knee in the New Year and attended the Seattle Dragons XFL game as well as a Sounders game in Seattle in February and March.  On his last day in the U.S. his host family took him to the Washington coast.
 
Since returning home, he has had a third surgery to address infection in his knee in which the first surgery to repair the meniscus was undone.  He is able to walk relatively normally now, but will have 5 months of recovery before he will start the process over with surgery to repair the knee.
 
Thibault plans to study nutrition in the future. 
 
Ximena Blaires
 
Ximena came to Olympia in August from Paraguay.  She is one of a set of triplets with her two brothers and has one older sister.  Her family describes her as easy going, flexible, and willing to try anything.  She lives with her family in Coronel Oviedo.
 
She shared that when she arrived to meet her first host family, she was very comfortable and not nervous at all.  She loves music and was able to attend a concert in Seattle and attend the District meeting in September to have the change to spend time with other exchange students.
 
Her first football game at OHS was a lot of fun, but she admits she didn’t understand the game at all.  In October she attended Homecoming.
 
Friends took her to a Rocky Horror Picture Show with full audience participation, which was an experience.  She was able to play basketball for OHS and participate in choir and orchestra.
 
She said Christmas was both wonderful because of her host family, but also hard because she wasn’t home with her family.  Later she was able to go to Canada to ski and attend a District meeting of exchange students.
 
Then came COVID quarantine.  She showed pictures of the many home haircuts, lots of food and daily walks with her host family
 
Ximena has she has about a half a year of online high school remaining and isn’t sure what she will study next. 
 
Meeting Adjourned: 1:12 pm by President Colleen Gillespie