Vanessa Dolbec has a flair for the dramatic.
When her father asked her years ago what she wanted to be when she grew up, she told him she wanted to be an actress.
When he told her he thought it was hard to make a career out of acting, Dolbec brushed off his concerns with an elaborate, fake faint.
She tried out for a role in a production of the Sound of Music in Sooke when she was five and her enthusiasm earned her a place as Gretel’s understudy.
“They said I was too little, but I knew all the songs and was dancing everywhere,” said Dolbec. “Acting is the best feeling in the world. When the lights come up, feeling all the eyes on you – it’s the biggest adrenaline rush.”
Dolbec played Rizzo, one of the lead roles in Nanaimo District Secondary School’s production of Grease this year and a role she describes as about as far from her own personality as possible.
“I got to be really mean,” she said. “I think it’s fun to be someone completely different than yourself.”
Participating in the play took up hours of time, but that’s not all Dolbec did this year.
She got involved with Empathy NDSS along with some peers after taking a suicide prevention course organized by the Vancouver Island Crisis Line.
“We were trying to promote that everyone has someone to talk to,” said Dolbec. “I’m the listener in my group of friends even though I talk a lot. I’m the motherly one.”
As president of the Francophone student council – students from the Francophone school district elementary school finish high school at NDSS – she ran meetings and helped organize fundraisers and events for her peers.
Dolbec also headed up the student prom committee and was on the School Planning Council, made up of one student, three parents and administrators and charged with developing a plan for improving student achievement.
She got involved in many of these activities by volunteering herself.
“I really wanted to just get more involved, feel like I am making a difference,” said Dolbec.
Outside NDSS, the bilingual student sang the national anthem at the Maple Sugar Festival, volunteered as a candy striper at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and was involved with the Conseil Scholaire Francophone’s Reseau Jeunesse, a group dedicated to promoting French in Canadian communities.
She wants to combine her love of acting with a love of kids by becoming a high school drama teacher and starts the theatre program at the University of Victoria in September.
Teacher Russell Berg, who runs the NDSS drama club, said Dolbec has a heart for helping other people and looks for opportunities to do that.