The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


Easy A

There’s more than meets the eye with Olivia Beck
Finley Bedell

December 2022.

Winter break had just ended and Olivia Beck could barely get out of bed, every inch of her body ached. She couldn’t even keep a spoonful of strawberry yogurt down. Her best guess was that she caught a stomach bug from her cousin, who came down from Kansas City, Missouri for the holiday.

Beck had never taken a physics class in her life, and the more she forced herself to read chapters from the online AP Physics textbook the more it felt like someone had emptied a vacuum canister in her head.

A JCCC student sent the link to his Canvas, with some cash and a deadline of week to submit a three page assignment. She gave herself two days. It’s how she kept business smooth.

It started freshman year.

Beck was the shy kid, she who had just moved to Shawnee from St. Charles, St. Louis.

She was smart, classmates noticed. She didn’t talk often, she got her work done fast and right the first time, an overachiever, an academic weapon.
She started doing homework for her friends to be nice. Some orchestra, mostly math, every once in a while a Shakespeare essay or two. Then it escalated.

Before she knew it she had 50 customers and an extra two or $300 to spend each month. Which Beck usually used on anyone but herself.

Beck’s friends always called her “the smart one”, which annoyed her . Smart implied that things came easy, that it was talent, which it wasn’t.

Easy is not the way to describe Beck’s life.

Her parents had her at 19 and split before she was born.

Every woman on her mom’s side had a child before 20 and she came from a military family.

“My mom said school comes first every day of my life,” Beck said. “Dad says I can do whatever I want as long as my grades are good.”

Students see her in the hall, in her Arizona t-shirt and sweatpants, speedwalking to college trig, teachers listen as she rambles on about In The Time of The Butterflies. 

Everyone knows her as the girl who will do everyone’s homework, except for all her teachers and her parents.

Either way, no one sees the tears in her eyes around Christmas, no was standing in the doorway when her mom broke the news, wrapping her in a hug as tears rolled down her face. The day she found out her cousin, whom she would’ve called her brother, died of a drug overdose.

No one felt the awkwardness of having a strange man in the house. Her mom got off a one day and her new boyfriend trailed behind, bringing four stepbrothers with him.

“He’s goofy sometimes and mean when he wants to,” Beck said. “I love him now, I just didn’t like sharing my mom.”

No one was on the phone with her mom when she told Beck her grandma had passed away from cancer.

“It didn’t register to me that the people I was close to could pass away at any time,” Beck said.

But school was simple, math had the answers, english was just words on a page, biology was memorization. Beck likes doing others’s work, she likes being busy, even if it means pulling all nighters, she likes that she can shut down.

She likes getting praise from her teachers, she likes making her parents proud, she likes the 10/10’s, it makes her feel special. It helps her get away.

If you were really close with Beck you would see her love for scrap booking.

“Because I’m 85,” she says.

Or her obsession with true crime and forensics, her natural talent for roller blading and baking brownies. You would know that her favorite thing to cook is fettuccine alfredo and that her mom is her best friend in the world.

“I don’t really want people to know about what I’ve been through,” Beck said. “I don’t want them to see me that way.”

But not many people do, and not many people will get that chance.

People will still see her as the girl who will do everyone’s homework, except all her teachers and her parents.

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About the Contributor
Sofia Ball, Writer
Hi! My name is Sofia Ball and I am a writer for the Northwest Passage. Writing started out as a hobby for me. Something I never imagined I would be good at until about 7th grade after taking a creative writing class with Dr. Van Zant. I just started out as a freshman, and already, I've come to know and love many of the classes, teachers and students here at Northwest. I’d like to think of myself as an extrovert, but most of my freetime is spent either reading, writing or watching Netflix in my bedroom. I used to watch The Office all the time before it got removed. The only time you'll ever see me out and about is probably at Cross Country or Track practice. You may even see me handing out our latest newspaper issues around the school.

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