Sheridan High School Senior Sierra Atwell is being recognized as this week’s Summit Award winner.

Atwell has demonstrated a strong work ethic while remaining focused on academic studies and long-term career goals.  Unlike many high school seniors, Atwell pursues a rigorous schedule at school while simultaneously being employed in the workforce, averaging 30 to 35 hours per week in her job at Papa Murphy’s Pizza.  She admits that at times this is quite a challenge as she is determined to attain excellence in academics.  Undoubtedly, that makes for many late nights of studying, completing homework and managing her time to ensure her academic success.  Going into her senior year, Atwell has maintained an impressive cumulative GPA of 3.976 and received academic letters all three years.

In addition to her Advanced Placement classes in calculus, chemistry and psychology, in the last two years, Atwell has explored other areas of study that greatly interest her, such as imaginative writing and poetry.  This year she became a staff writer for SHS’s The Ocksheperida (“Ock”) school newspaper which has been rewarding and fulfilling.  To date she has prepared feature articles on various subjects, including new teachers at the high school, new classes offered, noteworthy students and a preview of the upcoming boys basketball season.  Her love of writing is evident in her personal life as well, as she keeps a journal and often expresses her thoughts in creative writing exercises.  One of her long-term goals is to publish a book at some point in her life.

Brian Rizer, adviser for the Ock and also one her instructors, comments that “Sierra continually impresses me with her effort, achievement and persistence in the work that she does, and it shows in the work that she has done for the Ocksheperida…I have every confidence that she will continue to show this sort of excellence in everything she does.”

Another defining aspect of Atwell’s life is her affinity for music.  She loves to sing and has been a member of the SHS choir all four years of high school.  In addition to attending music festivals and district music programs across the state, Atwell thoroughly enjoys participating in community events, such as performances at the WYO Theater and Christmas caroling at the hospital and other local venues. During her sophomore year, she performed in the high school musical, “Grease,” which she exclaims was an amazing experience.

As mentioned above, Atwell is employed at Papa Murphy’s Pizza.  Her employment there began during her junior year, and it is commendable that she has successfully balanced her school work with an almost full-time job.  When asked to describe how her position as a crew leader has prepared her for transitioning into adulthood following graduation, Atwell succinctly responded that it has been an invaluable experience.  She has enhanced her communication skills and interaction with co-workers and members of the public, has learned to accept responsibility and develop a good work ethic, and she has acquired the ability to multi-task and prioritize, all essential skills in succeeding in life.

Reflecting on one of many opportunities available to SHS students to expand their horizons, Atwell was among a group of students (all members of the Spanish Club) who spent spring break in Costa Rica, a trip organized by Mario Montano.  Her enthusiasm about this adventure was evident, describing it as “an eye-opening experience”.  The group’s interactions with local Costa Ricans, including students, was amazing and despite the poverty conditions of many, Atwell stated that they all had smiles on their faces and were outgoing and friendly.  She remarked that this was a trip of a lifetime for her.

Regarding post-secondary plans, Atwell plans to pursue a career in clinical psychology.  She hopes to attend the University of Washington in Seattle or the University of Wyoming.

The parents of this deserving recipient are John Atwell and her step-mother Danielle Atwell.