SHERIDAN — Olivia Thoney didn’t intend to participate in so many high school activities.
“You go into high school and everyone tells you, ‘Get involved, get involved,’” Thoney said. “I was always like, ‘I’m not going to put all that on myself.’ But I just made a lot of connections throughout high school through all my friends.”
Those connections led Thoney to take part in a variety of clubs and organizations, including National Honor Society, student council, Sources of Strength, Spanish club — which included a trip to Costa Rica as a sophomore — and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
All of those pursuits, plus standout academic and swimming careers, resulted in Thoney receiving the 4A girls Wyoming Student Leaders Scholarship during halftime of the 4A girls basketball championship game March 10.
The $500 scholarship can be used toward any college or university and is sponsored by Casper’s Proud to Host the Best Committee, with a grant from the McMurry Foundation. One male and one female from the four high school classifications receive the award each year.
Applicants need a grade point average of at least 3.0; involvement in a high school activity; community involvement; and to demonstrate consistent leadership. SHS administrators nominated Thoney, who submitted a portfolio that included a resume, personal essay and two letters of recommendation.
The GPA requirement was no problem, as Thoney is tied for second in her class rank. For activities, Thoney was an All-State swimmer this past fall for the SHS state runner-up swim team and was part of the 400-yard freestyle relay team that set a school record.
In addition to being an accomplished swimmer, Thoney played spring tennis, mainly for enjoyment. She hadn’t played tennis before high school but decided to try it and has enjoyed the process of learning a new sport.
For in-school extracurriculars, Thoney joined Sources of Strength as a sophomore when it began at SHS and is now a peer leader in the club. Thoney also ran for student council for the first time as a senior because she wanted to make impactful decisions. Recently, that has involved organizing this year’s graduation ceremony.
One of the graduation speakers will be SHS math teacher Nancy Crowe, who wrote Thoney letters of recommendation and has been an inspiration as a woman teaching math. Thoney has particularly enjoyed Crowe’s Advanced Placement calculus class this year.
“It’s just been really neat to have her as a female math teacher who succeeded so well,” Thoney said. “She’s so passionate about what she does. I think it has inspired me like, ‘Wow, this person does math as a living,’ and she’s really energetic everyday and just absolutely loves it. She’s so good at what she does and so confident.”
Outside of the classroom, pool and court, Thoney also interns at Bought Beautifully, a local nonprofit that sells jewelry, scarves and home decor, among other items. She works there through an SHS program that offers internships over the course of two class periods during the school day. Thoney usually works Monday through Thursday, keeping track of her hours and journaling about her activities for class credit.
“They partner with vendors worldwide to sell their products in the U.S.,” Thoney said. “It helps reach out to get women out of (human) trafficking or provide fair work wages.”
With such a full slate, does she ever have time to relax? Occasionally. Thoney loves reading novels and also enjoys hiking, kayaking and paddleboarding. The Thoney family will also visit Hawaii this summer as a culmination of Thoney’s graduation, her parents’ 25th anniversary and her sister’s 16th birthday.
Thoney still has a college decision to make between the University of Wyoming and Northern Arizona University. She plans to study computer science and possibly statistics. Her father, Mark Thoney, is a computer science instructor at Sheridan College.
“I’ve just always been really interested in math and science, and the problem-solving goes along with computer science,” Thoney said. “It seems like a really good, broad option, too. I don’t know exactly what industry I want to go in, but every industry needs a computer scientist.”
She didn’t plan to be so heavily involved, but Thoney’s participation paid off and resulted in quality options for her future.