Driven, self-motivated and tenacious are just a few of the qualities that describe this week’s Summit Award winner, Samara Ordahl. She is a senior at Sheridan High School, a multi-sport athlete and maintains a 4.0 GPA while taking a rigorous course load. Her transcript lists nine Advanced Placement courses, including biology, calculus AB, environmental science, psychology, Spanish, statistics, literature, government and politics and U.S. history. Throughout high school, Ordahl has earned an academic letter and was named to the Principal’s Honor Roll each year. Ordahl explains that she is self-motivated to always do her best whether in the classroom or on the field. She credits her 2018 classmates with establishing a competitive yet inspirational culture.

“Our class challenges and supports each other to succeed academically and athletically,” she said.

SHS math teacher Timothy Daniels has witnessed Ordahl’s strong desire to succeed.

“One word describes Samara: driven,” he said. “I love how she can combine kindness with tenacity. She is a go-getter who will not settle for second best. And she goes about it the right way, through hard work, passion and a fantastic attitude. She honestly has the ability to do anything she wants in the future, and watch out world!”

Daniels has been nominated by Ordahl as an outstanding educator.

“Mr. Daniels emphasizes teaching ‘good people,’ not just people who are good at math,” Ordahl said. “He expresses genuine concern about each student’s success not just in the classroom, but in life.”

In addition, Ordahl credits Mr. Emery and Mr. Weisz, two Sagebrush Elementary School teachers, for establishing a strong educational foundation.

She is also very grateful for her family’s constant encouragement. Her parents, Todd and Kim Ordahl, and her sister, Sydnee, provide a strong support system in her life.

“I admire their kindness and their love for each other,” Ordahl proclaimed.

Nancy Crowe, SHS math teacher, has been especially influential during Ordahl’s senior year. Crowe affirms Ordahl’s deep desire to learn.

“Samara seems to live by an unspoken motto of ‘why put off until tomorrow what I can do right now’ and can often be found in my room after school finishing her homework or double-checking her understanding of difficult concepts,” Crowe said. “Samara’s sheer grit, self-motivation and her desire to always do her best while gently encouraging others to do the same make her a delight to teach.”

While Ordahl has always prioritized her passion for learning, she also competes on the SHS indoor and outdoor track teams as a pole vaulter, hurdler and triple jumper. She appreciates the team dynamic as well as the individual aspect of the sport and is constantly striving for her next personal best. The past two years she has qualified to compete at the Simplot Games, one of the nation’s premier high school track and field meets.

Ordhal’s competitive nature is also evidenced by her taekwondo black belt certification. She began the long process at the age of 7, which included year-round practices each night for five years. She is proud of her black belt and appreciates the self-discipline she learned at an early age.

In addition to her challenging academic and athletic schedules, Ordahl also participates in National Honor Society and Spanish Club and was on the 2017 state champion We the People team.

Community involvement is important for this exceptional senior. Ordahl has volunteered for YMCA track and field camps as well as the Wyoming Senior Olympics, and her family supports Herding Rescue Dogs of Wyoming by providing a foster home.

“Herding dogs can sometimes struggle in certain homes and shelter environments due to their high energy, intelligence and sensitivity,” Ordahl explained. 

She is grateful for the foster opportunity in order to ensure each dog finds a loving forever home.

There is no doubt that Ordahl’s drive for excellence will surely lead to more success as she plans to pursue a degree in bioengineering either at the University of Wyoming or Montana State University.