St. Mary's Academy photo
The class of 2013 from St. Mary's Academy.
 St. Mary's Academy photo
The class of 2013 from St. Mary's Academy.

At first glance, it’s clear that St. Mary’s Academy seniors Karen Myers and Avery Thompson share some traits. Myers, the 2013 valedictorian, and Thompson, this year’s salutatorian, are both intelligent and hard-working, with a thirst for knowledge.

Looking deeper, less obvious commonalities emerge. Both are passionate about community service and derive joy from inspiring a love of learning in others.

Myers, who captained St. Mary’s varsity swimming and soccer teams this year, serves as an ambassador at the school, coaches CYO swimming and volunteers with Catholic Charities of Oregon’s Kateri Park, a housing development for refugees.
Giving back is a value instilled in Myers by her family from a young age and fostered at St. Mary’s.

"I have always been surrounded by a loving and encouraging community, so I find it extremely important to help out people whose lives have not been so stable or supported,” she said. “St. Mary’s is an environment that absolutely encourages and supports people giving back.”

Myers is interested in environmental science, and one of her favorite activities is serving as an Outdoor School counselor.

“I feel like it lets me be the best version of myself. I am called to be a role model and get to share my passion for the environment with sixth-graders,” she said.

Myers, a 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program Finalist and National Honor Society member, will have the opportunity to explore her love of the environment more next year at Washington University in St. Louis, where she’ll participate in the Pathfinder Program in Environmental Sustainability.
Like Myers, Thompson is an athlete with an altruistic spirit. She plays varsity lacrosse for St. Mary’s and serves as co-director of the school’s Teaching, Integrating and Exploring Science (TIES) program. TIES pairs St. Mary’s students with fifth-grade students for scientific exploration.

“I love sparking an interest in science in the fifth-grade girls because that is such a key point in their development,” she said. “It’s great to be a positive role model for them as a girl who’s interested in science.”

In addition to TIES, Thompson volunteers with the Police Activities League through the Beaverton Police Department, offering tutoring for disadvantaged youth.

Thompson, a 2013 National Achievement Scholarship Program Finalist and National Merit Commended Student, will attend Yale University in the fall. Medicine and public health are career paths of interest.

No matter what direction she chooses, she believes that the foundation she received at St. Mary’s will position her to succeed.

“I think that St. Mary’s has really allowed me to become a more self-confident person. Especially as a young woman, there’s a lot of pressure in college and later in the workforce to conform or be subordinate. Having that confidence is going to be really important for me,” she said.

Graduation is set for noon at the University of Portland Chiles Center on Saturday, June 1.