IDVA Valedictorian Olivia Thomas is all smiles as she delivers her graduation speech
Between graduating as Valedictorian and presenting her self-designed videogame in the White House Red Room, Idaho Virtual Academy’s (IDVA’s) Olivia Thomas has had quite a momentous year!
Olivia started on her road to the top of her IDVA class in the 1st grade, and has loved her schooling every day since. After just a few weeks into 1st grade at her former brick and mortar school, Olivia was bored and needed a more involved and stimulating education. “I knew she had a lot of potential and I wanted her to be challenged,” Trish Thomas, Olivia’s mother, said. “The K12 curriculum was extremely rich and it just worked.”
Fast forward twelve years later and Olivia delivered her Valedictorian address in three separate locations surrounded by the peers she’s grown close with, while attending school virtually.
“It’s bittersweet. I’m so sad to leave IDVA,” said Olivia. “But I’m extremely excited for the future!”
Olivia has reason to be excited. She plans to attend the honors college at Boise State University as a double major in Computer Science and Games, Interactive Media, and Mobile. After playing many educational videogames as a child, both through K12 and outside sources, Olivia became passionate in the field and hopes to design educational videogames of her own.
“Videogames are a powerful medium for teaching,” Olivia said. “Their potential hasn’t been explored completely yet.”
One of Olivia’s videogames, named Colorless and available through Gamestar Mechanic, was so successful that it took her all the way to the White House earlier this year.
This game was unlike many of Olivia’s other games, as it was a puzzle that challenges its players to be extremely observant, rather than being story-heavy. Olivia was able to present her game at the White House Science Fair to many science fair invitees, including the Director of STEM at the U.S. Department of Education and representatives from Disney Interactive and the Entertainment Software Association.
She was even able to meet President Obama briefly face-to-face, and shake his hand. The President delivered a private speech to the entire group of Science Fair participants.
“IDVA has allowed me to work at my own pace and explore all my interests alongside my academics,” Olivia said excitedly. “I will cherish my days here. My IDVA experience will remain with me throughout my life.”
Check out Olivia’s inspiring IDVA commencement speech for yourself!
Olivia presents her videogame in the White House
Olivia celebrates graduation with fellow IDVA classmates