Academic All-Stars

Ninth grade: Makenzie Suzanne Thomas, Clovis West High School

Makenzie Suzanne Thomas is “the whole package,” says her Clovis West High School freshman counselor.
Makenzie Suzanne Thomas is “the whole package,” says her Clovis West High School freshman counselor.

Fourteen-year-old Makenzie Suzanne Thomas is “the whole package,” says her Clovis West High School freshman counselor, Janet Duke.

Among many things, Thomas balances academics, athletics and community service. Her mother, Jennifer Thomas, describes her as a “very driven young lady.”

Her mother added that her daughter “enjoys challenging herself.” While taking the toughest courses a freshman can take, including Chemistry, Honor Math 2 and Honor English 9, the Clovis West High School student has maintained a 4.0 GPA.

Duke said Thomas, who was named Freshman of the Month at her school, “stands out above the rest.” Makenzie turned her struggle with anxiety into a strength when writing an essay about her personal battle with the health disorder. The piece was submitted to the 2016 William Saroyan writing contest, where she won first place in the seventh-ninth grade category.

In addition to her academic achievements, Makenzie runs for the Clovis West varsity cross country team. She swims for both the varsity swim team at her school and for a Clovis travel team. She is also the first chair flute player for the concert band at her school.

In seventh grade, Thomas joined a knitting club at Kastner Middle School. The club knits hats, booties and headbands for babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at Clovis Community Hospital. Even after graduating from Kastner, her mother says, Thomas continues to knit and donate. Her time at the hospital has inspired her to want to become a neonatologist, a career Duke says she has “no doubt she will do it!”

“She’s one of those people that’s going to do great things,” Duke said.


Age: 14

School: Clovis West High

Home: Fresno

Parents: Kevin and Jennifer Thomas

Achievements: Thomas, who has a 4.0 GPA, is a member of the varsity cross country and swim teams, won first place in the 2016 William Saroyan writing contest, was named to the Principal’s Honor Roll, is a member of the National Honor Society, PVSA Gold Division Winner Community: “Always Stay Strong” club, Clovis West Math Team, French Club member and is first chair flute of the Clovis West Concert Band and .

Honorable mention

MARA MAZANEC, 15, Easton

School: Washington Union High

Parents: Fred and Carrie Manzanec

Achievements: Mazanec has a full schedule of academics, sports and volunteering that keeps her busy. She played varsity softball, golf and cross country – two in one season – while maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Mazanec is interested in medicine or agriculture and has enrolled in the school’s Health Institute and agriculture programs. She was named to the Superintendent’s Honor Roll, is an FFA member and won grand champion in the Big Fresno Fair’s grand champion poultry division. Mazanec volunteers with Fresno Bully Rescue and the Marjaree Mason Center for Abused Women. “She puts in 110 percent every day and is a wonderful role model to those around her,” says her English teacher, Gabi Brittsan.


School: Sanger High

Parents: Heather and Lance Washburn

Achievements: A medical condition nearly derailed Washburn’s ability to play sports, but she has persevered and played on Sanger’s water polo team, said her guidance counselor, Taylor Wilson. Washburn has challenged herself by taking an honors biology course and competing in the state science fair for the past four years. She was a runner-up in the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair and has a 4.0 GPA. Washburn volunteers with Hope Sanger and Reach Sanger. In addition, she has participated in leadership classes. “Haidyn is a strong leader and is a selfless individual that will go above and beyond to help her peers reach their full potential,” Wilson said.