Shelby Thorman. Submitted photo

BETHEL — Shelby Thorman has practiced many different methods for staying positive through the pandemic, whether it’s getting outside more, spending extra time with family or doing self care. Another way the 18-year-old has stayed upbeat is by reaching out to others, something she learned she had a knack for after becoming an upperclassmen.
“I realized that I have a calling to help people. I wanted to encourage others to grow and be an inspiration to them,” Thorman said.
This realization came from watching her brother, Max, who has autism, overcome obstacles and grow because of encouragement from others. Thorman has witnessed other children and adults with disabilities do the same and each of them is an inspiration to her.
This fall she plans to take her talents to the University of Maine at Orono, where she plans to major in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, Thorman job shadowed a Speech Pathologist at Stevens Memorial Hospital.
“I saw that there were many different ways that a speech therapist can impact and help someone’s life. Whether it is teaching them to speak correctly, learn how to swallow correctly, or helping someone after they have had a stroke,” she said.
“I want to teach young children and hopefully work with children with special needs,” she added.
Before discovering her calling, Thorman’s dream was being a journalist for National Geographic, so she could travel the world. Unfortunately, when she started taking AP English classes, with them came some serious bouts of writer’s block, which ultimately steered her away from a career in writing.
Thorman’s dreams of traveling are still a reality, however, with the West Coast and Europe topping her list of destinations. She even mentioned the idea of possibly living on the West Coast eventually, but for now, her focus is still on school and hopefully a spring sports season.
Thorman has been heavily involved in sports at Telstar. She played soccer for two seasons before switching to field hockey for her junior and senior years, basketball as a freshman and sophomore and softball as a freshman and sophomore year. Last year there were no spring sports at Telstar, which meant no softball, a tough break for Thorman.

“My favorite sport is softball and I was really sad that we didn’t have a season last year, hopefully this year will be different,” she said.

Thorman has played four sports at Telstar since high school, but says softball is her favorite. Submitted photo

Currently, the status of spring sports in Maine is trending in the right direction, with the Maine Principals Association expecting athletics to begin on time this spring.
If everything falls into place, Thorman will get one more year behind the plate. She’s played catcher for the varsity team since freshman year.
Thorman said she will likely not play any sports at UMaine, but her athletic career at Telstar will always have a place in her heart.
“By playing sports, I was able to get my mind off of the stresses I was experiencing outside of school,” she said. Not only has it brought me closer to other players, but it has taught me to be a leader and learn how to work well as a team.”
During her four years of school, Thorman received a Coaches Award in soccer, Rookie Award in softball and was named a Mountain Valley Conference All-Star for field hockey.
Outside of sports, she is C0-President of her class, President of the Telstar National Honor Society, Reporter for the Future Business Leaders of America and a student council member. Thorman was named a Maine Top Scholar this year, meaning all her tuition costs for UMaine will be paid for.
Thorman gives a lot of credit to teachers Jennifer Bennett and Melissa Poston for teaching her a wide variety of things and also said both helped her grow as a student and person. Her friends and family have also been an amazing support group, Thorman said.
Her recognition as Top Scholar certainly stands out in a year where things have been far from normal.
“It definitely doesn’t feel like my senior year and senioritis is hitting everyone much fast then normal,” Thorman said.
Thorman admitted she feels her class has been overlooked with everything else going on, but understands that people outside of school are powering through the pandemic much like her and her classmates.
“The hardest part about COVID has been the unpredictability of it all. Will we be going remote for two weeks again? Will we have field hockey or not? Will I be able to have a relatively normal senior year? Will my family be able to watch my games? Prom? These are all questions that I’m sure many of the class of 2021 graduates have asked themselves as well,” she said.
The school has been forced to remote learning several times this year, field hockey season was significantly shortened and questions remain regarding the status of spring sports and other school events. Thorman noted that being a part of an unprecedented year will make for good talk down the road.

“One key to staying positive is remembering the stories that you will tell to your children someday. Being one of the many/few who can say they had to experience their whole senior year in a pandemic.”

Despite Thorman’s senior year not going as she envisioned, it will not cloud all the other memories she’s made at Telstar. The school has made a lasting impact on her.
“Representing Telstar means everything to me, I wish outsiders could see the greatness that it brings the students. Not only have I grown as a student at Telstar. but I have made lasting connections with teachers and students that I will cherish forever. Also, by representing Telstar, we can show outsiders and other schools that this small school has what it takes to succeed and go above and beyond.”

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