Naiyah Thompson, a senior at St. Mary’s Ryken High School in Leonardtown, has been recognized on and off the basketball court and in and out of the classroom as outstanding athlete, student and member of the community.

The 17-year-old Thompson is the daughter of Winston and Leigh Thompson, and recently signed a letter of intent to attend Boston University on a basketball scholarship. She is also a member of the National Honor Society, and has been honored by the St. Mary’s County Human Resources Commission with an award recognizing her outstanding service to others in the community.

Beth Allen, Ryken’s campus minister, nominated Thompson for the award, calling her “a remarkable senior at St. Mary’s Ryken High School who leads her peers in serving others in all avenues of her life.”

A sophomore transfer student to the Xaverian Brothers-sponsored Ryken, Thompson spent her freshman year at North Point High School. There, she maintained a 3.9 GPA while being named the MVP of the school’s undefeated junior varsity basketball team. She was also a participant in the junior ROTC.

She said she chose to transfer to St. Mary Ryken High School “because it is a good academic school in a competitive [athletic] conference.”

Thompson noted that while “all the classes here [at Ryken] are challenging,” she finds “the teachers are really cool and the people are really cool, too – I guess that’s because this is a Catholic school.”

She said one of the greatest differences she found between her years in public school and her years at Ryken is that “here the people are really nice and into their religion. Also, I love the philosophy classes here that are not taught in public school.”

Since she has attended Ryken, Thompson has been named to the President’s List for nine consecutive academic quarters. She scored in the top 3 percent of African-American students taking the PSAT and has been recognized with the National Achievement Scholarship for Black Americans.

Following the school’s Catholic tradition of service to others, Thompson has completed more than 100 hours of community service during her three-year tenure at the school. She has participated in basketball camps, food drives, the International Coastal Clean-up campaign, adopted a needy family at Christmas, collected items for a local pregnancy aid center, and ran the school blood drive.

“It’s exciting and I like doing it,” she said of her community service efforts.

Allen said that “Thompson’s example has brought many to the spirit of giving to others, and in that she will leave her personal imprint on SMR.”

She is also captain of the school’s girl’s varsity basketball team. Her skills on the court brought her scholarship offers from several colleges and universities, but she chose Boston University.

She knows that competition will be different come next fall – “it will be rougher and faster and more of a challenge but I look forward to that” – and she also knows that her relationship with her teammates will be different.

“This team is so close, we are all friends,” she said. “I know I will never have another team as the one I have now or friends as the ones I have now.”

And while she attends Boston University on a basketball scholarship, she will not slack on academics – she plans to major in either neurology (a branch of medicine focused on the clinical aspects of the brain and nervous system) or neurobiology (a science focused in the physiology of the brain and nervous system).