Senior Spotlight: Math, Performing, and Sisterhood are Pivotal for Michaela Payne


Madison Consolidated High School Cheer Captain Michaela Payne

Alli Holcroft, Staff Reporter

Michaela Payne, who is ranked 17th in her class at Madison Consolidated High School and also has a solid 4.1 GPA, is the daughter of Josh Payne and Kelli Means. Her siblings include her 17-year-old twin sister, Mallory Payne, and 23-year-old brother Collin Overton. Payne is a part of cheerleading, dance, AVID, National Honor Society, and is an AP student.

During her high school career, Payne ruminated that she was able to challenge herself and that she was most proud of “surviving high school and keeping up with her studies.” 

Payne’s hard work paid off in the end as she was accepted to the colleges on her personal wish list.

Right now she is looking at either Purdue University in-state or the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL or Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL. She hopes to study either chemical engineering or biomedical engineering because she loves math and solving problems. Her second major of choice would probably be to work towards being a physician’s assistant or something in the medical field.

“I would like to get my bachelor’s degree and maybe move onto my master’s depending on what I study. I would like to attend the same college as Mallory, but we have no idea (if that is possible) because we are planning to pursue different careers.”

Because of her love of math, her favorite class was Lee Strassell’s Calculus BC class her junior year.

Payne stated, “That class was the hardest math class I have ever taken, but I loved it because (Mr.) Strassell taught it. He really cares about all of his students and made sure we somewhat understood what was going on. Mr. Strassell is also just a great teacher that everyone should have at least once in their high school career.”

Michaela Payne

Payne is not one-dimensional focusing only on academics, however. Payne has participated in either dance, cheerleading, or both all through high school. She was a varsity cheer captain her senior year and joined cheer her freshman year.

“Dance was killing (me), but I still wanted to perform because that was my favorite part,” she said.

In her sophomore year, Payne decided to not try out for the cheer team because she missed dance too much, but in her junior year she decided to do both, and she is very glad she did.

“Balancing dance, cheer, and school is hard but I still love it. I do not have a favorite sport and both have their advantages and disadvantages for sure.”

But this year, Payne has been granted a leadership role on the cheer squad.

“Being a captain this year comes with many responsibilities and decisions. I am glad Coach Hannah (Oliver) has allowed me to be a leader and role model for the younger cheerleaders. I hope to graduate with a positive imprint on the squad that they can continue in the years to come,” stated Payne.

Payne performed in dance for 10 years. She started with the Fit For the King Flyers

and also moved to Diamond Dance Centre in Scottsburg. Now she dances for the Flyers and Diamond Dance Centre and is currently dancing a duet with her sister in Scottsburg,  and she is a part of the Senior Flyers team at FFTK. Her favorite part of dancing is performing.

“I love seeing the audience’s reactions to something cool we do and hearing them applaud at the end. It is the best feeling finishing a performance and walking off proud of what we just put out there.” 

Two of Payne’s biggest inspirations in her life are her sister and former Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

She said, “Mallory is definitely my biggest inspiration. She has taught me so much and without her, I have no idea who I would be.”

She looks up to the recently deceased Ginsburg because “she has inspired me to always be proud of being a female and has said some super inspirational stuff about women. She left a huge mark on all females and is one of my greatest role models.” 

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