2023 Students of Distinction

Rianne Dooley went from shy and introverted to star of stage

Posted on May 12th, 2023 By:

Gig Harbor Now is posting profiles of each of the Students of Distinction being honored by the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation. The students will be honored during a banquet from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 17, 2023, at Ocean5, 5268 Point Fosdick Dr.

Student: Rianne Dooley

School: Peninsula High School

Category: Music, Art & Drama Achievement

For Rianne Dooley, stepping on stage is “the best feeling in the world.”

She got bit by the acting bug in the seventh grade. She had already discovered the joys of singing and painting and knew that the arts were the greatest way to truly express herself. But theater changed her life.

“I just fell in love with it. It’s magic the way a performance captures you and transforms you, the excitement and energy you get from an audience and the magic of making a story come alive,” she said.

Rianne Dooley

Gaining confidence

At PHS, she has participated in six productions — acting in five and doing set design in the other. Needless to say, theater has been her favorite high school experience. It has given her confidence, helped her overcome her fears of public speaking “and helped me find who I really am,” she said.

Earlier this year, she played the part of the narrator in the school’s fall play, “Puffs,” and this spring she’ll play the lead, Charlie Bucket, in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

In addition to theater, Rianne is a National Honor Society member, captain of the girls’ swim and dive team and is active in her church.

Navigating the COVID shutdown was her biggest challenge, she said. Going into high school, she was “really shy and kind of introverted.” Then the pandemic-mandated isolation happened, and everything shifted to on-line. “It was pretty scary, not being able to do things in person or see my friends,” she said.

True to values

It also made it harder to keep her grades up – especially since, going into high school, she had set a personal goal of maintaining a 4.0 GPA. Coping with the shutdown and balancing all her activities with school work was tough, but through it all she actually gained better work habits, and she ranks sixth in her graduating class with a 3.993 GPA.

Rianne is proud that she’s been able to stay true to herself and true to her values through all the challenges. “You change a lot in high school. Some people change for the worse, which is sad. But if you follow the values in your heart, tough situations can become growth opportunities,” she said.

In a letter of recommendation, PHS English instructor and performing arts mentor Kara Beloate acknowledged Rianne’s achievements: “Rianne has an incredible work ethic. She’s very adaptable and can meet every opportunity or challenge that comes her way (even Covid)! She’s the kind of student every teacher wants to have in her class.”

This fall Rianne will attend Brigham Young University to major in elementary education and minor in theater arts. She also wants to participate in more plays, but, as she says, BYU has a very competitive program. “But I’ll do my best, even if it’s just in an ensemble.” Her ultimate goal is to teach elementary school and continue acting.

Her advice to younger kids about how to succeed in high school? “Start building good work habits now so you can explore new things and find your passion early – and then you can do the things you like best without having to struggle or worry about time.”

Rianne Dooley

GPA: 3.993; class rank: 6 of 331

Parents: Erin and Jared Dooley.

Achievements/Activities: Honor Roll; National Honor Society; Student of the Quarter; captain of the girls swim and dive team; Most Improved swimmer; Most Inspirational swimmer

Favorite teacher: Mr. Bullock. “He has been a mentor all four years and he has taught me so much in my time at PHS, as well as being a huge support. The biggest thing I have learned from him is that no matter what role you receive, whether it was what you hoped for or not, there is something to learn and always an area to grow. And that is something I will apply every day to my life.”

Best thing about PHS: “The community. Through swim, choir and theatre I have met so many amazing, kind and welcoming people that I will keep as friends for a really long time. Also, all of our teachers are so accepting and supportive of all their students and will find ways to help you succeed, which is another reason why I have chosen to go into teaching.”