James Puckett is described in simple, complimentary terms - a friendly, outgoing model student.
The Mayfield High School senior excels in the classroom and on the field. The Mayfield native spends much of his time working hard hitting the books, playing hard on the turf and giving back to his community. He reflects much of his family's tradition of earning academic and athletic recognition while attending high school.
"I would describe myself as an outgoing guy who makes friends easily," he said. "But I also like to work hard and earn things myself."
Puckett, son of Jim Puckett and Kelly Weber, is the Mid-Continent University Teen of the Week. Each Monday, the Sun features a different MCU Teen of the Week selected from nominees guidance counselors throughout western Kentucky and southern Illinois submitted to the Sun. Mid-Continent University will provide each Teen of the Week with a $2,500 annual scholarship to its university, which is renewable for four years.
In the spring, a Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners. The Teen of the Year is eligible for a full four-year scholarship to Mid-Continent or a cash award of $2,500, paid through the Paducah Sun, if the student selects another college to attend.
Puckett, who is the older brother to three younger boys, is involved in a little of everything at his school. He plays multiple sports, including linebacker in football, defender in soccer and second baseman in baseball and has been a member of the Cardinal marching band. He was a member of the football team that won three state championships during his freshman, junior and senior years. He received the Scout Team Player of the Year Award in football and Most Improved Player Award in soccer.
"The team player award was pretty awesome because I wasn't expecting it," he said. "I just tried to work as hard as I could during practice."
He said all three football state titles stand out as some of his best high school memories but the final one, earned this year after a 14-1 season, was the sweetest.
"This one was the best because I was so involved in winning it," he said. "Being a key member of the team was an amazing feeling."
Puckett has also been a member of the Future Business Leaders of America, Beta Club, Sportsman Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He said FBLA has been his favorite activity and has participated and placed in tournaments on the state, regional and national level.
He has been involved in multiple community service programs including as an attorney in Teen Court; cleaning up an area at Golden Pond; organizing and distributing canned goods at a local food pantry and a can-struction event, where a church team constructed items using donated canned goods; and volunteering as a peer tutor at Mayfield Elementary School. He also traveled to Harrisburg, Ill., with his church youth group and helped to rebuild a fence for a family in need, following a 2012 tornado.
He has received countless academic awards during his high school career, including Class of Kentucky, honor roll and most outstanding student recognitions in World Civilization, English, Algebra II, Chemistry and Pre-Calculus. He said the Class of Kentucky achievement was his most cherished because it came from his favorite college and gave him a first glimpse into his future.
The 4.140 grade-point average student, who names physics as his favorite class, hopes to pursue a career in engineering. He became interested in the discipline of engineering at home through his father, who works as a civil engineer at Centrifugal Technologies, Inc. in Mayfield. Puckett plans to attend the University of Kentucky in Lexington next year and major in mechanical engineering.
"I'm mostly excited, but a little nervous to be out there on my own," he said. "I'm ready to concentrate on academics but also to make a lot of new friends."
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.
Teen of the Week
n Nominations are accepted only from guidance counselors.
n If you are interested in the scholarship program, contact your guidance counselor.
n Nominations are reviewed by The Paducah Sun.
n For questions contact Kendra Mitchell at 270-575-8625 or firstname.lastname@example.org.