Collin Fitzgerald feels that studying for the ACT, and his umpteenth advanced-placement class, is nothing after growing up with the Bible Bowl.
A regional academic competition among churches, Fitzgerald, 17, has competed since he was 6, cramming for three months each year on a different book of the Bible.
"For those couple months, it's pretty intense," Fitzgerald said.
Hundreds of grade school kids take a 100-question multiple choice test, competing for the best scores.
"It's amazing how the spirit of competition is definitely evident," Fitzgerald said. "It definitely helps develop study skills."
Fitzgerald well-honed those skills, from the Bible Bowl to the classroom.
Fitzgerald placed in the top five in the last 11 years in the Bible tests, six of those years coming in first place. In 2007 he missed one question out of 100 about the book of Luke.
Which may help explain his 4.0 grade-point average, and academic rank of second out of 319 seniors at Graves County High School this year.
Fitzgerald, son of Jason and Tracy Fitzgerald, is the Murray State University Teen of the Week. Each Monday, the Sun features a different MSU Teen of the Week selected from nominees submitted by high school guidance counselors in western Kentucky and southern Illinois.
In May, a Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners, earning a $5,000 scholarship to Murray State.
Teen of the Week is part of the Sun's Newspaper in Education program.
Fitzgerald applies the same intensity of his Bible Bowl study days everywhere. On the soccer field: Fitzgerald is the varsity team captain. With his fellow students: He's a mentor in his school's program that has seniors tutoring and supporting freshman. And outside the classroom: Fitzgerald spent last summer participating in the Governor's Scholar Program at Bellarmine University in Louisville.
"I had a really good experience," he said. "There, there were kids a lot smarter than me, which was something, I don't know, that was sort of new ... it showed me what I could do."
Those around Fitzgerald notice he can balance intellect and hard work with the ability to relate to people, not a common trait.
"Collin is an excellent student with outstanding analytical and problem solving skills," said Jodie Blalock, a calculus teacher at Graves County High School.
"He also has a great personality and is a friend to all."
"Collin is a special one," said Laura Marrs, school counselor.
Of that, Marrs is certain.
What's also certain is that Fitzgerald will be motivated wherever he ends up after high school, with plans of studying engineering.
"I'm more motivated this year than I was in previous years," he said.
That he knows like Scripture.
Contact Adam Shull, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.