MAYFIELD — It’s hard to believe Berry Craig IV when he says he’s not a morning person.
Craig, 17-year-old senior at Mayfield High School, hasn’t missed a day of class in six years. What’s more, he’s missed only two days since he was in kindergarten.
His attendance record just goes to show his level of determination.
Craig is involved in just about every kind of band fathomable. He’s trumpet section leader of the school’s marching band and a concert band soloist. He also performs in jazz and pep bands.
Ginny Burchett, MHS assistant band director, remembers how much effort Craig put into helping other students learn when he was in middle school.
Burchett said, “When Berry became an eighth-grader, he realized that his lunch time overlapped with sixth grade band. Each day, he would rush into the lunchroom and quickly eat his food. Without fail, he would be in my class playing his trumpet as a model with the beginning students within 10 minutes.
“Through his example, the younger students learned by watching a more experienced student in the way he acted during class as well as through listening to his more mature sound.”
Not only does Craig participate in band, he’s good at it. He has too many music awards to mention exhaustively, but Kentucky Music Educators Association state Class A band finalist, First District symphonic band and First District concert band are just a few. On Saturday, he was named to the all-state band.
“I was asked to join the high school marching band and jazz band when I was in the seventh grade, so I have spent about one-third of my life playing my trumpet in marching band season,” he said.
Craig is also a member of the academic team and excels at improvisational duo on the speech team.
When he’s not serenading crowds with his trumpet or whipping up a speech, Craig is focusing on his grades, which are stellar. He holds a pristine 4.0 grade-point average and is on track to graduate as valedictorian of his 91-student class.
It’s no surprise, then, that Craig participates in the Youth Leadership Program and received distinguished state testing scores in mathematics, science and social studies.
He was also chosen for the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program over the summer; he studied film at Bellarmine University in Louisville for five weeks.
His academic success is certainly not lost on his teachers.
Kara Dowdy, MHS English teacher, said: “Berry strives to be the best at whatever it is he decides to pursue in and out of the classroom. His abilities to work diligently and lead by a positive example are absolutely amazing.”
Craig, son of Melinda and Berry Craig III, 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 throughout 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 Newspapers in Education program.
Craig hopes to study pre-law or English at Transylvania University in the fall and eventually parlay that degree into a career in law.
He credits much of his work ethic and motivation to his parents, both of whom are educators. To hear Craig’s other motivators, watch the interview at paducahsun.com.
Craig said his parents taught him a self-explanatory type of determination that he calls “stick-to-it-ness.”
His parents also instilled in Craig a sense of insightful open-mindedness through world travel.
He and his family have been to Europe nearly a dozen times. In a senior tribute to their son, Melinda and Berry Craig III wrote: “From Iceland to the Orkney Islands to Land’s End, from Amsterdam and Berlin to Mount Vesuvius, you have left your mark.”
Contact Danielle Ray, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8657.