As cheerleading captain at Heath High School, senior Paige Souder does a little bit of everything.
“In the stunt group I fly sometimes, then I can also lift the girls and I do tumbling and jumps and cheers,” Souder said. Souder learned her versatility during four years of cheerleading, and it’s a talent she applies in and outside of the classroom.
With a 4.0 grade-point average, Souder has ranked first in her class academically every year of high school.
The Governor’s Scholars program accepted her as a junior.
Souder balances achievements, such as top-three finishes this year in three different categories of the Governor’s Cup academic competition, with social positions, such as yearbook editor and coach of a youth Upward Soccer team.
“I like to stay involved: to get out there and help anyway I can, and have fun.”
That she does so at such high levels helps make her Teen of the Week.
Souder, daughter of Richard and Tammy Souder, 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.
Souder has the ability to try her hand at anything, and learn something in the process.
Two months into being yearbook editor, the computers students use to create the annual crashed and forced them to start all over again.
“It’s been kind of crazy this year,” Souder said. “It’s a lot of work but it’s been fun.”
Overcoming that hurdle is easier with Souder’s leadership skills gained in Future Business Leaders of America for four years, and as president of National Honor Society this year.
She is also a part of the Friends of Rachel Club, which fosters kindness and a sense of welcoming among students. The club pays homage to Rachel Scott, the first casualty of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colo. Souder has made gift baskets for students who have lost family members.
It is those kinds of personal touches, along with her intellect in high gear, which make Souder stand out.
It’s a versatility that allows her to land a perfect score on an advanced-placement biology test during her junior year, and to organize a canned food sculpture contest that the school gets jazzed about and displays at football games.
It lets her consider a pre-medical degree in biochemistry and molecular biology in college, while exploring writing and art nurtured by her practice at live sketches through the Gifted and Talented Art Program.
“It’s kind of been interesting, though, to mix things up so you have to just stay focused on one thing at a time,” Souder said.
She is considering attending Murray State University, Transylvania University in Lexington or Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn.
Contact Adam Shull, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.