Sometimes a push in the right direction comes from out of nowhere.
Before Annilin Severns became a four-year volleyball player at Paducah Tilghman High School — and a varsity captain this year — she was an eighth-grader with little volleyball experience or interest.
“The coach actually talked to me my eighth grade year because I was tall,” Severns said. “So I went to a little camp thing and I liked it, so I just kept going.
“Being in that position, it helps you learn how to make a team work together ... I like that a lot.”
Thriving in groups is a theme with Severns as she became a section leader in the Band of Blue, playing French horn, and president of the Reidland United Methodist Church’s youth group.
Combining her involvement with a 3.8 grade-point average in challenging courses makes her Teen of the Week.
Severns, daughter of Jennifer and Scott Severns, 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.
Perhaps the biggest compliment to Severns’ character and abilities is how challenging she is to her teachers.
As Alan Tucker, Paducah Tilghman science teacher, puts it: “Having students like Annilin is very challenging for a teacher. The teacher must keep things flowing in order to keep up with her. She is the type of student most teachers look for but seldom get.”
Severns handles significant responsibility in stride, according to Patrick Saddler, the school’s band director.
“As section leader, Annilin had the responsibility of overseeing the motivation, discipline, and work ethic of approximately 72 students,” Saddler said.
“She is an extremely focused and committed young woman.”
That focus and commitment led her to be involved in the National Honor Society, the school’s recycling club and National Beta Club. Other activities Severns takes on are student council, hand bell choir at her church and the high school’s choir.
She spent two weeks last summer at the Lakeshore United Methodist Assembly in Eva, Tenn., serving as a volunteer counselor. She chooses to speak more about helping an autistic middle school student learn trumpet than receiving the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s All State Academic Award. That probably has something to do with all of her youth service with her church, including a puppet ministry she helped start for the young church members.
“The kids love it,” Severns said. “They’re just drawn in and it’s great.”
Severns is still considering several universities, including DePaul, Kentucky and Millsaps College.
She’s interested in pharmacy or medicine, but not committed to a major just yet. Wherever she ends up, Severns will be ready for a challenge. Perhaps the professors should be ready for a challenge, too.
Contact Adam Shull, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.