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McCracken County High School senior Lynae Lawrence credits martial arts for instilling discipline, patience, memorization and teamwork skills, helping her to focus and succeed at school.

The 18-year-old began learning martial arts as a young child, when her parents put in her in a Tae Kwon Do program. She started down a path that led to her getting a first-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, second-degree black belt in karate and a blue belt in jiu jitsu. She also does kickboxing and uses Kali sticks.

It’s something she plans to continue for a long time.

“When I started with Tae Kwon Do, we would do these things called forms, which was like a pattern,” she said. “I feel like it helps with memorization in school — and it also provided a structure of discipline for me and I was able to have success in school because of it because I learned discipline, focus, learned how to do teamwork. So, I learned all of the skills that I would need in school — I learned them at martial arts.”

Lawrence also works as an assistant instructor for Premier Martial Arts. She helps teach students of all ages. She likes sharing martial arts knowledge with young students and watching them grow in life, progress their skills and get more confidence.

“It’s helped teach me patience because when you’re learning stuff, sometimes it takes a lot to get the move down right or to memorize it, so patience, teamwork, respect — a lot of things,” she said.

Lawrence, daughter of Ben and Shayna Lawrence of Paducah, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.

Each Monday and Tuesday, The Sun profiles area high school seniors chosen from a pool of nominees for Teen of the Week consideration. Around the end of the school year, a selection committee chooses one student as Teen of the Year, which carries a $5,000 scholarship. Another student will receive an Inspiration Award and a $1,000 scholarship.

Lawrence is a top student in her class at McCracken County High School with a 4.3 weighted cumulative GPA. She earned a composite 32 ACT score and attended the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars program last summer at Centre College. She described the scholars program as a lot of fun.

“It wasn’t like a lot of schoolwork but we got to have discussions. My subject was Spanish,” she said. “We did learn a lot of Spanish and we learned a lot about the Hispanic culture. I was able to go to an ESL camp, English as a Second Language camp, and we were able to help those kids learn some English one week.”

At school, Lawrence participated in National Honor Society, Beta Club, HOSA, Mustangs on a Mission, Environmental Club, Pep Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and served as a Future Business Leaders of America officer. She plans to attend the University of Kentucky and wants to major in integrated strategic communications, possibly minoring in business management or Spanish.

Lawrence hopes to use creativity in her professional career, such as working as a creative director in marketing or for a business. Marketing is interesting to her as it involves trying to get a connection with people. She helps with some of the creative work through her job at Premier Martial Arts.

She’s looking forward to college with her senior year almost over, which she called “challenging.”

“I think I’m definitely excited to graduate, to move on to college because I’ve been in high school for four years and got that ‘senioritis,’ so I’m ready to graduate,” she said.

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