MAYFIELD, Ky. — Bethany Atkins overcame obstacles in her first year at Mayfield High School.
As a freshman, Atkins played basketball until a knee injury made it too painful to play any longer.
“I wasn’t going to play another sport and try to heal up, but I’m really competitive so I had to do something,” Atkins said.
Atkins switched to volleyball and laughs now about how difficult it was to work out her basketball tendencies.
“It was a little bit of a challenge because I kept wanting to do all kinds of basketball stuff with it,” Atkins said. “It always looked like I was doing a layup, and that’s not how you’re supposed to do it.”
Atkins persevered and became a co-captain her sophomore year. Which typifies how the Mayfield senior rises to the occasion.
Last year the school journalism department put out its 100th anniversary edition of the yearbook. Who was up for taking on co-editor responsibilities? Atkins.
The 18-year-old works 14 hours a week at King’s Flower Shop, has been 4-H Club president four years and holds a 3.7 grade-point average.
She qualified for the Governor’s Scholar program and spent five weeks at Centre College in Danville last summer.
And that level of accomplishment helps make her Teen of the Week.
Atkins, daughter of Julie Maquel Atkins, 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.
What impresses Atkins’ teachers is not just the length of her list of achievements, but how she carries herself.
“Bethany is most definitely the friendliest leader I have had the privilege to teach,” said Kara Dowdy, English teacher.
“Her leadership abilities abound daily in no matter what setting she is placed.”
She also succeeds no matter what language is in use. Atkins received awards for excellence in English and French classes at Mayfield.
“It’s interesting to receive the French award and English award. It was kind of weird,” Atkins joked. “But I was very honored, and it was for being a leader in the class.”
Atkins has honed her leadership skills in Future Business Leaders of America and through volunteering at the Mayfield-Graves County Animal Shelter.
That Atkins is that kind of leader given challenges in her own life impresses Lynn Henderson, school counselor.
Henderson said Atkins’ single-parent family has faced some obstacles, but Henderson remains unflappable.
“She has faced adversity and through it all has found her place and is loved and respected by all of her teachers and peers,” Henderson said.
Atkins leans toward attending the University of Kentucky in the fall to study psychology or social work.
Whatever comes her way, Atkins will have practice remaining poised in the face of challenges.
Contact Adam Shull, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.