The Graves County High School senior and National Merit Scholarship Program Semifinalist is not slowing down in his senior year with six Advanced Placement classes in addition to more than 10 AP courses he has already completed. The lifelong Mayfield resident lists calculus, mathematics and history as his favorite classes and Academic Club as one of his favorite activities.
“I really enjoy a challenge,” Woods said. “I figured out early on that chemistry and math were the things I was pretty good at and the subjects that I liked.”
Woods, son of Robert and Virginia Woods, is the Mid-Continent University Teen of the Week. Each Monday, the Sun features a different MCU Teen of the Week selected from nominees guidance counselors throughout western Kentucky and southern Illinois submitted to the Sun. Mid-Continent University will provide each Teen of the Week with a $2,500 annual scholarship to its university, which is renewable for four years. In the spring, a Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners. The Teen of the Year is eligible for a full four-year scholarship to Mid-Continent University or a cash award of $2,500, paid through the Paducah Sun, if the student selects another college to attend.
In addition to a rigorous schedule in the classroom, Woods contributes to his school through participation in the freshman mentoring program, the Graves County chapter of the Beta Club, the Young Republican Club and as a four-year member of the Agape Club. He said the key to maintaining his many obligations along with a 4.23 grade-point average is his knack for scheduling.
“I’m always planning in my head what things are due in the future,” he said. “With AP classes, there aren’t always daily assignments so I have to work to keep up with it.”
Woods is currently an officer in the Beta and Agape clubs and has participated in various charitable events, including basketball and football powder puff games and holiday community service activities. Faith is something Woods takes seriously and he draws a clear connection between his success in life and the strong presence of his religious beliefs.
“Agape means the self-sacrificing love for God,” he said. “My religious beliefs are something I take seriously. All my accomplishments I owe to Christ.”
Woods reaches out to incoming freshman students through the school’s mentorship program, which matches upperclassmen with freshmen and helps with the transition to high school. Woods said he wanted to help those new to Graves County schools because he went through similar feelings of apprehension coming from Northside Baptist Christian School and a class of eight to a Graves freshman class of about 370. This year he has mentored his younger brother, Matthew Woods, a Graves County freshman.
Outside of school, Woods enjoys playing ping pong and reading westerns and works of fiction. He also has worked mowing grass and feeding animals since age 13 at his family farm in Lawrenceville, Ill., for about a month each summer. Woods said he enjoys the shift from his academic life during the school year to more outdoor activities during the summer.
Woods’ plans include attending the University of Kentucky College of Engineering campus in Paducah to study chemical engineering. He became interested in the profession through his father, who works as a USEC lab technician, and his ongoing passion for science and mathematics classes. He also mentioned the positive impact of his Graves County High School chemistry teacher, Jeremy Krug, on his future professional goals.
Although he plans to stay close to the area, Woods said he is looking forward to the next step of his life and the different mindset associated with a college lifestyle.
“I’m excited for college and my next step,” Woods said. “Everything I’ve earned this far, I owe to my religious faith.”
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.