BARDWELL, Ky. - Holly Burgess has a talent that can pull her through tough times.
It helps the Carlisle County High School senior when she feels the stress of being a three-sport athlete.
It comes in handy again while she strives to maintain her 3.4 grade-point average.
Even when a small rift ripples through her tight-knit friends, her skill is there to help.
Her talent: Baking a mean batch of brownies.
"Baking brownies, definitely," Burgess said from under thick red curls. "That's what I'm really good at."
Burgess hopes to turn her skills in the kitchen into a career as a pastry and cake chef, and possibly own her own business.
Judging from her achievements in high school nothing will stand in Burgess' way.
Burgess, daughter of Chadd and Jada Burgess, 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 in 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 Newspaper in Education program.
Burgess applied to Sullivan University, which has three Kentucky campuses, to pursue a culinary arts degree.
"Holly is very dedicated and strives to do her best," said Julie Hook, Burgess' cheerleading coach.
"She sets very high goals for herself, and the squad, and does her best to reach them."
Between cheerleading, softball and volleyball, Burgess said she enjoys the latter the most. As proud as she is of becoming class president this year, and of being a four-year BETA Club member, Burgess covets her volleyball achievements.
"We just won districts," Burgess said with pride.
And whether it's in an athletic setting or in the community, Burgess exudes a quality close to impossible to teach: unprompted caring and generosity.
"She is the type of person everyone in the class wants to work with," said Miranda Wilson, Burgess' English teacher.
"She is patient and diligent in everything she tries to accomplish."
Burgess is in her school's Pals program, which has older high school students mentor and tutor preschool-age kids.
Carlisle County High School is small (63 seniors), and all grades and ages roam the campus, including preschoolers.
When they see Burgess in the hall a few light up like a Christmas tree. "It's a lot of fun seeing them comes out of their shells," Burgess said.
It's that sense of care that led to her volunteering with kids and her town's Christmas and Halloween parades.
It'll also let her blaze a trail while baking a lot of brownies.
Contact Adam Shull, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.