BRIENSBURG, Ky. — High school senior Drake Jackson sat in an office of Christian Fellowship Church looking like he might sink through his chair.
Calculus teacher Carolyn Buchholz had walked over from the adjoining Christian Fellowship School to talk about the student she’s known since he was in fourth grade.
“This could very well be a once in a lifetime occurrence for me,” Buchholz said within earshot of Jackson. “Students like (Jackson) just don’t come around very often.”
And it’s not just one teacher dishing out high praise to Jackson. “The consensus among Drake’s teachers is that we want to be nice to him so that someday he will invite us to the White House when he is president,” said Freda Rowley, school counselor.
Jackson was red-faced embarrassed at the praise but proud, too.
“That means so much,” Jackson said. “I’m pretty self motivated ... I’m a Christian and I believe you’re supposed to do everything to the best of your abilities.”
It’s a belief he puts into practice. Jackson has a 4.0 grade-point average in the most challenging courses he can take. The 18-year-old is a four-year varsity captain of the school’s academic team. As a junior, Jackson was a regional finalist in mathematics at the Governor’s Cup, an academic competition. That year he was also a district winner in composition. He took over as president for student council this year, after serving as secretary/treasurer for three years.
Jackson has another honor to add to the list this week.
Jackson, son of Chris and Lori Freeland of Benton and Dean and Amber Jackson of Cadiz, 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.
Jackson has a true curiosity and desire to learn, Rowley said. As a result, Jackson tends to collect achievements and impressive grades on his way to being more fulfilled intellectually and as a person rather than viewing achievements and grades as end results, she said.
He loves sports (especially Kentucky college basketball), too, which is why he became the statistician for Christian Fellowship’s baseball team. He also helps broadcast games at WCBL in Benton.
Which does lead to one complication. Jackson hopes his 2230 SAT score and 36 score on the ACT, along with his community involvement, will help with scholarships to maybe attend Kentucky basketball rival Duke University.
“We’ll see,” said Jackson, who is also applying to UK, Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., and Davidson University in North Carolina. “I can still go there (Duke) and keep my deep-seeded hatred of the Duke University basketball team.”
Contact Adam Shull, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8653.