The Paducah Tilghman senior is in the running to be valedictorian of his graduating class with a 4.333 GPA, an impressive number of Advanced Placement classes under his belt and involvement in a seemingly impossible number of extracurricular activities - varsity baseball, football, soccer, academic team and mock trial team included. He also tutors when he can and volunteers regularly through school clubs and through his youth group at Lone Oak Church of Christ.
"I don't see myself as busy," he said. "I've always just kind of enjoyed it. Looking at the big picture, all the things I've done, it's overwhelming, but when I appreciate it and take it day by day, it's just what I'm accustomed to. And it's always been fun for me."
Butler, son of Danny and Lori Butler, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week. Each Monday, The Sun features a different teen selected from nominees submitted by school counselors across western Kentucky and southern Illinois. This spring, a Teen of the Year will be chosen from the weekly winners. The Teen of the Year will receive a $2,500 scholarship.
Butler started playing baseball and soccer when he was a young kid and began competing on academic team in elementary school. Athletics have always been a way for him to take a break and de-stress, Butler said, while academic team has been a great way for him to challenge himself intellectually. It's through academic team that he found his passion for math and science.
"Through academic team competitions I realized that's where my strengths are," he said. "It's always come really natural to me. And I like it. The order of it, where you can count on things being a certain way, that order is what's drawn me to math and science. Sometimes it's difficult, but that challenge, I like it."
Right now Butler plans on studying to become either an engineer or doctor, both of which would allow him to continue his passion for math and science in a way that contributes something and helps people, he said.
He's waiting to hear back on scholarships, but he's narrowed his options to University of Louisville and several out-of-state schools. He's excited to see someplace new, he said.
"Living in Paducah, it's been really good to me, but I also want to experience something different," he said. "Still, Paducah's great. I can see myself possibly coming back here. I've built so many relationships here, it's hard to walk away from that. This is home."
Though Butler's excited for new things to come, he's appreciative of what he's been given and the support he's gotten along the way. His older brother had an especially significant impact on him, he said.
"My brother was actually Teen of the Year when he was a senior," he said. "He's set a pretty good example. He has his strengths and weaknesses, and I have mine, but we've always been really close. I've always looked up to him, and he's always been so supportive. He knows me better than anybody, and his example has helped me along my path."
The path can get a little hectic at times, but Butler feels it's all worth it.
"If you just keep in mind that this is the right thing to do, it's going to get you where you need to go, it's going to help people, it's going to help you," he said. "There are different interpretations of right, but that's what's always driven me. Just trying to do the right thing."