McCracken teen chose to be part of a positive change, created foundation
Morgan Guess' struggles with bullying at age 8 propelled her to effect change for others and she turned those experiences into a passionate anti-bullying message, spreading kindness and awareness. "My parents gave me three options: I could ignore it. I could blame others or I could part of a positive change," she said. "I chose to be a part of a positive change because I wanted to do something. I wanted to help myself, but I also wanted to help others. It was my first introduction to violence and I didn't know what to do with it. I shut down and I realized that in every way, shape or form - people have that at different stages of their lives."
The 17-year-old McCracken County High School senior became co-founder of the Guess Anti-Bullying Foundation and served on the 26-member Kentucky Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force. The foundation has been a force behind different projects and initiatives, ranging from kindness murals and an annual kindness color walk to lobbying for legislation to define bullying in Kentucky. The law passed and now helps protect all 640,000 public school students. "There were three Democrats and three Republicans on the task force. I heard how the sides don't like each other," she said.
"But, I really saw how despite differences they all came together for a common good. I saw how they lifted me up and lifted each other up. It's something I've wanted to be a part of since." She's currently thinking about a double major in mathematics and international relations for undergraduate study at college. Her "dream" school is Duke University, but she's looking at other options too.
"I like that there's always a way to find a definite answer," Guess said, regarding math. "You can take many different ways to get there, but at the end of the day, you'll find one answer. It's never up for debate really. I like the consistency of it and I like being analytical. I like to look at numbers and see how they really translate into our everyday life." Guess, daughter of Susan and Craig Guess of Paducah, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.
Each Monday and Tuesday, The Sun publishes profile stories on area high school seniors chosen from a group of nominees for Teen of the Week recognition. Around the end of the school year, a committee names one of these students as Teen of the Year, which carries a $5,000 scholarship. Another student will receive an Inspiration Award and a $1,000 scholarship.
Guess has earned a 4.38 cumulative weighted GPA at McCracken County High School and ranks fourth in her class. She's an AP Scholar and received a 34 composite ACT score, in addition to many other achievements, such as being recognized with a national Jefferson Award, which honored outstanding public service by a person 25 and under. She's participated in various school activities, including Pep Club, Y Club, National Honor Society, Mustangs on a Mission, Beta Club, HOSA and others. Guess particularly enjoys Pep Club and has "so much love" for the school. "I've always dreamed, since McCracken's been a school, to be the one in the front doing the chants and making the themes and I always remembered how happy I was to be a part of the student section," she said. "So, I'm just elated that I get to help plan that now."
As for senior year, Guess described it as an "interesting" time to be seniors, and she hopes everyone stays positive, in light of changes in school with COVID-19. She also wants to enjoy every little moment. "This is the last time all of us will be together because once we go to college, we all have different dreams and aspirations and we'll all be all over (the country), so this is the last time being around all those people that have really shaped me as a person," she said.
"That's my No. 1 goal and also just to remain challenged during the year."