Being involved in sports -- whether it was karate, basketball, or cheerleading -- has always been important to Grace Denton. But only one of those sports has made a lasting impact in the life of the Paducah Tilghman senior.
For Denton, cheerleading is more than just a hobby or pastime. It has been the driving force behind a growing passion for the community she has grown up in, and an awareness of the importance of giving back.
"A community that supports our local school programs contributes to me being able to participate in activities like cheerleading," she said. "Having the opportunity to use that program to give back or be involved in the community in any way is something I am very passionate about."
Since realizing the need her community has for youth involvement and advocacy, Denton always welcomes volunteer opportunities, often taking them on alongside her team.
For years now, she has participated in Stomp For a Cure, a local event that raises money for all types of cancer. She has had several experiences at the George Wilson S.A.F.E.T.Y. Foundation's annual summer camp, which have allowed her the opportunity to interact with youth in the community, teaching them cheers and dances with her team.
A current Paducah Bank Teen Ambassador, Denton said she has been thankful for the opportunity to represent her school, often taking on volunteer work such as helping paint the kindness mural in Paducah.
"We also got to give out ice cream to a local high school that had just experienced a tragedy," Denton said. "But it has connected me with different people in the community."
It's those connections, Denton said, that enabled her to coordinate the Paducah Tilghman varsity team's involvement in the annual Color Walk for Kindness this year.
"Being able to combine two of the most important factors of my life, cheerleading and my community, is something I strive for," she said.
Denton, the daughter of Heather and Glenn Denton, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week. Each week in the online edition and Tuesday in the print edition, The Sun features a teen selected from nominees submitted by guidance counselors throughout the region.
Near the end of the school year, one of the students profiled will be named Teen of the Year and will receive a $5,000 scholarship. An additional student will be chosen for an Inspiration Award and a $1,000 scholarship.
Denton is ranked 10th in her class of 161 students and is on the honor roll. She works at her school paper, The Tilghman Bell, is a member of Future Business Leaders of America, Beta Cub, PTHS Concert Choir, Kentucky Youth Association and the National Honor Society.
She is a two-time All American cheerleader, Paducah Tilghman varsity cheerleading captain and has received the Paducah Tilghman Varsity Cheerleading Excellence Award for three consecutive years.
Since Paducah has been the place she has called home for 16 years, Denton said she feels it's very important to give back to the community that has done so much for her.
"Being a cheerleader at Paducah Tilghman High School has been so much more than just cheering on the sidelines," she said. "It has opened many doors that have connected me to my community, and I could not be more thankful. Cheerleading has allowed me to combine two of my passions to make a difference in Paducah."
Although she has not fully decided what she would like to study, Denton said she will attend the University of Kentucky this fall. In the future, she said, she would love to return home to Paducah to launch her career.
By: Emily Smith