From our schools: Burns perfects a difficult balance

Published 6:27 am Monday, April 30, 2018

By Ashton Cox

In high school, it is often challenging to stay on top of academics while participating in sports, much less engaging in other after school activities, too. One senior student has perfected this difficult balance and is an all-around individual who shines in academics, sports and the arts. It is amazing how much she can squeeze into a twenty-four hour period.

Senior Sarah Burns, with a 4.25 GPA, finds time to participate in soccer, track and field, swim, dive, dance, vocals and piano. Not only is she involved, but Burns excels in all of them.

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This drive toward excellence academically and through her activities did not develop overnight. From an early age, her parents always encouraged her to give her best. Burns shares, “I think it’s just an attitude that my parents raised me with. They taught me to have drive and a good work ethic to always do my best. And because of that, for as long as I can remember, I’ve had that mentality.”

“My whole life I have been academically driven; it’s something I’ve worked hard for, and it is something I’m proud of.” From being on the academic team in elementary school to now ending her senior year taking four AP classes and earning a full ride to the University of Louisville, Burns has proven that extra hard work pays off.

Photo taken by Anita Cannon
Sarah Burns spent her fall evenings competing on the soccer field as goalkeeper for the Lady Rebel Soccer Team.

As most children do, they observe activities and sometimes have an interest in trying them. Burns was not any different.

As an example, Burns developed a fascination for singing at a young age. “Growing up, my mom would sing at church and I would watch her and I became more interested. I remember watching American Idol and from the age of 8, I loved to sing all the time. I got really interested at that point.”

In elementary school, piano became an interest as well as dance. Just like singing, after observing others’ performances, she would challenge herself to try. “I started dance in fourth grade and I fell in love with it. None of my friends danced at the time so I liked that I was different.“

Her early efforts resulted in developing a passion for these artistic activities. Because of her flourishing talents in the arts, she decided to apply at the end of her sophomore year for the Governor’s School for the Arts (GSA).

After a grueling audition process, Burns was one of approximately 2,000 Kentucky sophomore applicants to be chosen to participate in GSA’s three week summer program for artistically gifted upcoming juniors.

Burns and 224 other talented artists engaged in various classes such as choir, sight reading, music theory and private lessons, with solo performances as the culmination. “I think my personal growth as an artist is one of the best things I took away from the program.”

In a very rare feat, Burns was also selected for a prestigious five and a half week summer program known as GSP (Governor’s Scholar Program) the very next year. Burns was chosen for her academics, volunteer work, and extracurricular achievements. “My favorite part about GSP was that I had the opportunity to learn content that wasn’t for a grade.

“I owe so much to these Governor’s Scholar programs, they’ve really shaped who I am today. And they were by far the best summers of my life.”

This incredibly talented individual doesn’t just confine herself to the arts. She is also a skilled athlete. She began to swim competitively at the age of 5, while also spending time on the soccer field. She continued to play in both throughout high school but decided that was not enough.

During her freshman year, she was thrust into the role of back-up goalkeeper eventually earning a starting position by the end of the year. Incredibly, she ended her soccer career with three all-state honorable mentions as well as three all-region team accolades.

Burns’ high school swim career also included time on the diving board. Between swim and dive, she qualified each season for state championship competitions in both. But as if that was not enough, in the spring of her junior year, she decided to learn how to pole vault to participate with the track and field team.

Pole vaulting coach Damian Laymon shared, “Sarah is one of the most hard-working athletes I’ve ever encountered in my life. She’s unbelievably mature and has come incredibly far in such a difficult sport as pole vault.”

Although Burns has a lot on her plate, because of her determination and passion for her activities, she has been able to excel well beyond what she imagined. “I’m the type of person that is only satisfied when I know I have done what I’m capable of.”

“I’m also the type of person that believes that you should spend time doing what you are passionate about. I feel very blessed that I have access to a great public education while some kids in other countries will never learn to read or write.

“My life is definitely busy, but I don’t do anything I don’t enjoy.”