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Nick Beeny, 17, a senior at Paducah Tilghman High School, eats breakfast in bed while Sadie (left) peeks through the door looking for a bite to eat. He wakes up every morning at 6 a.m. "I'm not a morning person," says Nick, who puts in long days with school work and activities.

Busy Beeny

story by Weston Kenney

Nick Beeny was a freshman at Paducah Tilghman High School when he came out of his shell. In front of 50,000 fans, Nick performed with the marching band during the halftime show at a college bowl game in Jacksonville, Florida.

“That was the first time I didn’t feel nervous,” Nick says. “I felt confident.” 

Nick, 17, struggled with self-confidence during middle school, but he says he found his passion when he joined the marching band.

Though some seniors tend to coast through their final year of high school, Nick has continued to challenge himself. He is taking five advanced-placement classes and participating in four extracurricular activities: band, academic team, choir and the school musical.

“I don’t want to sit back and take a break,” Nick says. “I actually want to push myself and grow more.”

Nick says he has particularly challenged himself through his role as the marching band's drum major. “I have to put on kind of a persona when I’m up there,” he says.

After becoming more comfortable in his new leadership role, Nick is starting to realize that this is what he wants to do for a career.

“I’d love to be a band director,” Nick says. "If I can do good up there, I can inspire people to do good on the field show. If I learn and work hard now to be a good musician, I can someday be a role model to students." 

Band Director James Gregory agrees.

"He's a very intelligent and talented young man," Gregory says. "He has all the tools to be an outstanding band director someday."


Nick (center) jokes with his fellow academic team members during their practice in the school's biology room. He joined the team to challenge himself and to hang out with friends.


Nick conducts the high school band during its daily rehearsal in the music room. He has played trombone in the band since his freshman year and is now the drum major.


Nick organizes his backpack between classes, some of the only free time he has during the busy school day.


Nick and classmate Will Denton, 17, listen to their biology teacher's lecture. He spends a lot of time in this room, between this class and academic team practice.


Nick dances during choir practice. He recently added choir to his extra-curricular activities.


Nick relaxes and watches television at home. He is a Chicago Cubs fan and has enjoyed watching their run in the National League playoffs this year.


Nick plays trombone during his school's homecoming football game. Even though he is the band's drum major, he still plays on some songs in the stands.


Nick conducts the band during the halftime show at the homecoming football game. He says he feels confident in the leadership position.


Nick is presented at the homecoming game along with his parents, Jeff and Debbie Beeny. "This is where I've always wanted him to be ... comfortable in his own skin," his mother says.

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