A busy schedule split between a part-time job and six weighted classes helped a Greenwood Community High School student reach the top spot in his class.
Clayton Phillip Taylor thrived while navigating a packed schedule. The Greenwood valedictorian said he’s a Type A personality who doesn’t like to sit around or be lazy.
Taylor’s hard work resulted in a 4.62 grade-point average and No. 1 in his class. But he’s still not satisfied and hopes to excel while studying biology at Butler University before he goes on to medical school.
“I’m proud of myself, but I’ve still got a long way to go,” he said.
Work and honors classes weren’t all that kept him busy in high school. Taylor played soccer for three years, participated in National Honor Society and had the role of Jesus in a theatrical production for Greenwood Christian Church. He also went on a mission trip with his church to New Orleans and tutored elementary school children, helping them work through their problems.
His advice to other students aspiring to be in the top of their class is to find balance between school and the rest of their life, such as making time to play basketball with friends. High school is a time for fun and making memories, so homework and studying shouldn’t take up someone’s whole schedule, he said.
But to make it to the top spot, Taylor still devoted a few nights entirely to studying if he needed to.
Taylor’s motivation came from a competitive spirit that his father instilled in him. He’s always tried to beat his dad, whether on the basketball court, during impromptu chicken wing-eating contests or arguments about whether the San Diego Chargers are better than the Indianapolis Colts.
Taylor can pack away more buffalo wings than his dad but said it’s still a toss-up of who will win when they play hoops one-on-one.
He credits his parents, Eli Lilly and Co. employees Phil and Cindy Taylor, with stressing the importance of academics.
“I’m thankful to my parents because they were always pushing me and encouraging me to do the best I can,” he said. “They’ve always told me school is going to be kind of a driving force for the rest of my life, and they haven’t steered me wrong. They’ve pushed me in the right directions and given me pressure, but not bad pressure.”
Taylor didn’t start high school with the highest marks. He got a B during the first nine weeks of a ceramics course his freshman year and resolved to do better.
Art, English and history didn’t come easily, and Taylor sometimes had to spend extra time on papers or assignments in those classes.
He flourished in courses such as calculus and biology, which have been a source of interest for him.
“It’s really cool how everything works together to allow us to even live, when you think about all the organisms in our bodies that are protecting us and maintaining our metabolisms,” he said. “The conditions have to be perfect for life to exist. I want to know all there is to learn about it.”
Learning isn’t a chore when you take an interest in the subject matter, Taylor said. He always thought that interest helped him excel academically.
He plans to attend school for at least eight more years in order to become a doctor. He’s always been interested in helping people and would like to use his knowledge to do good and address people’s medical needs, he said.
Taylor plans to study biology as an undergraduate because of his interest in the subject.
“I have a passion for helping people and have been interested in the science of life,” he said. “It’s a miracle how life exists, and that interests me.”
His family has a history of attending Purdue University, but he decided to study biology at Butler instead because of the smaller class sizes. He wants to be able to ask professors questions for clarification and not be stuck in large lecture halls with 200 other students.
He’s thinking of attending medical school at Indiana University and would like to practice medicine in the area to stay close to his family.