CONWAY — Peter Woodson does his best to be a bright light in an oftentimes dark world. His secrets to success are God, perseverance and positivity.
“He’s very important. He put me on this earth,” Woodson said of how important God is in his life. “… I just don’t think about negative things. I just think about the bright side to everything. I try to at least if I can. If there’s not a bright side to something, I just don’t really think about it.”
That optimism is something that Woodson, 18, a senior at St. Joseph School in Conway, has held onto throughout his life, learning to live with apraxia of speech and other learning differences that require some special education curriculum.
“I just have to work hard … I just manage it, live life. Every Friday me and a friend would go have a speech session for about 40 minutes” during the school day, he said.
Teri Breeding, counselor at St. Joseph, said Woodson “has the most positive attitude and has put so much effort into his studies despite his learning disabilities. He doesn’t let anything get him down.”
The middle of three children to Tim and Cindy Woodson, he has attended St. Joseph School since fifth grade. For the past four years, he has served as a manager for the senior girls’ basketball team.
“Keeping stats, filming games,” he said are some of his responsibilities. “I just like being at the games and helping the team. And I help fill up the water bottles.”
As a member of the Boy Scouts, Woodson has volunteered in the community, including helping at the Beaverfork Triathlon, where he and others handed “water cups to the runners and we would all have to get there at 5 a.m. and we would direct parking.”
As a scout, he has done everything from hiking near Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, to canoeing near the Northern Tier High Adventure camp in Minnesota.
Woodson earned his Eagle Scout distinction by helping out St. Joseph Elementary School.
“Right in front of St. Joseph elementary there’s a fence around the garbage dump, and I rebuilt that fence,” Woodson said. “It was improving how the front of the campus looks and since the garbage dump is in front of the campus it’s one of the first things people see when they pull in the parking lot so it gives a nicer fence for people to look at.”
He is a member of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America Club and has helped serve at the school’s endowment banquet, as well as at the annual bazaar.
“It means that I’m giving back to my school and church and my community,” he said.
While Woodson said he’ll miss “all my friends and the atmosphere” of St. Joseph, he is happy to attend University of Arkansas Community College in Morrilton and plans to later transfer to the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.
And the hope is to one day come back to the school he loves.
“I would like to study kinesiology and physical education to become a basketball coach. I would like to coach high school. I would like to come back and coach here,” Woodson smiled.
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