Elizabethtown High School freshman Ellie Paynter fills her time with dance, tennis and giving back.

She’s danced with Center Stage Dance Studio of Elizabethtown for 10 years.

“I love the energy and positivity I get from the classmates I dance with,” she said, adding the dance studio is like family to her.

Paynter also enjoys learning the tech­niques of dance.

When she attends college, she hopes to join the dance team. Currently, she takes dance for 10 hours a week.

This year, she will dance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The theme is “Let it snow.” She’s excited to go to New York City for the first time.

For many years, she danced at Walt Dis­ney World in Orlando, Florida, with Center Stage Dance Studio.

During the summer, Paynter volunteered at St. Vincent De Paul thrift shop and during the school year she volunteers for Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland.

At the thrift shop, she dusted and cleaned the store and occasionally worked the register.

“I find it to not only be good for yourself to make you a better person, but you’re also helping others,” she said.

There are many options for volunteering, she said, with something for everyone. You also get to impact people, Paynter said.

“It’s universal and really important to me,” she said of volunteering.

She got involved with tennis in fifth grade. She doesn’t like the competitiveness of it, but likes playing with her friends. She also plays golf.

As a part of the Louisville Fashion Council, Paynter meets once a month to talk to other girls about hair, make-up and modeling tips, she said.

If you want to be a model, it helps prepare you for it, she said.

She’s done some modeling for her dance studio and is not looking at it as a career, but as something fun to do occasionally, she said.

Although just a freshman, she already has career goals. Paynter wants to become a lawyer because her mother is one and she loves debating. But she also wants to minor in nutrition or some other science field because she’s interested in how things work.

Her mother, Heather, said she’s proud of watching her transition to high school and become successful in and out of the classroom, especially going from the private school environment of St. James Catholic Regional School to a public high school.

“She’s carrying a 4.0 GPA and is involved in the Y-Club, Beta Club, Future Business Leaders of America and was elected into student council,” she said. “All of these organizations require community service and I’m grateful for her service to different organizations in Elizabethtown.”

She’s also watched Paynter compete in golf and tennis, balancing the challenges of athletics, academics and other commitments.

Traveling is another passion, Hea­ther said, adding Paynter has been to seven countries and is preparing for her first mission trip this spring.

“Watching her manage her schedule and time is tough occasionally, but she makes it work,” she said. “She gives her whole heart into whatever she’s doing at that very moment.”

She’s amazed at the dancer she’s become and is excited to see her perform in the Macy’s parade.

“It seems like there’s rarely a week that goes by that she’s not coming home with some new activity to try or an idea that she’s excited about,” she said. “But, honestly, what I’m most proud of is her kind spirit and her commitment to try to live a good, simple life.”

Paynter wears a cross necklace every day as a sign of her faith and convictions, Heather said.

“Of course, she’s not perfect and she makes mistakes, but she’s definitely got a good head on her shoulders and seems to have a strong moral compass,” she said. “I’m not sure where life will take her, but I’m confident she’ll get there successfully and probably dancing across life’s stage.”

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1740 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

Becca Owsley is a features reporter at The News-Enterprise.