The high school students featured on these next pages are truly amazing! They entered our annual Super Teens contest (nextSTEPmag.com/SuperTeens) and wowed us with their extracurricular activities, accomplishments and plans for the future. We hope you are inspired by their stories and are moved to get involved in your community. To read about winners nationwide, see nextSTEPmag.com/SuperTeens. Congratulations to all of the applicants, and especially the amazing winners!
Voted funniest girl in school by her classmates, Jessica Adair knows how to make people laugh and help out the community. “I like to be involved and do well in school,” she says. Jessica, a senior at Corvallis High School in Corvallis, Mont., is a member of her school’s Aim Higher Club, in which members volunteer at a local soup kitchen. She is also in Interact Club and CROSS club. Jessica volunteered with her church to help rebuild homes and provide food for underprivileged families in Chicago. She plans to major in history at college and become a teacher.
After moving among three different high schools, Brittany Campbell has managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA and is ranked number one in her class. “With these challenges, I have been able to keep myself organized and on top of all I do,” she says. Brittany, a junior at North Sanpete High School in Mt. Pleasant, Utah, tutors fellow students, volunteers at the local hospital and is a member of Mount Pleasant Youth City Council. She will have 60 college credits when she graduates from high school. Brittany plans on studying English or medicine at college.
While on a trek in Wyoming with his church, Curtis Jenkins produced a 12-minute film documenting the preparations and purpose of the trip. “Leadership in the movie business, even on a small scale, can be as challenging as running a small country,” he says. Curtis, a senior at American Fork High School in American Fork, Utah, is a member of art club, National Honor Society and psychology club. He also helps produce his high school’s weekly TV news program. Curtis plans to study medicine at college, and plans to continue making films in the future.
As president of her Youth Philanthropy Council, Yiwen Jia collects canned food, clothing and musical instruments for underprivileged families and students. “In a world of diversity, I am using my personal virtues of patience and care to foster communication and collaboration in both my school and community,” she says. Yiwen, a senior at Manhattan High School in Manhattan, Kan., is a member of National Honor Society, Science Olympiad and Hospital Volunteers Program. She plans to study international affairs at college. “I hope to incorporate my passions for both global economics and foreign languages,” she says.
“When I was 10 years old, I began giving back to the community through volunteer work,” says Meghan Lenhardt. She has volunteered in a research laboratory, assisting scientists in discovering a cure for meningitis in AIDS patients. Meghan, a junior at Mehlville High School in St. Louis, Mo., was named in Who’s Who Among American High School Students and is a member of National Honor Society. She is the vice president of the science club and past vice president of the senior youth group at her church and works as an animal caretaker at World Aquarium. She plans to major in marine biology at college.
Since she was 8 years old, Gabrielle Maes has been volunteering 200 to 250 hours a year. “Volunteering is just a part of my life. I never think twice about agreeing to help,” she says. Gabby is a freshman at Bettendorf High School in Bettendorf, Iowa and is currently Miss Iowa Junior National Teenager. She is the youngest volunteer for the Miss Iowa Scholarship Foundation and was awarded the Corlin Community Service Award for her volunteer work. She has also been nominated for the Mayor’s Youth Council of Bettendorf, an organization that plans safe and fun events for middle school students. Gabby plans to attend college.
While working as a lifeguard at a local swimming pool, Kathyrn Merkel saved a boy’s life. “I learned to take pride in myself and my job. If I hadn’t been watching over there, the little boy might not still be here,” she says. Kathyrn, a senior at Union High School in Union, Mo., works on the United Way Door to Door Campaign and also helps provide teenagers with safe and fun activities at the YMCA’s Leadership Organization. She also is an officer for DECA, a member of National Honor Society and captain of her volleyball team. She plans to major in psychology at college.
As an anchor for her high school’s morning news show, Gitzel Puente is realizing her dream of becoming a broadcast journalist. “I truly enjoy being on camera and working as a team,” she says. Gitzel, a senior at Cibola High School in Yuma, Ariz., is a secretary for National Honor Society, a member of student council and in GATE club. Gitzel strives to inspire those around her with a positive outlook every day. “If I am optimistic about what I do, then nothing is impossible,” she says. She plans to major in mass communications at college.
Having written more than 660 poems, Kiarra Lynn Smith has already been published in several literary magazines and taught her own poetry classes at local elementary schools. “Some teens are involved with sports, dance and various other things. These qualities do not fit me,” she says. Kiarra, a junior at Orchard Farm High School in St. Charles, Mo., is a member of the St. Louis Children’s Choir and a member of Yari Yari Literary Group. She also auctioned off a painting for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Kiarra plans to study art and writing at college.
Four years ago, Emily Wemhoff founded Project SAFE (Save a Friend Everyday) to ensure everyone in her community had a working fire alarm. “It seemed like, every day, I would open the paper and read about another tragic house fire or hear about the loss of an entire family because they were trapped,” she says. Emily, a senior at Lakeview High School in Creston, Neb., organized “Practice Your Fire Escape Plan Day Across Nebraska,” which has been recognized by the governor for the past two years. She is also a member of National Honor Society, student council, is vice president of 4-H Junior Leaders and more. Emily plans to major in mass communications at college.
Jeralyn Westercamp has spent the last eight years volunteering for the Veterans’ Hospital in Iowa City. “To show appreciation and to honor them, I feel a very important way to speak out and demonstrate my freedom is to give my time, service and involvement,” she says. Jeralyn, a sophomore at John F. Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, organized the “Warm Tidings” project to raise money to make and provide blankets to area veterans in hospitals and nursing homes. She also donated her hair to Locks of Love and is president of both the German club and Political Action club. Jeralyn plans to major in zoology at college.
As co-founder of the “Write Start” program, Matthew Wettach is helping underprivileged kindergarten students start school with all the supplies they need. “Each summer, I mow lawns and use the money to purchase 50 new backpacks filled with all the school supplies for children,” he says. Matthew, a junior at Mt. Pleasant Community High School in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, is a peer tutor and an All-State Tenor. Matthew also encouraged his community to donate winter coats for more than 100 underprivileged children. He plans to major in biomedical engineering at college.
At just 16 years old, Joni Whitworth will graduate from high school this year. “When I was 13 years old, we realized that at the rate I was moving, I would graduate at a very young age,” she says. Joni, a senior at The Delphian School in Sheridan, Ore., took a year and a half off from school to travel the world and volunteer. While in Orange County, Calif., she volunteered at a counseling center that helps people deal with grief, addictions, abuse and learning disabilities. Joni is also a student council officer, a jazz choir soloist, and plays for the varsity volleyball team. She plans to major in English at college.
Check out other Super Teens