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The Class of 2014 Keeps It Real

Our 10 Teens to Watch share their idols, study tips, favorite munchies and more...



Photos by Andrew Sullivan

Leora Bell

Academy of Information Technology & Engineering

Extra-Curricular: Leora also devotes time to her B’nai B’rith youth group.

Dream Destination: Hawaii

Favorite Author: John Green

On The Tube: Arrested Development

Role Model: “My grandpa, Irving Demeling. He’s ninety-three and a Holocaust survivor. He still drives and works out every day and has this incredible energy and spirit.”

Inspiring Journey: Her eighth grade tour of Israel with her class at Bi-Cultural Day School

Study Tip: “There’s no such thing as over-studying.” So stick with it.

Modern Teenager’s Dilemma: “Finding the time to do it all.”

Style Obsession: “I love bargains. I get great stuff at Kohl’s, Forever 21 and TJ Maxx.”

Guilty Pleasure: Chocolate with a side of “bad reality TV like the Jersey Shore or Keeping Up With the Kardashians.”

Pet Peeve: Bragging

Secret Talent: Playing the ukelele

Katrina Black

Stanwich School

Favorite Food: Pasta

Constant Companion: A book

Pet Peeve: “I can’t stand watching people be embarrassed.”

On her iPod: “I love old stuff, Billy Joel and Elton John especially. My father got me into it.”

Good Sport: Katrina plays soccer, basketball and softball.

Study Tip: “Isolate yourself. Get away from all your distractions.”

Personal Challenge: “I don’t have a lot of patience. I’ve had to work hard at developing it.”

Modern Teenager’s Dilemma: “The obsession with technology and things such as Facebook and Instagram are distracting.”

Celebrity She’d Ask to Prom: Bradley Cooper

Guilty Pleasure: 1980s and 1990s movies like The Breakfast Club

Favorite Subject: English

Fashion Obsession: “I’ve always loved leather jackets and I got one!”

Brendan George

Stamford High School

Celebrity He’d Ask to Prom: Kristin Wiig

Favorite Food: Sweet potatoes

Acting Hero: “Jennifer Lawrence keeps it real.”

Sports Hero: Tennis pro Mardy Fish

Inspired Journey: “We have some relatives who live in France and I like to stay at their Chateau.”

On the Tube: Saturday Night Live

Secret Talent: “I’m a wicked mime and do great accents.”

Modern Teenager’s Dilemma: “Technology takes over your life. So turn it off sometimes.”

Study Tip: “Don’t stress out.”

Favorite Subject: AP Psychology

Hangout: By the pool

Motto: “There’s always room for an upset.”

Proudest Achievement: “Being a Teen to Watch”

Biggest Obstacle: “I taught myself to swim so I could pass a lifeguard test to become a sailing instructor.”

Pet Peeve: “Humorless people. Have some fun!”

Opening Act: “I like a bowl of New England Clam chowder before opening night.”

Chandu Goli

Academy of Information Technology & Engineering

Celebrity He’d Ask to Prom: Mila Kunis

Something That Surprises People About Him: “I do Insanity workout videos and lost thirty pounds doing them.”

Pet Peeve: “Talking while typing. Do one or the other.”

Study Tip: “Acoustic music is a good way to relax and cut out distractions.”

Favorite Movie: The Pursuit of Happyness

Recommended Reading: The Kite Runner

On the Tube: Arrested Development

Modern Teenager’s Dilemma: “Fitting into a lot of different crowds, while still being yourself.”

Fashion Cravings: Nikes and Air Jordans

Secret Talent:I’m a pretty good photographer.”

Favorite Food: Eggplant parmigiana

Constant Companion: “My iPhone 4 but it’s way too slow.”

Pet Charity: St. Baldrick’s Foundation

Style Signature: “I love Urban Outfitters and Zara. I like to look sharp.”

Claire Howlett

Westhill High School

Guilty Pleasure: “I love bad reality TV and I’m kind of obsessed with The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.”

Favorite Food: “I have a terrible sweet tooth. I can eat a pint of ice cream a night and get away with it because I run so much.”

Essential Footwear: “I only run in New Balance.”

Her Cause: Public education. “I feel (public schools) like Westhill get a bad rap, but I’ve been lucky to get the education I received there. I like to advocate for ways to make public schools even better.”

Study Tip: “Hide your phone and don’t look at it until your work is done.”

Role Models: “I’m the youngest of four and I’ve been so lucky to have my brother [Joey] and sisters [Valerie and Natalie] to lead the way. It’s like I had extra parents.”

Hangout: “On my couch. When I’m not training or studying, I’m tired.”

Perfect Night: The Bachelor and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s

Recommended Reading: The Great Gatsby

Modern Teenager’s Dilemma “Self-inflicted pressure. We don’t need to be so perfect.”

Sports Idol: “It was (South African paraplegic runner) Oscar Pistorius. I couldn’t believe what he accomplished with prosthesis. Now I’m just disappointed.”

Bennett Leeds

Stamford High School

Secret Talent: Making pottery

Celebrity He’d Ask to Prom: “Queen Beyoncé”

Guilty Pleasure: Craisins

Favorite Food: Apples

Biggest Obstacle: “My size-15 feet make it really hard to buy dance shoes.” (So he gets them custom-made.)

On his iPod: Show tunes, heavy rap, and alternative indie

Study Tip: “I have a knack for not studying and doing alright so maybe my tips should be ignored.”

Dream Destination: The Great White Way

Dream Role: Dr. Frank-N-Furter in The Rocky Horror Picture Show “because it would be fun to wear heels.”

Favorite Actor: Neil Patrick Harris

Pet Cause: The Southern Connecticut Board of Theatre Directors, which he helped found

Role Model: Lou Ursone, executive director of Stamford’s Curtain Call “has done it all in terms of performing, but also has been successful as a teacher and manager. And the best part is he’s doing what he loves.”

Modern Teenager’s Dilemma: “Too many colleges, not enough time. How do you choose?”

Never Without: “My water bottle. I bring it everywhere.”

Hangout: “Where else? The Stamford High auditorium.”

Kaitlyn Shen

Westhill High School

Celebrity She’d Ask to Prom: Glee’s Darren Cris

On her iPod: The Glee soundtrack. “There’s a theme here. I really like Glee.”

Favorite Food: Seafood risotto

Practice Makes Perfect: Started piano lessons when she was five and still practices 45 minutes daily.

Pet Peeve: Bad grammar

Study Tip: “Make a schedule and stick to it.”

Recommended Reading: John Green’s The Fall in Our Stars

On the Tube: Criminal Minds. “Right now I’m into forensics.”

Giving Back: Kaitlyn enjoys tutoring at her alma mater, Roxbury Elementary, through her affiliation with Westhill’s chapter of buildOn.

Proudest Achievement: “My good grades”

Important Mentor: Ninth grade biology teacher Elizabeth Treado, “who cares as deeply about her students as she does the subject matter.”

Style Signature: “I do love my jewelry.”

Emma Snover

King Low Heywood Thomas

Celebrity She’d Ask to Prom: Ryan Reynolds

Beauty Obsession: “I have a shrine of twenty perfume bottles and wear something different every day.”

Pet Peeve: Nail biting

On The Tube: Gossip Girl

Special Interest: Public policy as it relates to immigration reform

Favorite Restaurant: Ching’s Table in New Canaan

Secret Talent: “I’m a pretty good baker. I make things to unwind and I love to be creative for special occasions.”

Study Tip: “Relax first. Take a walk, listen to some great music or bake something.”

Dream Destination: Bora Bora

Role Model: Businessman philanthropist Warren Buffett for his unaffected leadership style. “He still drives his own car and eats at McDonald’s. I like how he manages to be down-to-earth while being a global leader.”

Pet Cause: Neighbor’s Link

Teenager’s Biggest Obstacle: “Finding balance, keeping up a challenging course load with a lot of service requires a lot of juggling.”

Most Cherished Possession: “The (David Yurman) heart pendant I got from my dad.”

Academic Focus: Emma is working toward a distinction in foreign languages and global studies.

Important Mentor: “My advisor Christos Galanopoulous’ passion for history is “completely inspiring and always makes me want to dig deeper.” Emma has taken two courses with him.

Michael Szemenyei

Trinity Catholic High School

Celebrity He’d Ask to Prom: Jennifer Lawrence

Role Model: His father, Peter, “for all the hard work that gave my brothers and me great opportunities in life.”

On the Tube: ESPN’s Sports Center

Favorite Food: Chicken fingers

Pet Peeve: Slow Golf Play

On His iPod: Hip-Hop and Rap

Study Tip: “Don’t cram.”

Favorite Movie: Batman

Helping Hand: Mike makes volunteering at St. Leo’s Church annual parish carnival a personal tradition.

Pet Charity: The Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. “One of my brothers was diagnosed at sixteen, and I have a personal interest in the work and research they do.”

Something That Surprises People About Him: “I’m not at all quiet with my friends and family. People who know me outside of school will constantly tell me they can’t believe how loud I actually am. I like to have a good time.”

Just to Unwind: “Playing golf with my [two older] brothers.”

Modern Teenager’s Dilemma: “Fitting it all in”

Favorite Team: The Boston Red Sox

Proudest Sports Achievement: Shooting a 76 at Sterling Farms.

Paul Whittingham

King Low Heywood Thomas

Guilty Pleasure: Family Guy

Pet Peeve: “Disloyalty of any kind”

Sports Hero: Stamford’s own and baseball’s legendary Jackie Robinson

Words to Live By: “Know that your reputation is everything.”

Secret Talent: Piano playing. He’s studied and played for years; sometimes lending his talents at church services.

How He Juggles: “I really crave sleep. The price of being so busy is you never get enough.”

Recommended Reading: The Great Gatsby

Study Tip: “Pace yourself, break things down by chapter. You can take on something tough like an AP test by organizing things into workable parts.”

Proudest Achievement: His election as King’s student body president

Constant Companion: Queen Nala, his family’s miniature poodle

Favorite Subject: Chinese

Good Sport: Paul was a member of King’s Junior Varsity tennis team last year

Giving Back: A community service trip to post-Katrina New Orleans taught Paul “that what’s remarkable is that there’s an ongoing struggle to rebuild. I don’t think people realize the work’s not done.”

Dream Destination: “With all the Chinese I’m studying, I think it’s time to find a way to get there.”

Modern Teenager’s Dilemma: “Pressure; especially the pressure to get into a great college. I think we all feel it.”

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