With our local schools consistently ranking among the top in the state, it’s no wonder that our community continues to see exceptionally talented students excelling both in and out of the classroom.
This year’s list showcases extraordinary students with drive and passion. From creating artificial gravity to growing lima bean plants in anticipation of man’s first voyage to Mars, to actors, athletes and promising politicians, it’s safe to say that this group of teenagers have very full futures ahead.
DARIEN HIGH SCHOOL
CLASS OF 2025
WHY MITCH IS A TEEN TO WATCH:
• Started a prominent Instagram account (with over 1K followers)
• Team photographer for Darien High School Junior Varsity Hockey and Varsity Lacrosse
• Played on Freshman and JV Soccer team at Darien High School
• Participated in productions for DAF Media
• Member of church youth group
• Photographs for multiple youth sports
I would like to pursue a career in… Sports production. I’ve realized that there are so many career paths within the industry, and many of them excite me.
In the fall I will be… on the field. I hope to play soccer for Darien High School, while continuing to capture photos and videos of DHS teams for DAF and on my own.
My interest in photography began… just out of curiosity. My Mom asked me to take pictures at my brother’s basketball game with her old Nikon camera. I then decided to tinker with it in the spring of 2022. I started taking pictures, mostly on athletic fields, and sharing them with friends. Once I saw their exciting reactions to my work, I really understood that my work mattered. That’s where this all began.
My role models include… my parents. They’ve taught me about hard work, kindness, and staying positive, even in times of challenge.
I like to decompress by… playing golf with friends and family. Being outside, chasing that little white ball (usually in the woods), is my happy place.
The best part of photography is… the connection. I really enjoy staying connected to the athletes, teams, parents, coaches and community through my work. It makes me feel part of the overall program, and makes me work harder to be better for everyone involved.
My dream job would be… a team photographer for a professional sports team. Being able to go to the stadium everyday to capture moments from the best athletes in the world would be a dream.
In 10 years I’ll be… hopefully making a positive difference somewhere. It’s hard to know exactly what the future will bring, but I want to make a positive contribution to a company and community in whatever it is I do.
A hard lesson I’ve learned was… that nothing is just handed to you. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, even if it takes you out of your comfort zone.
My best study tip is… hard work is up to you. The only person to stop you from working harder is you.
NEW CANAAN HIGH SCHOOL
CLASS OF 2024
WHY ANABELLE IS A TEEN TO WATCH:
• Took 11 higher level courses which included five AP courses
• Ran cross country for all three years at the high school
• Elected president of the choir for the 2023-2024 school year
• Played Marian Paroo in the New Canaan High School theatre department’s production of the Music Man
• Elected VP of the theatre club for the 2023-2024 school year
I spent my summer… at a musical theater intensive at Penn State University. This intensive provided me with an inside look as to what a day in the life might look like for a student intending to major in musical theatre. I was immersed in all styles of dance, vocal technique classes, and acting technique classes; I just loved it!
Acting has given me… an outlet to express myself in forms that are unattainable otherwise. I feel so privileged to be able to live in fantasy worlds and tell the stories of those who came before me, breathing theatre to life is truly magical and gives me so much joy.
In 10 years I will be… hopefully living in New York City and auditioning/working as an actress.
Before a performance you can find me… socializing with my peers. Although it is most definitely necessary to get a full and thorough warm up in, I find it important to connect with my cast mates to continue building bonds and trust. Without the connection off of the stage there would be no glue to hold us together on stage.
The best part about my school is… the theater department. This answer may seem obvious coming from me, however, in a town like New Canaan which can be centered around our incredible sports program, it has been so important for me that I have found this theater enclave, so to speak. In our little corner of the school I have made some of my best friends and discovered what I want to do for the rest of my life.
I like to decompress by… vegging. Vegging is my way of saying I like to crawl into bed, put on a good show, and have some uninterrupted time for at least two hours.
In college I hope to… learn more about myself as a person so I can become a better artist.
The hardest lesson I have learned was… that I can’t control everything. In the winter, the week before our main stage production of the Music Man, I got laryngitis. Being a performer, my voice and my body are my instrument so the fact that it had let me down was so frustrating. Ultimately I had to learn that it was out of my control and it all happened for the right reason.
A big part of being on stage is… energy. That sounds like a given, however, what some shows lack is the sheer excitement that starts with the cast. If the cast doesn’t look like they’re enjoying themselves then its over for the audience.
In the fall I will be… going into my senior year and prepping for the upcoming college audition season.
ST. LUKES SCHOOL
CLASS OF 2023
WHY DEAN IS A TEEN TO WATCH:
• Passionate and committed to service work and founder and president of the SLS Building for Nonprofits Club.
• JV boys soccer team (co-captain as a junior)
• Kicker for the Varsity football team
• Varsity boys tennis team
• Certified scuba diver
• Elected as a Junior Class Representative
• An active part of the Math Team and has elected as co-captain multiple years in a row
• Vice president of the SLS Investment Club
• During the pandemic he completed his Eagle Scout project (for the Darien-based Troop 53) which was building 12 convertible benches for the nonprofit Grassroots Tennis and Education.
• St. Luke’s requires 20 hours of service per high school year. To date, Dean has completed more than 253 service hours.
• Inducted into the SLS Cum Laude Society.
The best part about being a three sport athlete is… staying active and competitive all year round with different groups of people outside of academics.
My passion for community service and giving back began… when I was a Scout, and now Eagle Scout, I participated in several community service projects and later organized and led my own. My Eagle Project consisted of constructing 12 benches that convert into picnic tables for Norwalk Grassroots Tennis & Education while having to adjust for social distancing for my volunteers during the pandemic. This project encouraged the tennis players’ parents to support their children and attend their matches. I did not want to finish my service with this project, so I founded Building for Nonprofits (BFN) at my school. As the only club through which students can participate in community efforts during the school day, BFN teaches students the skills of collaboration and building while benefiting the organizations who work to improve our local community. From the St. Luke’s designLab, we build for these nonprofits, free of charge.
In the fall I will be… attending Dartmouth College where I plan on double majoring in Economics and Mathematical Data Science.
One day I’d love to… learn how to do a standing backflip, SCUBA dive the Great Barrier Reef, and explore the Son Doong cave in Vietnam – the world’s largest cave with its own weather system.
My career goals include… utilizing AI to create an automated business model, such as a drop shipping business, instagram theme pages, or to analyze data to provide valuable insights for customers so that I can pursue a career in commercial real estate or finance and remotely maintain these additional sources of income.
Scuba diving provides me… an opportunity to see wildlife that is very removed from human contact, and therefore often less afraid of my presence. The animals I see 60-80 feet underwater are sometimes equally as interested in you as you are in them. Having dove with manta rays at night, pet a wild shark, and been inked on by a few squid really makes me appreciate their world and how important it is to keep the ocean clean and healthy.
My personal mantra is… “If you’re going to do something, do it right or don’t do it at all”
Before a big game you can find me… attempting a trick shot over and over again.
The best part about my school was… my Multivariable Calculus teacher, Mr. Kohl, because he went out of his way to demonstrate how the lessons we learned applied to the real world. We even went to a stream on campus to watch the curl and divergence of the water as it hit various rocks.
When I have downtime you can find me… building an altered version of something I saw online like a floating chair or table, long-boarding around town, going outside with friends, or relaxing and watching YouTube.
NEW CANAAN HIGH SCHOOL
CLASS OF 2023
WHY ANDREW IS A TEEN TO WATCH:
• HALO Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor In A Classical Musical: Harold Hill in The Music Man
• The Court Miller Award for Musical Theatre
• HALO Nomination for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor In a Classical Play: Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
• HALO Nomination for Best Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Classical Play: Emmett in Take Her She’s Mine
• Three Consecutive Years of High Honor Roll
• Senior Spotlight in the 2023 yearbook
• Vice President of Acting for the NCHS Theatre Department
• Head of Set Design for the NCHS Theatre Department
My passion for acting began… in fifth grade when I performed in my first musical. However, as I got older I grew to enjoy acting more than the musical aspects of theatre.
I spent my summer… working, spending time with friends and acting in a short film, which was my first time acting for screen.
My role models include… my brothers, my parents, Hugh Jackman and Jacob Keith-Watson, who was my acting teacher during my freshman and sophomore year of high school.
In the fall I will… be attending Tisch at NYU and pursuing a BFA in Acting.
One day I’d love to… act in films and television, but that’s not to say I want to leave musical theater behind completely. I’d love to do it on the side in addition to screen acting.
My career goals include… becoming a working actor and playing a leading role in a film.
My personal mantra is… the best way to get things done is through action.
For me, the best part about acting is… getting to play a character that is completely different from yourself.
Something that would surprise people about me is… I really enjoy playing basketball. About two months before “The Music Man” I broke my ankle while playing with my friends. I have had lots of great acting coaches and teachers that taught me a lot. However, if I had to choose one, it would be Melody Erricson. She has been heavily involved in my life since second grade and I’m extremely grateful for everything she has done for me.
THE KING SCHOOL
CLASS OF 2024
WHY JULIAN IS A TEEN TO WATCH:
• GPA – 4.40
• Honors Society, 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020
• Advanced to the SSNCT Nationals, 2022, 2023. The King School Quiz Bowl Team, 2202 – present.
• First Place in Connecticut (2021). Odyssey of the Mind Team. Performed at World Finals in Florida.
• 8th grade: AP Computer Science A, Score of 5
• Created a year-long Independent Study so he could work on self-taught projects for academic credit, such as dynamic linker and AlphaZero AI – he does this while excelling in King’s highest-level classes.
• Took AP Calculus BC, AP Physics C Mechanics – a course that is usually restricted to seniors. He is one of the top students in physics class despite being a junior.
• Taught AP Computer Science A, Python, Java, Unity, 3D modeling at SummerTech, a coding camp where he is assigned to teach the most advanced students. Last summer he designed and taught the logic gates curriculum, including binary, signed integers, binary addition, and latches.
• An essential presence on King’s Quiz Bowl team; since joining the team two years ago, the team has advanced to the Small School National Championship Tournament in Chicago.
• A competitive runner on the King Varsity Cross Country Team, and he participates in the STEM club, where his knowledge has raised the club’s skill level exponentially.
My personal mantra is… ensure a balance between work and fun. I see a lot of people my age staying up late working on homework, often procrastinating while doing so. I prefer to get my work done in a timely fashion so I can leave time for everything but school.
My career goals include… being some sort of software engineer.
In 10 years I’ll be… exploring the new technologies that haven’t been discovered yet. I love learning about new technologies.
One day I’d love to… extend what’s possible in the field of computer science.
I give back to my community by… teaching at SummerTech camp at SUNY Purchase, and creating software. Every summer I teach programming and organize fun events for campers at SummerTech. I always have a blast doing that. Last summer, I created an app that schedules games for the FairWest Public School Squash League, which encompasses Darien, Fairfield, Greenwich, New Canaan, New Haven, Westport, and Hartford. In freshman year, I built a game engine that allowed young artists and musicians to create their own music and artwork for a popular video game, resulting in tens of millions social media views of their work. Hundreds of thousands have played games built using my engine. I still struggle to comprehend the impact that it has had.
My academic interests are… math, physics, and history.
The best thing about my school was… the other students are very nice to me. I’ve never had a serious issue with someone else at school.
I would love to discover… a law which is a compromise between the need for users to understand what their software does to their computer, and the need for corporations to keep much of their source code private.
My dream job would be… any job where I work with others to solve a computer science problem. I have a lot of fun working on difficult computer science problems, and I love the idea of sharing that with others.
ST. LUKES SCHOOL
CLASS OF 2023
WHY MACY IS A TEEN TO WATCH:
• Elected to be a member of the SLS Honor Council
• Founder of the St. Luke’s Mind Matters Club to help remove the stigma attached to mental health
• Varsity co-captain of the field hockey team
• Varsity co-captain of the tennis team
• On the Student Advisory Council to the Rowan Center, a sexual resource agency that counsels victims and survivors with a goal to educate the community and eliminate sexual violence.
• Passionate about the advancement of women in politics and has both supported candidates (including giving a speech to Tara Ochman as First Selectman of Darien and introducing Senator Chris Murphy, Senator Richard Blumenthal, and Congressman Jim Himes whom she interned for this past summer).
• Social Media Coordinator for Tara Ochman
• Repeatedly elected to positions in her school’s student government
• Member of the Middle and Upper School Debate Teams, and the MS Model UN (earning an Honorable Mention), she gave an impassioned 8th-grade speech on gun violence, participated in the COLT World Language Poetry Recitation contest and created a video to support the Fox G1 Syndrome Club that she co-founded to help raise awareness and funds for that disease.
My passion for politics began… when I started campaigning for middle school Student Council positions at the ripe age of 13.
Before public speaking you can find me… walking around my house practicing with vigorous hand gestures 😉
My personal mantra is… you’re doing the best you can…try to enjoy the ride and find the good…even in the trivial things.
Being a two-sport athlete has taught me… the value in not putting as much pressure on the season’s outcome and rather devoting my energy to creating long lasting relationships with my teammates.
I spent my summer… coaching tennis, babysitting, spending time with my best friends, eating yummy food, and reading good books.
Something that would surprise people about me is… I have a food account on Instagram called @munchwithmace (shameless plug) and I love to write poetry.
I find my Zen by… listening to the New York Times’ Daily podcast, going for runs, eating tons of ice cream, and jamming out to anything Taylor Swift.
My role models are… my parents and all of my St. Luke’s teachers and mentors.
One day I’d love to… be a 60 Minutes correspondent or a CNN news anchor, join change making initiatives in the interest of social justice, learn sign language and piano and open a local bakery with my Dad. (Gotta shoot for the stars!)
The secret to time management is… waiting until the last minute, kidding…don’t do that! Make a list of your tasks on a white board and check them off as you go!
THE KING SCHOOL
CLASS OF 2024
WHY ANTONIA IS A TEEN TO WATCH:
• 1st high school sophomore to receive a STEM distinction
• King School Science Fair Winner: ESQUID (novel wave-energy harvesting device) – 2020-2021 – qualified for CT STEM Fair 2022
• Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair (CSEF) 2022 Pfizer Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Awards 1st Place High School (“A Convolutional Neural Network for Real-Time Tick Classification and Disease Risk Analysis”)
• Yale University Energy Science Lab intern
• Co-Editor of the King School Yearbook
• Performer in King’s Upper School plays and musicals and sang the National Anthem before King’s Homecoming event
• Captain of the JC Tennis Team
• Sails at the American Yacht Club in Rye and raced Optimists, Fevas and 420s
• Antonia developed an app called DETICKT IT to educate the community and beyond about the threat of tick-borne illnesses.
I would love to discover… a feasible approach to mitigate greenhouse gasses or better solutions for energy storage which would decrease the impact of climate change. I’m currently working on a photocatalytic method and a nanoparticle-based reactor to clean up oil spills as well as a novel design for converting methane into a viable source of fuel.
The thing I’m most excited about in college is… hands-on research opportunities and new experiences for both personal and academic growth.
My best study tip is… using the Feynman Technique, because when you teach a concept to others, you are more likely to retain and truly understand that information as opposed to just memorizing it.
My passion for science began… in fifth grade when I participated in my first science fair. I created “e-Squid,” an ocean buoy and Faraday device that generated electricity from waves by harnessing energy from both their vertical and horizontal displacement.
My ideal family vacation is… skiing in Austria.
My secret to time management is… prioritizing tasks and creating to-do lists.
I would describe myself as… creative, entrepreneurial, and a problem solver.
When I have downtime you can find me… walking my dog, sailing, boating, and hanging out with my friends.
My career goals include… being the CEO of my own energy or tech company.
My favorite restaurant is… Hinoki in Greenwich.
CLASS OF 2023
WHY NIKI IS A TEEN TO WATCH:
• Built a contraption with two long rotating arms on a motor, a device that generates the centrifugal force needed to create artificial gravity so that he could measure its effect on lima bean plants in anticipation of man’s first voyage to Mars.
• Took seven high level classes, including three APs
• Played Darcey in the Upper School musical, Newsies
• Recipient of the Fairfield Biology Prize
• Captain of the cross country and track team
• Instrumental in starting a winter running program
My deep interest in life on Mars began… in the summer of 2022 when I first saw the photos NASA released from the James Webb Space Telescope. Although the telescope’s primary subject wasn’t specifically our solar system, I became really interested in the possibilities of life in outer space and our future in exploring it. This interest inspired me to pursue an independent research project about gravity’s effect on life in outer space.
The best part about my school was… my relationships with the faculty and peers. Throughout my five years at Brunswick, I developed strong connections with my teachers that inspired new interests that I never thought I would have such as creative writing, poetry, and the performing arts as well as strengthened my passion for subjects that I already loved such as science, computer science, and math. The sense of camaraderie among my peers was also invaluable to my high school experience. Whether inside or outside the classroom, I always felt an overwhelming sense of support from my teachers, the Brunswick administration, and my fellow students. Although I’m excited for college, I’m going to miss Brunswick immensely.
Running provides me… with constant physical and mental challenges as well as an incredibly positive and supportive community. I’ve enjoyed being a captain on both the Brunswick Varsity Cross Country and Track & Field teams particularly because running has challenged me in ways that I have not yet encountered and I enjoyed helping my teammates face those challenges. The unique dynamic between the team and solitary nature of the sport as well as the physical demands and discipline required to improve is really motivating to me. Since joining these teams in the beginning of high school to fulfill my sports requirement, running has become an integral part of my life that I hope to continue pursuing.
My dream job would be… working as an aerospace engineer for NASA. The prospect of contributing to the design and development of cutting-edge technology while collaborating with a diverse team of problem-solvers excites me. I would be able to apply my passion for engineering, but the design aspect puts a heavy emphasis on the use of physics and art which I also enjoy.
I would describe myself as… a pretty easy-going person.
In the fall I will be… attending Yale University.
I spent my summer (and the last 3 years)… working at Joe’s Pizzeria in New Canaan, CT as well as training for Ironman 70.3 Maine. I stepped far out of my comfort zone with an event of this magnitude, but I have really enjoyed the training and the challenge so far. The best pizzeria in New Canaan has proven to have great fuel for endurance sports!
I like to decompress by… playing guitar as well as playing with my dog, Poppy. I’ve been playing guitar for most of my life and have always enjoyed covering other songs as well as the occasional jam session with friends.
My ideal family vacation is… exploring a new city or country with my family. I totally understand the allure of hot beach vacations, but I usually like to stay on my feet and explore.