Stamford Teens To Watch: 9 Teens with Bright Futures

There’s one thing we can say about today’s teens: They are resilient. Having come of age during a global pandemic and adapting to a “new normal,” these Zoomers have persevered beyond what was ever expected from them. Some have risen to the challenges in exceptional ways and for that reason deserve to be celebrated. And there’s no better time to recognize the achievements of outstanding students than now, as a new school year begins. In this story, we introduce you to nine of our town’s trailblazing teens.

Like the students we’ve featured in years past, this group is smart, engaged, dedicated and focused; and their interests are wide-ranging. The fact that these teens are high-achievers is a given. What makes them stand out is their desire to live their best lives. They’re committed to being good mentors and citizens, and want their efforts to have a positive impact on their communities. They recognize their potential as agents of change and are poised to do remarkable things. From a rising golf star to a poet in tap shoes, we’re proud to share their stories and bright futures with the city that raised them.

1. GABRIEL LOPEZ

Brunswick School
CLASS OF 2024

Excellence is a habit,” said the Greek philosopher Aristotle. That appears to be a mantra for Gabriel Lopez, a senior at Brunswick School whose insatiable appetite for knowledge drives him to excel in almost everything he does. Since freshman year, Gabriel has juggled some of the most rigorous course loads Brunswick has to offer—in his junior year he took six advanced placement courses, as well as honors Greek. He maintained stellar marks while juggling numerous extracurriculars, including commitments to groups like the debate team, Diversity in Action, WickPride and the school’s two magazines. He also took part in the Columbia Science Honors Program, where he studied organic chemistry. When he’s not busy with school and clubs, he works at his father’s restaurant in New Canaan. Gabriel is quick to acknowledge the kindness of those who have helped him succeed, and he pays it forward as a volunteer at Horizons at Brunswick. There, he broke tradition by being hired as an eighth-grader, a year earlier than almost every other student. Gabriel is on track to receive his school’s prestigious Classics diploma upon graduation—it’s awarded to students who complete three years of classical Latin and two years of ancient Greek. As for college plans, Gabriel hopes to attend Yale to study European languages, physical sciences and mathematics.

Photography by Andrea Carson

Based on your experience with the debate team, what makes someone a team player?
The ability to convincingly argue for something you do not agree with. In one of this year’s practice debates, in a rather politically heated motion, my teammate argued for the side he wholly disagreed with. Winning an argument is fun, but our ultimate goal is the development of our own rhetorical and logic skills.

What do you gain from your involvement with diversity and mentorship groups?
I joined diversity groups because I felt a responsibility to open the eyes of others on account of my own personal life experiences. As long as a meaningful and fruitful discussion is allowed to take place, all conversations will lead to the most powerful idea being adopted as one’s belief. In our modern society, which seems to increasingly believe there is only a right or wrong answer to everything, it’s imperative to allow open discussions to be held and all voices to be heard.

What drew you to the classics?
I wanted to study the words of the giants upon whose shoulders we stand. All academic and intellectual pursuits build off of the past. I was first drawn to the classics because I was good at it and the prospect of studying multiple languages seemed interesting. Nowadays I continue my study of the subject to read the rich traditions that have been passed down to our generation.

What’s your favorite movie?
Ratatouille

Favorite musical artist?
Tyler the Creator

If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be?
I’d choose Jesus Christ. I believe the teachings that he passed down to us still hold a certain philosophical value. At the end of the day, I believe Jesus would be the most enlightening person I could ever have the pleasure to break bread with.


2. FELICITY GOUDIE

King School
CLASS OF 2025

If this generation of students has taught us anything, it’s that no matter how young you are, it is important to speak up. Felicity Goudie, a junior at King School, is unafraid to speak about what matters to her, and she tries to do so while being a positive role model for others. As leader of the Feminist Club she’s curated an inclusive space for teens to learn, grow and connect with one another.She helps organize drives for women’s shelters, along with countless other advocacy efforts. Felicity, an honors student, was instrumental in converting the Feminist Club to a chapter of the U.N. organization Girl Up. In the process, she connected the group to a network of over 6,000 clubs worldwide. She also volunteers at her school’s ice rink, coaching synchronized ice skaters like herself, and at Building One Community (B1C), where she is a math tutor. In the future she plans to study environmental science. She hopes to be at the forefront of climate change activism.

Photography by Crane Song Photography

As a feminist, how do you push for gender equality every day?
Female representation is incredibly important to me. This summer, I went on a trip for science students to Switzerland and France. We were there to learn about the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, an international nuclear fusion project. I was the only girl who applied to go on this trip. At first I felt intimidated, but I realized how important it was for me to attend. Science and STEM are generally male-dominated fields, so it is important for girls to see female representation. After the trip, I attended a leadership summit run by Girl Up USA in Washington D.C. It’s an organization created by the United Nations Foundation that promotes the voices of young girls and gives them the tools to develop leadership skills. I learned so much about how I can create change in my community and empower other young women.

What Stamford organization are you most passionate about?
I am most passionate about Building One Community. I have been volunteering there since the summer of 2022. I work with kids in middle and high school.

What’s the best thing about working with young girls?
They get to know you and become excited to see you during the week. If I can make their learning experience fun and engaging. I feel I’m making an impact.

What’s your current binge-watch?
Modern Family

If you could time travel, where would you visit?
I would go to ancient Egypt to see how the pyramids were built.

Who’s your role model?
Zendaya, because she uses her influence and platform to make a positive impact on the world. She advocates for many issues, including mental health, social justice and body positivity. She embraces intersectional feminism and works to make a difference for all women, in addition to being a very talented actress and performer.


3. NICHOLAS BUTLER

King School
CLASS OF 2024

The numbers don’t lie when it comes to Nicholas Butler, a senior at King whose accomplishments in STEM fields and beyond are impressive. Nick (shown below at right) has consistently maintained a GPA over 4.0 since his freshman year, and his course load always includes mostly advanced classes. When it comes to dedication, Nick displays it best as co-lead of King’s Math Team. Last year, he came down with Covid-19 right before a math meet. His solution? He competed from a chair by the window as harsh winds blew outside. In addition to his math acumen, he is active in school theater—last year playing the lead in Clue—and with the Genders & Sexualities Alliance, STEM Club, cross-country team and Quizbowl Trivia team. His passion for trivia evolved into a unique computer science project with a senior—the pair developed a website that would serve as a study aid. Nick was recently invited to join King’s Honor Committee, where he serves as a founding member, peer tutor and advocate for the school’s honor code. Nick hopes to study chemistry and math in the future, but he is keeping his options open, and he wants to carve out time in his personal life for games of chess with his father.

Photography contributed

What have you learned during your time with the math team?
Although teams get the categories in advance, often there are one or two categories that are unfamiliar to a decent portion of the team. And now that three brilliant seniors are graduating and leaving the team, I need to be willing to study to fill in these gaps of knowledge. Although math team does help with my problem-solving skills, I was surprised to learn that it is also a good exercise in collaborative skills.

From STEM to the stage, how does acting fit into your varied interests?
I started interacting with the theater program at my school because I had always sung in the choir rather than playing an instrument in the band. Then a few people asked me to join the musicals, which I began participating in as a fifth-grader. Fast-forward six years and I recognize that the reason I’ve stuck around with the program is because of the great community of students and faculty.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome as a student?
Time management. And it’s something I continue to grapple with. It’s not that I never get assignments done on time. Rather, a lack of planning results in extra mental strain as I try to meet a deadline. But I’ve learned to plan ahead and have confidence in my ability to fulfill requirements. I value planning and preparation very highly, so it’s easy for me to panic when I have to go into something blind.

What’s your current binge watch?
One Piece anime

Who is your favorite musical artist?
I keep coming back to David Bowie on Spotify. I started listening to his music after reading The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik. The song Space Oddity was part of the story’s plot.


4. ATARA LOEWENBERG

St. Luke’s School
CLASS OF 2024

Atara Loewenberg, a senior at St. Luke’s School, has the characteristics of a great leader, including curiosity and an open mind . Outside of being a prestigious Senior Global Scholar at St. Luke’s, Atara is a consummate volunteer. She spearheaded St. Luke’s Midnight Run Club, a volunteer group that organizes night runs to Manhattan to deliver items to homeless people. She’s also an admissions ambassador and co-president of the SLS Jewish Affinity Group. Outside of school, she is on the board of the Stamford chapter of BBYO—the leading pluralistic Jewish teen movement. In addition to steering several regional conventions for BBYO, she was selected to participate in the Leaders of Tomorrow program sponsored by the American Jewish Committee, which aims to empower youth to develop a strong Jewish identity and speak up against injustice. Atara was also selected to join Harvard University’s Youth Advisory Board as part of its Making Youth Common initiative. Atara aspires to work for a nonprofit one day, traveling the world to build housing for those in need.

Photography by Andrea Carson

What was your experience like in D.C. at the Leaders For Tomorrow program?
D.C. was a terrific experience for me, primarily because of the friendships and connections I formed among my cohort of 120 teens from around the country. And hearing from speakers like Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt gave me the opportunity to gather knowledge about the state of the Jewish community in the U.S. This inspired me to reflect on how I can help in Stamford and communities I’ll join in the future.

Why is it important for you to give back to communities?
Helping others is as much or more of a reward for us as it is for the people we are trying to aid. In my work with the organization Midnight Run, I witnessed how much our donations and human interaction can help people in difficult circumstances feel valued.

Of the four languages you know, which one is your favorite?
Mandarin, because in learning it I’ve also learned a lot about China and Chinese culture, which is super interesting to me. And as I become more familiar with the culture, I can better appreciate the language.

Who is your role model?
My mom is my role model because she has shown me that I can do whatever I put my mind to and always believes in me, regardless of the task. She is able to balance a successful work life with her role as a present mother who is there for every major event. Without her support, I would not be where I am today.

Favorite musical artist?
Justin Bieber

If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be?
Guy Fieri. My family has always watched Food Network and we particularly like his shows. I’d love to have dinner with him at one of the restaurants featured on his show and learn about his process for finding places to go.


5. SOFIA CASTANEDA

Rye Country Day School
CLASS OF 2024

Sometimes, what sets a person apart from the pack is not what they achieve themselves, but how they offer a helping hand to others. Sofia Castaneda, a senior at Rye Country Day School, is a selfless leader who’s passionate about giving back to youth in Stamford and other communities. Sofia founded Rye Country Day’s first Hispanic and Latino Club—an affinity space for members to form deep connections with one another and motivate their peers to achieve success. Sofia is also committed to tackling systematic injustices through community service. As Youth Advisory Board Secretary at Kids Helping Kids, she has facilitated community events, food drives and summer programming for elementary school youth. She shows drive and dedication in another discipline: Sofia is the first second-chair flute to assume the responsibilities of band captain at her school. In the future, Sofia hopes to major in psychology and biology, specifically targeting underrepresented groups in healthcare to provide equitable resources and opportunities.

Photography by Andrea Carson

How can our society empower more women to pursue careers in the medical field?
We need to elevate the under-represented voices. There are so many incredible people who have been excluded from institutions and groups. If given the opportunity, they could change the face of the scientific field. It’s also important for youth to see people who look like them in the positions that they want to be in. There is nothing more inspiring than representation from someone who you feel really understands you. Organizations that open doors for youth from historically underrepresented communities are critical to social progress. I am beyond grateful for my own experience at Waterside School, which served as a support system for my career goals.

What first drew you to the flute?
It was the only instrument that I couldn’t figure out how to play—most students quickly get the saxophone and the trumpet, but the flute is elusive. After a lesson or two, I was able to get a sound out of the flute, and after realizing how delicately each key affected the sound, I was dead set on mastering the instrument. Playing the flute has taught me patience and dedication, as I sometimes find myself practicing the same minute passage for a week straight. There is nothing more satisfying than mastering a difficult piece of music.

If you could time travel, where would you go?
Ancient Greece. I would love to see the cultural epicenter that formed the Western world. And, come on, who doesn’t want to have dinner with Plato?

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?
Dealing with imposter syndrome. I’ve had to build up the self-confidence to assure myself that I am worthy of certain opportunities, even if I don’t have the same background as other people.

Current binge watch?
I’ve been obsessed with Friends for years. It’s the perfect mindless show to watch while decompressing after a long day.


6. ZACHARY MUNNO

King School
CLASS OF 2024

Here’s a teen who displays a will of iron. Zachary Munno goes beyond just aces as captain of the school’s varsity golf team. A senior at King, he started, ran and organized The Metro Cup—an American Junior Golf Association (AJGA ) State Cup event for the top junior golfers in the Metro New York area—as a way to give back to the golf community. Zachary has since raised nearly $200,000 for the event, which is a fundraiser for The Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, The Bridge Foundation and the AJGA Ace Grant Program. Zachary is also a volunteer at The Bridge Foundation—a nonprofit designed to give young men in Harlem a chance to close educational gaps and learn to play golf. In addition to those activities, he’s a member of the varsity soccer team and King’s Captains’ Council, an honors student, and a selfless leader both on and off the green. Zachary hopes to play Division 1 golf in college, as well as study physics, engineering and math. His peers think he has the drive to do all of it.

Photography contributed

What makes golf a sport that requires discipline?
It demands patience and perseverance. Every shot has to be treated with the same attention because even the slightest deviation in your swing can translate to major errors on the course. It’s a sport that feels like it asks for perfection, but it’s really about minimizing and rebounding from mistakes. You have to push yourself to keep going out there time and again, working to improve your game.

How have you transferred your love of the sport into community outreach?
One of the guiding principles I have learned from my family and school is that it is essential to be a contributing member of my local and global community. Golf has a rich history of giving back. I was inspired to do the same in 2020 when I started the Metro Cup. I can give so much more to my community and the future of golf by devoting time to these organizations, expanding access to golf and supporting educational and social resources for the students in my area.

What was your best golf moment?
Finishing the 18th hole in the first round of the Northern Junior and seeing my name at the top of the leaderboard at 3 under.

Who is your role model?
Rory McIlroy. He’s in a nine drought of winning major championships. But after his recent close call at the U.S. Open in June, he said “I would go through 100 Sundays like this to get my hands on another major championship.” I think that work ethic and dedication to process is inspiring.

If you could have dinner with one person who would it be and why?
Pep Guardiola, manager of Manchester City, which is my favorite European football team. He might be one of the most creative and tactical managers ever in soccer. I am most interested in how he keeps a team of high-level athletes motivated.

Favorite movie?
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


7. REESE JOHNSON

St. Luke’s School
CLASS OF 2024

Reese Johnson, a senior at St. Luke’s, has a lot to be proud of. Reese elevates her Jewish and Black heritages through her school work and extracurricular activities. She is an active member of St. Luke’s Jewish Affinity group and the Black Student Union Affinity. This past year, Reese was instrumental in bringing reserve soldiers from Israel Defense Forces to a lunchtime roundtable discussion through the Stamford JCC Tzahal Shalom program. As the student director of Equity & Inclusion at St. Luke’s, Reese works to maintain an environment of acceptance and inclusivity. Reese was elected to serve as the community service chair for BBYO chapter and further demonstrates her commitment to Judaism as a student leader with the American Jewish Committee/Leaders for Tomorrow teen cohort. In addition to volunteering at food drives, Reece is committed to serving area youth through sports, functioning not only as the manager of her school’s varsity field hockey team, but acting as a middle school basketball coach at Stamford Youngtimers. She’s also a student counselor at the Jewish Community Center. Reece plans to continue volunteering in the future, and has dreams of studying abroad.

Photography by Andrea Carson

How has your multicultural heritage shaped you as a person?
It’s given me a broad, expansive perspective on the world. As a biracial Jewish girl in Fairfield County, I’ve been very involved within the Jewish community. I am an active leader within my BBYO chapter, helping younger Jewish teens find meaning in Judaism through the practice of various cultural traditions. A few summers ago, I had a life-changing experience when my family and I road-tripped down South to visit my father’s family and see where my paternal grandparents grew up before migrating to New York. My aunt’s storytelling and the physical sites had an impact on me. Today, I am so grateful as my maternal and paternal sides of the family are extremely close to each other, celebrating holidays together and honoring everyone’s traditions. I love being a part of such a multi-dimensional family.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of being a youth coach?
This past winter, I coached a middle school girls basketball team through Stamford Youngtimers. At the first practice, both the players and I were nervous about how to interact and what the season would look like. I found it quite rewarding to watch them grow as players and people, and was able to see their confidence as players boosted. That flowed into their confidence as people. Our team actually went on to win the championship in our division.

What Stamford organization are you most passionate about?
Stamford Youngtimers is my favorite Stamford organization. The league does an amazing job of bringing together young girls from different socioeconomic backgrounds. The diversity makes for an incredible experience.

Favorite movie?
Cheaper by the Dozen, specifically the second one.

Current binge watch?
Gray’s Anatomy

What’s the biggest struggle you’ve had to overcome?
In November 2019, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. My world was shattered. My mom underwent 18 months of treatment including chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and a year of immunotherapy. It was challenging to be a young teen while dealing with a sick parent and then having the isolation of Covid-19. I am so grateful for my mother’s good health today.


8. TIMOTHY WONG

Fairfield College Preparatory School
CLASS OF 2023

Few teenagers want to be put into a box, which is why we are really impressed by Timothy Wong—a 2023 graduate of Fairfield College Preparatory School. His multi-hyphenate abilities serve as an inspiration to many. At Fairfield Prep, Timothy was active with the Prep Players—performing in many dramatic productions over the years—the Ethics Bowl team, Campus Ministry, Film and Media club, Debate club, Student Government and more. As co-director of the freshman retreat, Timothy’s keen sense of community-building shined as he welcomed newcomers to the school. Outside of his Prep family, Timothy is a faithful volunteer at New Covenant House, where he visits weekly to prepare and serve meals to the unhoused and underserved in his community. This fall, Timothy will be attending the Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. Building on Prep’s mission of “open to growth,” his teachers and peers are confident that Timothy’s versatility and free-spirited approach to life will serve him well as he enters a new and exciting chapter.

Photography by Andrea Carson

As an actor, what’s been your most challenging role?
Ernie Mac and others in Puffs. The role was technically 11 characters in one, and each one required a different clothing item (including stilts), a unique voice and mannerisms.

How did you get involved in Campus Ministry?
During freshman orientation we had this big activity fair. That’s when I signed up. At first, I thought it was just putting together school masses. However, I quickly realized that Campus Ministry was an excellent outreach opportunity. I had the chance to organize a support group through Campus Ministry, just to give students a safe space to talk about what they’re struggling with.

What Stamford organization are you most passionate about?
I have been lucky to work with a number of organizations, including the Ferguson Library Literacy Group, Stamford Little League and Curtain Call. But New Covenant is definitely the one I am the most passionate about. I have been volunteering there since I was 11 years old and seen firsthand the amazing impact it has. It is the only place in Stamford I currently know that is not only helping people in poverty, but also trying to help people out of their situations with initiatives like employment resources, the family loan program, immigration assistance and housing connections. The soup kitchen and food pantry provide meals to hundreds of people every day. And they make amazing garlic bread. Everyone I have met there is truly selfless.I encourage everyone to volunteer.

What’s your favorite movie?
For a long time it was Groundhog Day. Now, I would have to say Everything, Everywhere, All At Once. I love movies that express a sort of optimistic absurdism and this film does that very well.

If you could have dinner with one person who would it be?
Whenever I get asked this, a bunch of names run through my head: Albert Camus, Jack Kerouac, Amelia Earhart, Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, Rosalind Franklin; the list goes on. But I always go with Leonardo Da Vinci. I find his life and work so fascinating. If we had dinner, there would be more to talk about than a singular event, subject or topic. Plus, I could ask if the Mona Lisa is smiling.

Who’s your role model?
It’s difficult to name one. I’ve always tried to emulate the best traits of a number of people. I strive to be as kind as my mom, as determined as my dad, as dedicated as my brothers and as patient as my friends. I’m a big jigsaw puzzle composed of all the people in my life.


9. ELLA LEFERMAN

Academy of Information Technology & Engineering (AITE)
CLASS OF 2024

They say you dance to express, not impress. However, it’s hard to not be impressed by Ella Leferman’s dedication to her craft, and the way she uses her creative spirit to better her community. Ella, a senior at AITE, seamlessly juggles the academic load of an honors student with her work as a competitive dancer at the New Canaan Dance Academy. Apart from her professional dance training, Ella has “tapped” into theater as another outlet for her love of dance, frequently taking on the role of dance captain in shows for Stamford’s All School Musical, Curtain Call (where she also serves on the Summer Youth Theater Board) and Stamford High’s Strawberry Hill Players. She serves on various student leadership boards, such as Stamford Public School’s Counseling Advisory Council and the Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council at AITE. When her feet take a rest, her hands go to work. She won several nonfiction and poetry awards at the Ferguson Library and throughout the region. Next year, Ella wants to double major in dance and psychology, eventually hoping to earn her doctorate so she can be a therapist for teen dancers.

Photography contributed

As a competitive dancer, how do you handle the pressure?
There are really two kinds of pressure for me: the pressure to be a great dancer and a great student. In terms of dancing competitively, it’s really all about remembering that you’re not only a soloist, you’re part of a team. There’s always going to be that internal motivation to grow and improve as an individual, but the majority of time in dance goes toward working together with your teammates. As for balancing dance with school, it can be overwhelming to plan ahead to be sure I have time for everything I need to get done. I try to take things one step at a time and be patient with myself.

How has volunteer work brought you closer to your community?
I volunteer in two different places: Curtain Call and Filling in the Blanks. Theater is a huge passion of mine, so serving on Curtain Call’s Youth Board is an amazing opportunity. My favorite way to help out is by ushering. I often end up as the only teen usher and I love to hear stories from the adult ushers about their longtime history with Curtain Call. Filling in the Blanks fights childhood hunger by providing students in need with weekend meals. I help pack hundreds of these meals on Saturday mornings. When I see their delivery truck outside my schoo, I am glad to know that we are making an impact.

How has writing served as a creative outlet in your life?
I use writing as an emotional release. When my feelings start getting to be too much for me to keep in my head, I write them down. It’s cathartic and helps me acknowledge my emotions without letting them feel too big for me to handle. I write songs for the same reason; they’re largely inspired by my own thoughts and experiences as I work through them. I create songs with the hope that others might hear them and feel that they aren’t alone.

Current binge watch?
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I’d say my favorite show is Steven Universe. My current binge read (which I do far more often) is the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan.

If you could time travel, what place would you like to visit?
I would love to go to Ancient Greece. There’s so much I’d like to know about Greek mythology. I want to learn why the myths were created in the first place, and I want to see their original forms so I understand how they’ve changed over time.

Favorite musical artist?
Tie between four: Em Beihold, Lovejo, AJR and The Oh Hellos.


LOGGING OFF

Let’s face it: There are many misunderstandings between generations. And for some it’s too easy to label Gen Z as a social-media-frenzied, disillusioned bunch. To expel those myths, we went right to the source. We asked our teens what they want their parents and other adults to know about them.

“I wish other generations knew how passionate we are about the state of the world. It seems that so many adults just think of today’s teens as faces plastered to phones rather than people paying attention to the world around them. We really do care deeply about what happens in society, and we want to make a difference. Nobody should be brushing us off because of a lack of knowledge. We want to be taught how to make the world better so we can facilitate progress toward a healthier society.”
– Ella Leferman

“We are not hopeless. Yet with climate change, high inflation, a polarized political climate, mass gun violence, books being banned and widespread bigotry, it is very easy to feel hopeless. It would be easy for any generation to give up, but not us. Teens today are willing to fight for an actual future, not just settle for what has been left to us. Today’s teens are willing to stand up and make the best of what we’ve been given. I wish other generations would recognize that.” – Timothy Wong

“I wish other generations knew we have a new perspective on today’s world. We may not have as much experience as older generations, but we can offer fresh ideas and solutions, along with dedication. It’s not always easy to navigate a constantly changing world, but we are committed to making a difference.” – Felicity Goudie

“It’s important to recognize how much stress and pressure modern teens have to deal with. Some of that stress is not avoidable—and I don’t mean to say that stress is not a valuable experience to some degree. But I can see how the expectations of parents and other adults can place additional burdens on teens. Also, as a result of the rise of social media, teens’ mental health has continued to suffer. Sometimes other generations do not acknowledge the impact that this kind of strain can have on growing minds.” – Nicholas Butler

“Although there are major downsides to social media, for many teens it serves as an outlet and a way to connect with our friends near and far. It is important for other generations to understand this, especially after living through the pandemic, during which we depended on socially distant forms of maintaining community and friendship. Older generations need to understand that social media isn’t going anywhere, so that we can work together to make it less harmful for all.” – Atara Loewenberg

“We are the first generation to grow up in a fully digital world. We have never known a time without access to iPhones or Google. I think this will make us faster and more efficient at our work. But, by the time we’re out of college, we will also work in ways that could be uncomfortable and unfamiliar to older generations.” – Zachary Munno

“Teens today have more power than ever before. I’ll be the first to admit that it can be intimidating to want to create change in a world that seems saddled with so many different issues, but there has also been incredible progress, and so much of it has been driven by youth. The internet has allowed us to share information, ideas and opinions easily. Ultimately, we can share our voices and have more control over our own futures.” – Sofia Castaneda

“Teens today have tremendous demands to be engaged in a multitude of activities while also performing well in school. That creates pressure and unnecessary competition. Social media plays a tremendous role in magnifying this situation. My hope is that other generations would be empathetic and help teens find balance.” – Reese Johnson

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