KIDS 2 Watch 2009 Photography by David Michael Howarth

SJ Magazine Articles your South Jersey source
Page 1 of 4
Current Issue:
November 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
South Jersey Weather: Light Rain 49°F
...from issue on 6/2009
Have you ever taken
your child to receive
alternative healthcare?
That’s our only
form of healthcare
KIDS 2 Watch 2009
Photography by David Michael Howarth
Take a look at what SJ kids are up to – they’re inspiring and artistic, commendable and
cool. These kids are showing the world what great things they can do. Imagine what that
means for the future.
Tara Perrige, 16
“People say I’m smart,” says Tara
Perrige, a junior at Bishop Eustace
Preparatory School. That may be because
Tara carries a 4.0 grade point average
(5.0 unweighted, she notes), earned a
2170 on her SATs (out of a possible
2400) and has attended several courses
through the Johns Hopkins University
Center for Talented Youth (CTY).Her
brains and curiosity have taken her far
and given her vast opportunities.
What’s that?
“Last summer I went to China with LeadAmerica’s Ambassadors Abroad,” says Tara. She
was one of 39 U.S. students chosen to attend the national leadership program after being
nominated by someone who knows her well, although she has never been told who that
was. The two-week trip took students to Shanghai, Beijing and Xi’an, one of the world’s
oldest continuous civilizations. Tara also received two college credits for participating. “I
really loved visiting the Great Wall,” Tara says. “I felt like I had accomplished something
– being where people have walked for the past 1000 years.”
Intrigued by Chinese culture, Tara began a course to learn the Chinese language through
Johns Hopkins University CTY. “I’m interested in learning the language – both verbal and
written. I really want to learn the characters, too.”
Closer to home, Tara also com-pleted a service project in Camden, where she lived in a
community center for three days and volunteered at local sites, including a nursing home,
thrift store and packaging factory.“I learned a lot there. We have pre-conceived ideas
about people and places, but they’re not always true. I learned that while I was there.”
Tiel Hardwick, 15
It took two years of planning and projects, but Tiel Hardwick
recently received the second highest honor in the Girl Scouts –
the Silver Award. Tiel, a ninth grader at Shawnee High School,
completed her final project earlier this year, organizing a
“Thinking Day,” with crafts, songs, gamesand other activities
surrounding her theme: “We can all make a difference.” To fill
her audience, she spoke at troop-leader meetings, enticing the
leaders to bring their scouts. More than 100 girls attended.
“It took me two months to plan that one day,” she says. “I
didn’t want anyone to be bored, so I spent a lot of time
planning activities.”
Way back in sixth grade, Tiel earned the Girl Scouts’ Bronze
Award by building a butterfly garden at her grade school, researching what flowers
attract butterflies and then getting them donated by local businesses.
“I like to stay busy,” she says. And she does. Tiel bakes apple French toast casseroles to
give to her church’s Christian Caring Center and collects canned food and personal
hygiene items for a local food pantry. “I feel good inside when I help others.”
SJ Magazine Articles your South Jersey source
SJ Magazine Articles your South Jersey source
She’s now turning her attention to the Girl Scouts’ highest honor – the Gold Award. “I
want a project that will give kids something to do, to help them stay off drugs.”
No doubt she’ll have that Gold Award, and soon. “Sometimes I feel overwhelmed,” Tiel
says. “But I realize if I work hard, I get things done.”
Colby Bryszewski, 16
Like many SJ teens, Colby Bryszewski will spend his summer at a
park near his home. But unlike most teens, Colby will be dressed
in a Police Explorers’ Class A uniform, volunteering to patrol the
park and ensure the community’s safety.
Last summer, Colby clocked 800 hours volunteering as a police
explorer, charged with the very real job of securing Chestnut
Branch Park in Mantua. His commitment has earned him the
Police Explorers’ Advisor Award (the first time Colby’s post has
given that honor) and a promotion to captain – a first for
someone his age.
“I like to help out – it’s how I was raised,” says Colby, a junior at
Clearview Regional High School.
As a Police Explorer, Colby is able to ride with police officers at any time, something he
has done – and learned from. “I know how to talk calmly in an emergency situation,” he
says. “I may be the first person to arrive at the scene of an accident, and I know how to
handle that. I’m not going to freak out.”
This summer, Colby will attend summer camp at the Gloucester County Police Academy,
but that’s just a stepping stone to the real thing – which he will apply to after college. For
now, Colby is planning for a summer wine festival, which will bring 3,000 people to
Chestnut Branch Park. Before the event, Captain Colby Bryszewski will spend hours
creating work schedules for other Explorers and designating their patrol areas. Then he’ll
report for duty himself. Ready, and able.
Kenny Morgan, 17
Every day after school, Kenny Morgan heads to the Boys & Girls
Club in Camden where he volunteers with the little kids, helping
with homework, giving them snacks, or simply playing. It might
not be what you would expect from a high school senior getting
ready for college, but it’s what he loves. “I’m at the club every
day until about 9,” he says. “I adore working with children.”
Kenny was named this year’s Youth of the Year by the Boys &
Girls Club of Camden County, and he is quick to note that he is
the first male – ever – to receive this honor at the Camden club.
He’s been working with the organization for two years,
mentoring kids and volunteering to help wherever he was
needed, even playing bingo with seniors (and liking it). He was
tapped to represent the organization at special meetings with
potential donors and board members, and serves as vice president of the Keystone Club,
a teen group devoted to serving the community.
In the fall, he’s off to St. Augustine’s College in North Carolina, where he will major in
education. When he gets there, he says, he’ll search out the local Boys and Girls Club and
get involved. Says Kenny, “I want to help as much as I can.”
Chandler Lutz, 13
After spending last summer recording her first CD, Moorestown’s
Chandler Lutz debuted her original song “Believe in Dreams” at
Carnegie Hall last fall.
“I had been singing other artists’ songs, and I was ready to go to
the next level,” she says. Last year, Chandler met composer Tim
Janis. “I fell in love with his music and I was lucky enough to
work with him. We wrote my song together.”
This year, Chandler will join Janis in his Celebrate America tour,
performing her original song at concerts across the country. The
concerts will be aired on PBS. “I’m also planning to work with
Tim to write a whole CD of original songs,” Chandler says.
Chandler also signed with the famed Wilhelmina Models, appeared in Nickelodeon’s The
Naked Brothers Band and performed at Trump Casino in Atlantic City.
SJ Magazine Articles your South Jersey source
Page 2 of 4
SJ Magazine Articles your South Jersey source
But maybe her greatest work is through the Angel Ball Foundation, which she and her
parents started in 2002. The foundation has raised nearly a million dollars to grant wishes
to people battling a terminal illness.
“My parents always told me if you believe in your dreams, they’ll come true,” she says. “I
guess you could say that’s my motto.”
You’ll soon see three SJ stars on the silver screen, when the movie they just completed
filming is released this summer. Co-produced by James Brolin, Standing Ovation is a
Disney-esque movie shot entirely at the Shore, and many of its stars live right here in SJ.
Rocco Fiorentino, 12
At 12, Rocco
Fiorentino is an
accomplished jazz
singer and pianist,
bringing audiences to
their feet in clubs like
the famed Birdland in
New York City. He’s
also an effective
advocate for the blind,
serving as Ambassador
of The Little Rock
Foundation, an
organization started by
his parents. (Rocco
has been blind since
birth.) Last year,
Rocco appeared before the state legislature after Governor Corzine proposed slashing
services for the blind. His speech helped land $1.2 million in funding for Braille services
and education.
Rocco, a sixth-grader at Voorhees Middle School, has racked up plenty of honors: Build-ABear Workshop’s Huggable Hero Award, the Helen Keller Award of Independence, and the
Hands On Award from the National Braille Press.
But his passion, he will tell you, is music. He plays a record producer in Standing Ovation.
And he happily recalls meeting icons Tony Bennett and Stevie Wonder, who sang You are
the Sunshine of My Life while Rocco played the keyboard.
In the fall, look for him on Sesame Street teaching Elmo about blindness. And in the
future, look for his name in lights.
Pilar Martin, 11
Cast as a lead in Standing Ovation, Pilar Martinez says she can’t get enough of
performing. “I like to pretend,” she says. “I like acting like a different person. And I like
bringing out my emotions when I sing.”
Pilar does it all – acting, singing and dancing since she was 7. She’s performed at the
NOKIA Theatre in Times Square and locally at the Walnut Street Theatre and Bucks
County Playhouse. She’s also done commercials and special performances, like the
Guinness World Record television special on Food Network and an instructional juggling
video for Comcast Interactive TV. (Yes, she knows how to juggle.)
For Pilar, a sixth-grader at Moorestown Friends School, the movie role was her break into
motion pictures, and she hopes it’s just the beginning. “I loved everything about it. We
spent about a year filming, and in the end, we were all hugging each other and crying,
saying we were going to miss each other. We became like a family. I definitely want to go
on with my acting, singing and dancing.”
Dexter Darden, 17
He had his first break at age 8 when Paul Newman saw him in a talent show and told him
to get into show business. (Yes, the Paul Newman. Dexter was attending a camp
sponsored by the veteran actor.) It was good advice; Dexter has spent the past 9 years
training, auditioning and appearing in various shows. Look for him as Chester in
Minutemen, airing now on the Disney Channel. Off screen, Dexter has modeled for Louis
Vuitton and Salvatore Ferragamo, played harmonica with Paul McCartney and spent three
years performing for Carnival Cruise Lines. He’s had supporting roles in Law and Order,
The Sopranos and Third Watch, and appeared last year in Cadillac Records, starring
SJ Magazine Articles your South Jersey source
Page 3 of 4
SJ Magazine Articles your South Jersey source
Page 4 of 4
Dexter has an apartment in L.A. for when he is working there, and he commutes to New
York jobs from his home in Sicklerville. “I don’t know if I will ever move to L.A. or New
York,” he says. “I like Jersey. I grew up here. It’s my home.”
SJ Magazine Articles your South Jersey source