Top Teens of 2015
Junior at Windham High School
Tara amazes people around her by her willingness not to give up. When a trip to Costa Rica came up last fall, the $3,000 price tag didn’t sway her. She sought scholarships and because of her scholarship letter, her teacher raised the rest of the money by asking the local business community.
One trip in high school wasn’t enough though. This past spring she decided to go on a bike trip to Quebec.
“Thoughts of the impossible were proved wrong by Tara’s determination and persistence! Tara again proved me wrong this spring. Again, she talked about a community serviced-based biking trip up the coast of Maine. It would end up in Quebec. Again, an almost $3,000 trip, she went ahead and wrote an essay again to apply for another scholarship. Many teens coming from a disadvantaged home just settle for what they have, but not Tara!”
“An outstanding person is someone who is considerate of all of their surroundings, including both people and the Earth. A person can't be outstanding without first respecting all of the outstanding things around them,” said Tara.
Challenges to being a teen: “There are many challenges a teenager has to face throughout high school, many revolving around making your own decisions rather than following crowds. Finding your place in the world is tough but also one of the most thrilling parts to becoming a young adult.”
Tara wants to continue exploring the world and taking outdoor adventure trips such as biking and hiking. “These things have helped me to grow as a person in the past, and I can't wait to continue this is in the future.” Not being able to travel seems like a hardship to Tara. She loves Maine and it has been a great place to grow up, but she is eager to explore the world. “Maine will always be my home base.”
“She is making dreams come true for herself despite economic hardships. She simply does not take no as an answer.”
Age 15 Windham High School
Genevieve has been a competitive, champion gymnast since the age of four. When she turned 14 she had to make the tough decision to stop gymnastics due to injuries. This past year, Genevieve, a freshman, made the varsity cheerleading squad, all the while keeping her grades up as an honor student at Windham High School.
“Beyond taking a full load of honors classes, being on the Spanish Honor Society, and cheering, she has followed her passion of working with children. She coaches aspiring gymnasts at Maine Academy of Gymnastics. She is in Teen Trendsetters and is teaching a precocious first grader to read. Her ongoing love is working with children with special needs and has donated weeks of her time at summer camps as a one-on-one counselor so that the kids can attend. She also volunteers with Root for Me, an open gym program that supports recreation and socialization for kids and families with special needs.”
Being called outstanding is only a label. According to Genevieve, “Someone that is outstanding has a constant drive and motivation to get better at what they are doing and to open up more and more opportunities. Someone who has the correct balance between selflessness and considering their own needs. A person who takes every opportunity even if it isn't handed to them.
An outstanding person is humble.”
Being a teen is: “It is a challenge to stay on the right path and not fall into the traps that society is setting. Society’s standards are to be perfect. Perfect hair, clothes, relationship, grades, weekends. Everything must meet a standard. However, we are all made different and that is a good thing that we should embrace. We all have our goals and there shouldn't just be one bar for us all to meet. Being a teen is quite the task because it is the time of your life where you are given the reigns. It is your responsibility and that can become overwhelming.”
Genevieve thinks Maine has a lot to offer, but she wants to see the world to experience a different atmosphere. “[Mainers] are very independent, which is not beneficial to people who need support.” After high school, she would like to attend George Washington University and major in public health or nutrition.
“For me it is not just a list of successes and activities that makes Genevieve an amazing young woman, it is her heart, her faith, and her dedicated perseverance to look beyond her current struggles and find joy in giving joy to others.”
“There are so many opportunities out there that I feel like I am missing out on. So much going on that I wish I was a part of,” Genevieve said.
Darren Emerson, Jr.
Age 14 - Windham High School
Darren Emerson was nominated for his kindness and good morals. Sometimes the things that make a teen standout are the things he does for others and the way he treats them.
“He is a very deserving young man. Family means a great deal to him. He’s always willing to help without question. He is very respectful to elders. Not extravagant with his money; more than willing to work to add to his savings.
In Darren’s mind an outstanding person must have an impact on others. “Friends are important to have and to offer help to them whenever they need it. Touch as many lives as you can because someday they will return the favor.
He does all his homework without being told. He does this regularly, considering the fact that he has high honors classes and does well on all grades. He’s smart with computer projects.”
Darren is a sophomore at Windham High School. He has taken on new challenges this past year and wants to continue to improve in his endeavors.
“For the past year I have opened myself to a new opportunity. Riding horses. It is the greatest challenge I have taken. In one year I have come further than expected. I owe it all to my trainer Nikki Karlsson for teaching me great horsemanship and learning true friendship. It has given me something to strive for. I would not be where I am today without Nikki.”
Teen challenges: A big challenge of being a teen in 2015 is technology straining yourself from life. I am grateful for the world to have these advancements, but it takes the attention of people our age away from opportunities that can forever change our lives. Each morning will bring a new opportunity, wake up and take it.”
Darren wants to have a future in Maine and would like to graduate from Windham High School and then get his Bachelor’s degree in law enforcement. “I hope to achieve great accomplishments that will be recognized by many,” he said.
“My future consists of living life with a new challenge and opportunity every day. I want to continue to touch as many lives as I can. I am striving to become a law enforcement officer to make a bigger impact on those around me. I want to help those that can't be helped.”
Age 19 - WHS class of 2014
Lexis Elston is on her way to fulfilling her dream of being a fashion model, but to take that step she had to put herself out in front of an audience. She graduated from Windham High School in 2014 and is enrolled at UCLA.
“Lexis has entered the world of fashion modeling. She has already modeled for Guess Jeans in Los Angeles as well as working with local designer Ashley Lauren. Lexis is signed with some agencies and breaking into the highly competitive field of modeling.”
Lexis talks about what makes someone outstanding. “For me, it's all about the qualities in an individual that make them special. Everyone is different and outstanding in their own way. It is important to remember to always be kind to others as you may not know their struggle. Overall, an outstanding person is someone who commits to honesty, loyalty and integrity with everything they do.”
Being a teen today has many challenges. “As a young teen in today's society, I must say it's not always easy to stay confident in the success of your future. So many aspects of life have shifted into something they were not before, the main focus being social media. These days you can text instead of walking to a door, email instead of sending letters, and Instagram instead of telling stories. It makes it tougher on young teens to make the social connections that are vital as part of growing up. It is important to draw the line between ‘Internet life’ and the reality of it. Join clubs, participate in charities, or try out for a local sports team. Authentic connections and true friends will push you to make your goals come true.”
Although Lexis is in California right now, her roots are in Maine and she still has hopes for her home state. “As a Maine native, I am confident our education system will continue to expand its branches and discover all the different paths of learning. I hope our teachers and professors get rewarded and acknowledged for all the hard work they put in to make a brighter future for the next generation.”
Windham High School class of 2015
Noah just graduated from Windham High School and will attend Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in the fall, majoring in secondary education with a focus on history.
“Noah is a pillar of his community already at such a young age. An honor roll student, an athlete, a volunteer, a worker, Noah was accepted at numerous colleges for his outstanding credentials and received many grants and scholarships for all his hard work to date.”
Noah’s thoughts on being an outstanding person: “I believe that someone is outstanding when they are doing everything in their power, to become the best that they can be, whether that be a great athlete, musician, scholar, community member, or a combination of these abilities. When I think of outstanding individuals, I think of someone who is compassionate, unselfish, and who has, humility, integrity and respect for themselves, as well as others,” he said.
Challenges of being a teen: “I believe that the two biggest challenges to being a teen in 2015 would have to be high expectations, and multi-tasking. Growing up, I always had high expectations of myself to do well in everything I do, whether it is academically, athletically or musically. I always wanted to be the best student, the best athlete, and the best musician wherever I went. I shortly realized that I couldn’t be the best in everything, or realistically in one thing, so I had to change my perception. I changed it to being the best student, athlete and musician that I could personally become.”
“The other challenge would be multi-tasking. I was always involved in various activities growing up, and throughout high school. Finding a balance, and dealing with all of the stress that comes at this age is the hardest part of being a teen in 2015.”
“Throughout high school, I was a member of the Windham Chamber Singers. It helped me develop my confidence, and gave me wonderful new experiences and adventures. Another involvement that I had throughout high school was coaching at Jordan Small Middle School in Raymond with Jim Beers. I have been able to help kids overcome not only obstacles in basketball and baseball, but in the classroom, and socially. I have had the honor and privilege to work with such amazing kids from the town of Raymond…”
Noah would like to continue to work with kids, but is concerned about finding a teaching job in Maine after graduation. If he can find one, he will be a Mainer for the long haul.
“Noah is going to be a leader as an adult.”
“My goal for my future is to be able to not only teach my future students about how important history is, and why we must learn from it, but I want to make a difference in every student’s life. I want to help shape the future generations of this planet in a positive and supportive nature. I want to be the teacher that kids can say made a true impact on their lives, and helped guide them to a successful future.”
2015 Graduate of Windham High School
Emily Gagne is a versatile member of the Windham community. From staring in the fall musical her senior year to being her class secretary, she has made the most of her school years.
“Emily has worked extremely hard over the past several years and had fun along the way.
Emily has been a top performer in the classroom while enjoying as many after school activities that time would allow.”
As President of the Windham Chamber Singers, member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, team member on Science Olympiad, class secretary , Four years of enjoying the Windham drama program, lacrosse team, four years of fun on the WHS Swim team, she still found time to volunteer at Maine Medical Center last summer.”
For Emily an outstanding person has “strong leadership abilities. They face some challenges with a positive attitude and tackle anything that goes their way.”
She looks up to both of her parents. “They face adversity with poise and elegance. They are very much role models in my life,” she said.
One of the challenges of being a teen is “communication. Everything is electronic. We look to the Internet and phones to do our communication for us. This generation lacks face to face that people need in the world.”
Emily plans to stay in Maine with a full scholarship to the University of Maine at Orono.
“Her academics and extracurricular activities have earned her eight Presidential Scholarships from colleges all over the country.”
“I want to make sure that I always keep the ties with my home. It’s a great place to live,” she said. However, she also wants to explore, see the world and study abroad, but then will come back to where it all started in Raymond.
The activity that influenced her the most over her four years of high school was the WHS swim team. “Just because it’s the only sport that doesn’t cut anyone. I swam on the team with kids with autism and Downs Syndrome. No one gets cut. It has an all-inclusive feel. Everyone is welcome on the swim team. It inspires me to act that way in my life.”
“Emily is always willing to help anyone. She was always willing to help coach the young kids of the Poland Track Club when she had time.”
After college, where she is starting as a biology and journalism double major, with a minor in theater, she hopes to be a science journalist and do medical research. She’d like to work with Doctors without Borders to “keep the lines of communication open between science and the general public.”
Age 18 - WHS class of 2015
As a 2015 graduate of Windham High School, Maura Gallagher is the epitome of well rounded. She has been involved in everything from volunteer groups to theater, sports to volunteer work.
When asked what makes someone outstanding, she responded: “Their personality and desire to be the best they can be.”
“Maura is a very well round young lady who not only is a hardworking and dedicated student in Windham High School, but also should be recognized for her help in her community as well.”
Teen challenges in 2015 in Maura’s words: “The idea that society has of how teens should be and the reality of how teens actually are. There seems to be an expectation that a teen should know what they want to do in their future. Not everyone knows what they want to do and that creates a lot of pressure.”
Maura has been in many theater productions, most of them backstage where she ran the show. Theater has had the most influence in her life to this point. She has been the makeup designer for shows, stage manager for American Family Holiday concerts, lighting designer on One Act plays, and has been the assistant producer on many performances.
She has also been in honor societies and on varsity sports teams, including the SMAA all academic field hockey team. She also was on the indoor and outdoor track teams.
Her concerns about being in Maine after graduating from college is finding a job with adequate pay for the degree she obtains.
“Not only is she committed to her school, but to her community as well.” She was a volunteer at Riding to the Top Therapeutic Riding Center, at the Windham Public Library, at various fundraisers and assisted coaching youth field hockey. She is a member of her church youth group. She has been 200 hours working with kids at Little Dolphin Daycare and has spent 400 hours at Bright Horizon’s Day Care. She volunteered at Maine Medical Center for the junior volunteer program and with the kindergarten Jump Start Program in Windham.
Maura’s goal in the future is “To be able to make a difference in people’s lives.”
“As you can see, Maura Gallagher is a very unique individual with wonderful attributes. I can see, and hope you can too, all of the potential she has, to continue to make a difference in this world.”
Age 13 - Windham Middle School
Arlene Goff is going into the eighth grade at Windham Middle School. She is involved in field hockey, dance and snowboarding. She practices three times a week for three hours at field hockey. It’s that dedication and determination that makes her a standout teen.
“Arlene is a sweet girl that cares a lot for her family.”
An outstanding person to Arlene is: “If they are a good person. If they are nice. Always trying their best and are a nice person to everybody.”
“She is a straight A student.” With that comes some pressure, she said. “It’s hard trying to manage everything. Making sure to spend enough time in everything you do.”
Arlene would like to see other places. “I like Maine a lot for easy access to lakes, forests and places. I’d like to see somewhere with beaches and palm trees,” she said.
In the future, Arlene would like to be a specialized teacher. Maybe art or swim or teach little kids in preschool, she said.
“I always love to do my best. At the end of the day it’s about fun and laughing. Not taking everything too serious, but get good grades,” she said.
9th grade at Windham Christian Academy
“Rose is a creative and passionate young lady who uses her gifts to be a blessing to others. In the past she has made handmade greeting cards. She then sold the cards, and the proceeds went to purchase a stove for an orphanage in Uganda, Africa. It was the first stove in the history of the orphanage; replacing charcoal fires as their primary means of cooking.”
To Rose being an outstanding person means “being courageous and not backing down, and doing what God told them to do without question.”
She believes that many times teens get a bad reputation based on the actions of a few. “It’s hard showing that not all are a stereotypical teen that some of us are more than that,” she said.
“Rose is an officer in her class's juggling troupe that perform at hospitals, nursing homes and churches throughout southern Maine. (She can lower herself into a full split while juggling three machetes!)For two weeks last summer she was part of Joshua Generation, a dance and drama team that did street performances throughout the Bronx and other inner city venues.”
Dance has influenced her the most, especially since she’s been doing it since the age of three. “It’s given me courage to not stay in the background, but to do my best and stand out.” Ballet is her favorite type of dance, she said.
Rose is an honor roll student at Windham Christian Academy. She hasn’t decided where her life will take her, but she said she will probably not come back to Maine after college. “It’s not where I want to be the rest of my life. I want to do overseas mission work in India. I feel like that’s where God is calling me.”
12th grade - Windham High School
Analyse Harris is an all-around teen. From sports to clubs, honor societies to volunteering, she spends her time wisely and has a plan for her future.
“Analyse is a bright, caring person. She works hard at home, school and in her community. She is involved in sports (V Lacrosse, V Cheering) and clubs (Leo Club, National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Teen Trendsetters, Outdoor Club and Varsity Club). She also volunteers at Maine Medical Center as part of their summer Junior Volunteer Program and plans to go into the nursing field upon graduation.”
“There are many things that can make someone outstanding, one of these being leadership. A person with leadership skills can handle tough situations, be the voice of a group or cause, and serve as a role model for others. Another characteristic of an outstanding person is their role in the community as a volunteer. Outstanding people are service oriented, thinking of others before themselves and always doing their best to help in whatever way they can. An outstanding person also works hard to excel in the classroom. Someone who does their best and puts a lot of effort into their work will always exceed,” Analyse said.
Teen challenges: “Being a teen in 2015 can be challenging. It can be very difficult to balance friends, family, work and school. Time is one of the biggest pressures as a teen. Finding time to devote to individual aspects of one’s life is stressful and can cause anxiety in teens. Another challenge of being a teen in today’s society is social pressure. It can be very difficult to stay true to yourself and what you believe in when you are surrounded by peer pressure situations.”
Analyse is concerned about her future because of a situation that most college students find themselves in. “One of the biggest concerns that I have of my future in Maine is paying off my college debt once I graduate. Paying off debt can be very challenging and stressful for a young adult. Although I come from a middle-class family, I fear the challenge of paying off my college debts while also maintaining a steady income to support myself.”
“Analyse is always the first person to lend a hand when her family and friends need it and is always there with a smile.”
She aspires to be a registered nurse. “I have always had an interest in nursing since I was young. I believe it is a fitting occupation for me as I enjoy helping others and have an interest in human anatomy.”
Age 18 - 2015 graduate of Windham High School
“Aiyanna is a true modern-day Renaissance woman! She's a gifted dancer, excels in the classroom (is ranked number five of the WHS Class of 2015), volunteers countless hours in the community and in her school, and is always looking for ways to improve herself and the lives of others.”
Outstanding people to Aiyanna is someone who can recognize there’s more going on in the world that what’s in your home. “Being able to recognize life isn’t about pleasing yourself all the time. Everyone is fighting their own battle. Be compassionate.”
This fall Aiyanna will attend Stetson University in Florida. She plans to travel and become an immigration lawyer. The opportunities for her are limited in Maine. “I’m hesitant to come to Maine to do that.” She speaks fluent Spanish and wants to help the Latin American community.
“She's also well traveled and speaks multiple languages. Name a club, Aiyanna's in it. Need a volunteer? Aiyanna will be there. Need a trustworthy student to help with a project? Aiyanna will help! Her altruistic nature is also exhibited by the fact that she wants to devote her life to helping those in need by becoming an immigration lawyer.”
The struggles with been a teen this day in age is the “pressure. Whether that’s peer pressure to cheat on tests, parental pressure to be the perfect student or media pressure, a lot of girls put a lot of pressure on you to look a certain way. Everyone goes through some kind of pressure. May teens rebel. Other people in their lives pretend to be something they’re not.”
Aiyanna was impacted by her participation in Interact Club, for which she was an officer for two years.
“Being able to organize community events and encourage our group and volunteer groups helped me to solidify my desire to help others. I’ve never felt better than when I’m doing volunteer activities.”
At Stetson University, Aiyanna was accepted into a volunteer program where they will place her with a non-profit organization that fits what she wants to do in the future and provides opportunities that she wants. “I was able to stand out and be accepted to that program.” She’s very excited to get started.
Age 18 - 2015 graduate of Windham High School.
“Eri Martin is a man of integrity, who stands up for what he believes in. He’s a hard worker and has earned many accolades including the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.”
A recent graduate from Windham High School, Eri plans to attend Unity College to major in conservation law enforcement so he can better serve his community.
When asked about what makes someone outstanding, he said, “I believe someone who is truly outstanding goes out every day to put happiness into the lives of others. A simple smile can change someone’s day and that is truly outstanding. I also believe that it’s about service to the community and giving of yourself to others.”
This summer, Eri has developed new programing in his job as an area director at Camp Hinds. He has taken on the task of teaching other Scouts about wilderness survival and other outdoor activities.
Challenges to being a teen: “I believe a lot of teens are cut off from finding out who they really are because they are inside watching TV and playing video games. I think it’s more important for teens to go out into the real world and experience real life. I feel technology also cuts teens off from each other and makes it harder for them to learn how to communicate taking away basic social skills.”
Boy Scouts has overall made the biggest impact in Eri’s life. “Working at Camp Hinds in Raymond, Maine has taught me skills in leadership, management, outdoors and overall life. On top of that, achieving my Eagle Scout is something that will help me out throughout my whole life. Scouts has helped me find who I am today and helped me become a better member of the community and put others in front of myself.”
Eri plans to stay in Maine. It is his home and the place he would like to serve in the future as a game warden. “I know as long as I have a community all problems can be solved. I also know in my future I will never stop Scouting because I cannot think of a better, more supportive and rewarding community than that I have found in Scouting.”
Elizabeth “Libby” McBride
Age 15 - Windham High School
Reason for Nomination: High Honor Roll, WCS, All Play's, Church choir
“Libby McBride is a great student landing on the high honor roll, is in Windham Chamber Singers, sings in her church choir and acts in many local plays. Her success in all of these activities makes her a top teen.”
“There are many different ways for someone to be outstanding. These ways include being active in your community, working hard in school, trying your best at every activity you pursue, being a good friend, and sharing your talents. You cannot only live for yourself, you must have a purpose and that should be to make a difference in others' lives. I believe that working hard to live up to these standards is what makes a person outstanding.”
Libby has grown up in Windham and will be a sophomore at Windham High School this fall.
“There is no other town than Windham that I would want to call my hometown. However, I am concerned about continuing my future in this state. Maine is currently the oldest and whitest state in the country. I am afraid that as the state continues to age, business will drop and it will be hard to get a job. Also, with the lack of diversity I feel that I am missing out on all that different people have to offer. I believe that Maine needs to find a way to welcome more young people and those from diverse backgrounds. It is a great state and I think a greater variety of people should be exposed to all of its potential.”
The challenges to being a teen in 2015: “My generation is constantly under pressure from all areas of our lives. Although I am only 15, I am working really hard to prepare for college, maintain high grades, keep up with my social life, dedicate myself to extracurricular activities, complete all my homework, and somehow fit eight hours of sleep in every night. People my age are constantly busy whether it is with school, sports or friends. The biggest challenge is having to manage all that we have on our plate, while still trying to grow up and enjoy our teenage years.”
In the future, Libby isn’t sure what she wants to do, but she will go to college and is interested in pursuing psychology, possibly in either a corporate or university setting. “This summer I studied psychology at the Center for Talented Youth through Johns Hopkins at Lafayette College. Not only was I captivated by the material, but it opened my eyes to the vast amount of opportunities in the field.”
Age 16 - Windham Christian Academy
Lucy Williamson “is a girl who is always willing to give of herself.” Whether it’s at Smiling Hill Farm taking care of animals or on one of the Christian mission trips she takes each year to Guatemala, she helps those who need it most.
“While [in Guatemala] she ministers to and plays with children, helps with church activities and is basically a ray of hope for these underprivileged children.”
The Windham Christian Academy high-schooler thinks that being outstanding happens by “What one does as a person and how they impact their community and friends.”
A challenge that she faces as a teen is that “people think we’re all reckless troublemakers and that can be kind of difficult.”
The mission trips she takes have made the most impact on her life thus far. She is happy that when they go the people are so happy to see them. “When we go there to help others, we get help in return,” she said. “We get blessed in return.” They serve the missionaries meals and provide them places to stay. “They go out of their way to make sure we are comfortable.”