By Darian Jackson
Bowling Green High School, Bowling Green, Ky.
Adam Pennavaria is a one-man-band who enjoys all musical aspects of life.
Pennavaria, who attends Glasgow High School, said he plays the bassoon, trombone, bass guitar, and many percussion instruments. And he likes all genres of music.
For example, Bach and Beethoven introduced Pennavaria to music when he was 7 years old. Pennavaria said that he admired Beethoven’s musical variety and was amazed by the fact that a deaf person could write such dynamic music pieces.
Then, in the fifth grade Pennavaria switched from classical to the more contemporary style, or, from his eyes, the “70’s to the present” when his mom gave him the “Best of Van Halen“ CD one Christmas.
Pennavaria said that an uncle, Russ Pennavaria, is also one of the biggest reasons he plays music today. Russ, who persuaded Adam’s mom to buy the Van Halen CD, always brought some instrument to play at family gatherings, which attracted young Adam to the art of music.
Adam got his first guitar for his 14th birthday and he hasn’t dropped it since. He plays many genres, from jazz, to his favorite, metal. His dedication to music even led him to stop playing goalie for his high school soccer team to be in band.
Adam said his shoulder-length hair fits his look as a musician, but when he played soccer, it led to some teasing.
Adam said he didn’t understand why teammates called him “Penny” and “Addy” at the time, but today he thinks he knows why. “They’re jerks,” he said.
He said that when he was in elementary school he went through a stage where he would be by himself and not try to make any friends, but Adam’s band and soccer involvement helped him open up and find friends his freshman year of high school.
His other pastimes include reading adventure books like “The Lord Of The Rings” and “Harry Potter,” and taking long walks and “philosophizing about life.”
Adam said he has an “old soul,” meaning that he takes things laid back and he isn’t bothered by a lot of stuff that affects other teenagers, such as the latest brand in clothes and the newest shoes.
Adam said he decided to adventure into the field of journalism when he discovered “how creative and diverse the human population is.”
He said he aspires to be a broadcasting journalist for a small-town radio station or a recording engineer.
By Franey Miller
duPont Manual High School, Louisville, Ky.
“I sell myself in a non-prostitute way,” 15-year-old Charley Nold said. Instead of wanting to sell himself, Nold said he wants to sell products and services through advertising for local businesses.
“I don’t want to advertise big brands like Nike,” said Nold, who will be a junior at DuPont Manual High School in Louisville, Ky. “As an alternative I want to improve local advertising because usually it’s pretty tacky.”
Nold said he has a passion for independent businesses.
“I have a natural desire to help independent businesses and help them get off the ground,” he said.
Nold said he wants to be involved in advertising and public relations. In five years he wants to be “almost over the college hump” at Columbia College in Chicago or Western Kentucky University.
“As long as I get to learn,” Nold said. “I want to go to a college that teaches me, a college that I get something out of.”
As far as public relations goes, he said he loves dealing with people. Nold sees PR and advertising combined into one.
“I would much like to work with advertising car insurance,” Nold said. “It’s easy to sell and people are just stupid if they don’t buy it.”
Nold said that the people who influence him mean a lot to him. One of his greatest influences is his journalism teacher/yearbook adviser Liz Palmer.
“Palmer is a big influence on what I do. I always take my work to her to be critiqued, and it’s much better if your stuff is critiqued by someone you love.”
Nold also said that without Palmer, he wouldn’t even be into designing yearbook pages. “She introduced me to a whole new world” he said.
Nold said his additional great influence his best friend Wesley, whom he’s known since fourth grade.
“I’m open. I don’t like to hide things from people when I meet them. Wesley’s my best friend, so I tell him everything. He’s definitely up there.”
Other influences in Nold’s life include his parents and grandfather.
“My dad is a writer and my mom was a comp-lit major in college, so I definitely have better writing skills because of them,” Nold said. “But my real family influence is my grandfather. I do what I do to impress my grandfather. I mean, I love what I do, but I also try to impress him as much as I can.”
Nold said that when he is having a bad day, he turns on the television and watches his Kentucky YMCA Leadership Training Conference DVD.
“When I watch it, it makes me laugh. It definitely brightens up my day.”
By Kelsey Randhawa
Dunbar High School, Lexington, Ky.
Darian “Dee” Jackson likes things to be just so. In fact, each hanger in his closet has a one-inch gap between the next one, and sometimes he will sleep under the bed when he can’t bear to mess up his pristine room.
This upfront, unguarded Bowling Green High School junior admits to having his quirks.
“I have the kind of personality where you either hate me or love me,” Jackson said.
He has lived in Bowling Green all his life and has become incorporated into the close-knit community, especially through his job mowing lawns and his participation at the 11th Street Missionary Baptist Church.
“I’m very involved with my church,” said Jackson, “I’m an usher there, and I act in church plays.”
Unlike most kids, Jackson has had more than 30 “siblings.” His parents, Veronica and Morris Jackson, serve as foster parents for other children, who are in and out of the home.
This has given him the opportunity to connect with others from various backgrounds and ages, and even after siblings leave, he stays in touch.
This 6-foot-1, wirey 15-year-old said his motto is to wear his heart on his sleeve, and he certainly is not afraid of other’s opinions.
With the enthusiasm of a puppy, Jackson practically shakes with excitement when he gushes about the talents of the young singer Justin Bieber, ignoring the chorus of snickers that sometimes follow.
“I basically like any artist with good vocals,” said Jackson, who has difficulty thinking of any music that he dislikes.
The teen’s special love for Bieber though, arises from Bieber’s record label connection to Usher, another idol of his. He also likes Bieber because of his genuine singing talent and personality.
That’s important to Jackson, who said, “I don’t like fake people.”
While attending Bowling Green Junior High School, Jackson had issues with students who were unwelcoming after he switched from Moss Middle School. In order to compensate, Jackson was disruptive but he said he’s remedying his actions and reigning in some of his antics.
Jackson has certainly retained his eccentricities outside school. A source of frequent laughter and smooth clubbing moves, he often makes others laugh. However, his forgetfulness occasionally makes him the subject of laughter.
“There are so many times when he’s forgotten things,” said Xposure student Simone Palmieri from Gallatin (Tenn.) High School. “He almost walked out without his shoes when we went bowling.”
While he admits to having a silly side, he also hides a serious side.
One of his favorite sports is golf because it allows him to reflect.
“It helps me think about things; it’s like therapy to me,” said Jackson, who also said that he feels a need for some solitary time occasionally.
Jackson spends most of his time at the golf course, but when he isn’t golfing, he enjoys taking photos.
With no real reason, he decided to begin photography and has since become a self-taught photographer. His primary focus became nature photography after he became enamored with photographing flowers. His has even been asked by his English teacher to create a flower calendar for her.
When he sees someone struggling with a camera, Jackson eagerly jumps in to help guide the person through how to work it.
His enthusiasm also spreads to creative writing. This interest has spurred him to consider pursuing photojournalism in the future, so he can combine his favorite pursuits. However, his said that his dream career is working as a lawyer.
Regardless of the career he pursues, he is determined to see it through.
“Knowing that there will always be a new day and everyday’s a new start keeps me going” Jackson said.
By Simone Palmieri
Gallatin High School, Castlian Springs, Tenn.
Victoria Ballengee’s personality is quickly evident.
“Yeah, I’m a gamer, just to let you know,” she said during introductions on the first day of the Xposure journalism workshop.
Ballengee can be witty and sarcastic, but it’s all in good fun. “Honestly, it’s hard to describe the sense of humor that I have,” she said.
Victoria, or “Vicky” as she prefers, has lived in Radcliff all her life.
“I can’t leave a place that has so many memories,” said Ballengee, a 14-year-old sophomore at North Hardin High School. “All the accomplishments I made are here.”
She said she is particularly proud of being the first freshman to command her high school’s drill team and lead them to win at a competition in Grant County. Smiling, Ballengee said she carries that accomplishment with her as motivation during challenges in her life.
Her high school journalism teacher recommended Ballengee to the Xposure workshop because she is skilled at writing persuasive articles and fiction pieces. Among Ballengee’s favorite writers is Stephanie Meyer, author of the “Twilight” saga. She said the author has influenced her to follow through with her fiction writing.
“The way she portrays the feelings of her characters inspires me to write more in depth and taught me how to focus,” she said.
Along with writing, she said she enjoys gaming, debating, anything to do with her cell phone, yearbook and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program.
She said she incorporates her success as a drill team commander into the Xposure program by using it to remind herself that she can do anything she sets her mind to.
Ballengee said she sees herself as ambitious, and she strives to reach her ultimate goal of becoming a clinical psychologist by finishing high school and taking as many college classes in communication, sociology and psychology as she can.
“Knowing how the world is, I would love to help people,” she said.
Ballengee described her own personality as optimistic and perseverant.
“I just love uplifting spirits,” she said.
She said she cracks jokes during a tense or dreary atmosphere in an effort to lift the mood. “I like to make the best out of everything,” she said.
Ballengee said she would encourage all people to pursue their dreams and reach their full potential.
One of Ballengee’s greatest passions is her family.
“I owe them so much,” she said. “They’ve been through so much, and I do what I can to help them.”
Ballengee said her mother, Edna Ballengee, works the night shift at UPS, but that can be tiring for her mom, so she helps out at home with the cooking and cleaning while also focusing on studies.
Ballengee’s siblings, 25-year-old Sam Lipscomb, 21-year-old Chris Lipscomb, and 19-year-old Lisa Ballengee also inspire her to do her best. Lisa and Chris are currently still in school and Sam is in the Air Force. Ballengee said she looks up to Chris because he shows a lot of determination by working full time and attending the University of Kentucky.
Meanwhile, Ballengee said she wants her legacy to be that she was successful in life and she accomplished all of her goals.
“I don’t know how I want to be known, but all I know is that I want to look back and see that I helped society to grow into a happy place.”
By Victoria R. Ballengee
North Hardin High School, Radcliffe, Ky.
Kelsey Randhawa loves writing almost anything, reading almost everything and traveling almost everywhere.
Randhawa, 17, is a senior at Dunbar High School in Lexington. She runs track and cross-country for her school, and is involved in her school newspaper.
Her love for writing and her ambition has led her far into journalism. She has no specific job for her school’s newspaper but said she enjoys writing feature stories the most.
“It’s really neat to see different perspectives on what people say,” Randhawa said.
Randhawa said she had a feature story win first place in a state competition before she actually went into journalism.
Not only does she have a passion for writing, Randhawa has considerable interest in science. She is currently working on a research project under the direction of Dr. Sharon Walsh, the director of the Center of Drug and Alcohol Research at the University of Kentucky. Randhawa’s school uses block scheduling which allows her to have a longer lunch period, and she usually spends her lunch period at the research facility in the Robert Straus Building at UK.
Randhawa is working on a project that examines the behavioral effects after users consume different amounts of OxyContin, or oxycodone when snorted or shot in a vein.
“I really try to balance my interests,” Randhawa said. “I’m really focused in the different arts and sciences.”
Randhawa said she is also an avid reader. Some of her favorite authors are J.K. Rowling, James Patterson, Dave Barry, or anyone who writes fantasy stories. She said reading “Lord of the Rings” helped her vocabulary, so she read book after book.
“I think reading definitely helps with your writing. All good writers are readers,” Randhawa said.
Randhawa said she loves traveling internationally. She’s gone to places like France, Spain, India and England. She said it helped her to be more diverse, which helped her improve her writing and communication skills.
“It gave me an interesting topic to talk about when I had to write a memoir, like seeing the poverty in front of me that tore me,” Randhawa said.
Randhawa, who will graduate in May 2011, has visited or plans to visit a handful of liberal arts colleges – the University of Chicago, Northwestern, Harvard, Boston College, Stanford and Washington University in St. Louis.
She said it gives her a broad viewpoint on different subjects, and she doesn’t want to stay in one major for the long run. If anyone were to ask her what she’s majoring in, major she’s in, she would answer, “Undecided.”
The reason she chooses to not stick to one major is because she wants to juggle a few majors like law, journalism and psychology. Randhawa said she wants to try out all of them and see what evolves from there.
“I don’t want to get too locked up on one thing and end up hating on my job later.”
By Micah E. McClain
duPont Manual High School, Louisville, Ky.
At first glance, John Stepp may seem like a stereotypical, football-playing African-American male, but there’s more to him than meets the eye.
Stepp, a senior defensive tackle at duPont Manual high school in Louisville, uses his knowledge and wit to make something of himself on and off the field.
The 17-year-old is one of the few African-American students enrolled in a program at Manual that’s designed to prepare students for such fields as engineering and science.
“When people ask me what major I’m in, they’re shocked because I’m a black male in the Math, Science & Technology Program,” he said.
Stepp said people don’t usually expect him to succeed because he’s a minority, but he does well in his classes and has a 2.7 grade-point average.
“I like feeling like I did something important,” he said. “Maybe not even by someone else’s standards but by mine and how I see success.”
His interests include writing poetry and spending time with his father, Keith Stepp, who recently helped him get ready for the junior prom.
“It’s good to have someone to bounce ideas off of — someone who knows you,” John Stepp said.
Starting with a tie, the father and son duo built a unique fashion ensemble for the junior prom.
“We agreed that I should wear a suit no one would wear instead of looking like a giant Popsicle in a bright, colorful tuxedo.”
Although he wanted to stand out at that event, John Stepp is usually more low-key. He spends a lot of time listening to music on his iPod and contemplating his future and various life issues.
“I have different mindsets, almost like multiple personalities, because I’m always over thinking things,” said Stepp, who hopes to major in engineering, business or journalism in college.