2019 Teens to Watch
October 1, 2019 | by rebecca stewart | photos by jana graham photography
In parenting, the teen years are often anticipated with some level of trepidation. We envision the end of our knowledge being deemed useful; rolling eyes, slamming doors, silent treatments. A hundredfold increase in worrying. Maybe there is some of all of that (and more), but like every stage along the way, there are moments of pure magic (probably far more than we could have imagined). If nothing else, we hope the opportunity to meet this handful of spectacular youth within these pages each year helps us all recognize the beauty to be found in these teen years.
With that, we’re pleased to present this year’s Teens to Watch.
- Who is your hero, and why?
- What has been one of your most challenging moments? (How did you find your way through?)
- The words I’d like to live by are…
- What dream are you currently dreaming for your future?
- What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Responses have been edited for length and clarity
Peyton Carle | Senior, Skyview High School
- Choosing one hero is like choosing your favorite memory, you just can't choose one! My heroes are my mom and dad. The reason why I choose my parents is that they have taught me the most about life and how to be a good person. They have taught me how to respond to adverse situations in life instead of retreat. My mom had cancer twice and went through it and battled it like a champion. My dad was there every step of the way taking care of things at home with my older brother and me; we were young kids at the time. Through this, I saw what it's like to be there for your family and to be a stand-up man like my dad was for my mom. I saw what it is like to never give up and to stay the course in life no matter how hard. My mom has been cancer-free ever since. The reason for being nominated for this is because of my parents’ teachings.
- One of my most challenging moments in life was when I sustained a knee injury and had surgery. I got through this by having a great support system from my family and friends. I never gave up, and I worked until I got back into playing condition.
- The words I like to live my life by are “Strive to get on top in life because it’s the bottom that is overcrowded.” Les Brown.
- I am dreaming of earning an engineering degree from Montana State University. I want to make a lot of money and have a nice place of my own with a family of my own.
- People would be surprised to know that I am an avid outdoorsman and when I am not in sports or other activities, I am usually in the hills or mountains hunting or fishing.
Elijah Traywick | Junior, Billings West High School
- One of my heroes is my eighth-grade science teacher, Mr. Kenney. What I appreciated most about him was how nonjudgmental he was and his hospitality towards me in a time when middle school had really gotten to me. Every day after school, I would wait in his room for about half an hour, and we would chat about anything from physics to Bigfoot. He was active in lots of extracurricular activities. He had (and still does have) a middle school engineering club that builds a plane every year. He was also instrumental in the Upward Bound program that tours colleges over the summer with interested students. I guarantee that it was Mr. Kenney's constant investment into kids that made him so easy to connect with. I didn't have many friends or people to talk to at school, but Mr. Kenney used his after-school time to make all the difference.
- One of my most challenging experiences was in third grade. I had many health issues growing up related to my stomach and my joints, but that year was the hardest. I underwent a scary hospital stay that lasted almost 20 days. I could hardly keep any food down or walk without pain. It made it very difficult to return to school after I was released from the hospital. Thankfully, my mom found a school that was flexible and willing to teach me based on what I knew and didn't know yet. Mary Beth Gregory, the principal of Grace Montessori Academy, and Stephany Roberts, my teacher, were ready to accept the challenges that came with my situation. Their teaching style boosted my education through that difficult time and gave me a more stress-free environment during my medical challenges and dietary restrictions.
- In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald in his classic novel, The Great Gatsby, “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
- When I imagine my future, I have always dreamed that my occupation would be related to science. Now, though, my thoughts on the matter have largely shifted. Since visiting the deaf school in the Philippines (IDEA) this summer, I have seriously thought about applying as a teacher there. Maybe even a science teacher. I could improve on my sign language skills and live on Bohol (the island where the school is located). It’s a job that incorporates so many things I love like teaching, sign language, working with kids, and the Filipino culture.
- Something that people would be surprised to know about me is that from an early age, I developed a way to be creative and clear my head. Almost every day I would go outside and either walk or ride my bike or scooter and design storylines in my head, complete with illustrations, that I would sit down and draw later. It's a time when I just get to be alone with myself and let the creativity flow. It's become a nice way to relieve any anxiety and escape to a different headspace.
Jelyn Davis | Junior, Billings Senior High School
- Definitely my dad because no matter what he always focuses on the good, but never ignores the bad, which impacts people in a positive way. He has also been my biggest supporter, biggest influencer, and when it's time to correct me, he does it in a stern but gentle way.
- Probably struggling to figure out what, exactly, I would like to do when I get out of high school. I’m still finding my way through it. Life is all about moving forward; whether a little or a lot, progress is progress.
- “You win some, you lose some”
- Going to college to do something in the medical field because I enjoy medical science. I want to be well off, travel, and start a family when I’m ready.
- I’m a second-degree black belt, and I plan to continue to grow in knowledge and skill in that area.
Peter Thompson | Junior, International Virtual Learning Academy online high school based in Nevada
With Olympic dreams in the making, being physically gifted is certainly a plus, but it’s got to go beyond the physical, it’s also about the work you put in. Whether it’s an early morning practice, late in the evening, or somewhere in between, Peter Thompson is in his element in the water. He is praised for being both a great competitor and teammate.
- My personal hero is Caeleb Dressel. He is a professional swimmer and has overcome several major bumps in his career. His first year swimming professionally, he did not have a great year, and the entire swim community was worried about his future in the sport. He retained his sponsorships and was able to come back this year and has had an amazing season so far. He will be competing in seven swims at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska next Summer and has a very good chance at making the team in all of them. The way he is able to balance his athletic career and still do the things he loves has always inspired me.
- I have been lucky enough to be raised by two loving parents and surrounded by support from family, friends, and outstanding coaches for my entire life and swimming career. I have not had a big challenge or major low point as of yet. I do always try and be mindful however, that something of that nature almost always happens to athletes and just people in general. I like to think that when this does come, I will have the ability to come out the other side stronger because of it. I also hope that it does not prevent me from swimming at the level I hope to achieve.
- "I’m ready to take on any challenge that would be foolish enough to face me” - Dwight Schrute, The Office.
- At least one more Olympic Trials cut, to swim at a competitive NCAA Division 1 college, and in the long term, the 2024 Paris Olympic Team.
- I have a tattoo and am an avid fisherman.