Teenagers are as big a mystery to some as that one sock you can never find. Where do they go? What do they think about? What is important to them? Do they ever stop looking at smartphones? Despite a general obsession with what is posted on Instagram or who Snapchatted whom, Mt. Lebanon teens have a lot of important things to say. We talked with students from each grade at the high school about school, things that interest or concern them and their view of the world.
EDWARD KUBIT, freshman
Eddie, Iroquois Drive, plays football and baseball as well as trombone. He hopes to continue playing sports in high school. Eddie is a regular volunteer at the Miracle League field in Upper St. Clair, a specially designed field where children and adults with special needs can play baseball safely.
Best advice from an adult: “My art teacher in eighth grade, Mr. Frommeyer at Jefferson, told me to keep my doors open for high school. He said, ‘You will want to explore your talents, and don’t close off any doors and keep your mind open when you go to high school because there is a lot of stuff to do there, and there is so much opportunity for great things later in life.’ He doesn’t want me to shut off something great for the future. That really helped.”
Role models: “There are always my parents. My dad has definitely been with me through everything. He comes with me to baseball games and [we] talk. We have conversations at levels that I wouldn’t have with anyone else.”
Best local restaurant: A ‘Pizza Badamo and Mineo’s.
Preferred social media: Snapchat and Instagram.
Issue your generation should address: “I think there are two on this matter. On TV, you will see a lot of commercials for ‘Truth Orange’ about ending smoking and teen smoking. The stats show that the number is really down, so I think our generation can take that on and completely wipe out smoking forever because it is obviously bad. It has [also] been in the news a lot about violence in the streets. It is not affecting Mt. Lebanon as much as other places but it doesn’t mean we can’t, as a bigger community with upper level academics, put a lot of smart people on these issues. Our generation can take on ending these fights in the streets.”
Favorite film: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby and White House Down.
Perfect Saturday: “First I’d get a baseball game in. After that, having some hotdogs for lunch—any summer food you can cook on the grill. Then maybe playing some wiffle ball or anything with friends. And then go swimming at night. That would wrap it up pretty well.”
Where you’d donate $100,000: “I would give it to the Miracle League because I am so involved there. I know there is a lot they can do with that. They can expand, buy new equipment for the players. I’ve been there a while, so it would only feel right to give to them.”
BELINDA WATSON, sophomore
Belinda, Arden Lane, is interested in history. She is a Rockette and performs with the marching band during football games and parades. She also hopes to become more involved in the high school’s theater program.
Best advice from an adult: “Don’t forget the bigger picture. You can be focusing on a bunch of tiny things, but you need to remember the grand scheme of things and how maybe this one little thing that you are getting super upset over isn’t going to affect anything. My Grandpa [told me that].”
Favorite class: “I really liked history of western cultures… I have always loved history and figuring out what got us to where we are. So we got to interact a lot in the class and respond, and we did a simulation.”
Best Local Restaurant: BRGR.
Issue your generation should address: “I think [awareness] in and of itself is really important. We focus on little things and we don’t talk about things that are really affecting us. Like we focus on what one celebrity wore that day and it is such a big deal when we should be focusing on trying to solve problems and trying to stop violence. We should be focusing on making people aware of the real problems in the world, not just first world problems.”
Favorite Film: Pride and Prejudice.
Perfect Saturday: “A nice morning breakfast, like biscuits and bacon and delicious food. And then just kind of relaxing all day, maybe reading or going to see a movie with friends. Of course eating. I love food.”
Where you’d donate $100,000? “Probably education. That is something that I think can really improve the world, if we are educated.”
WILL BUERGER, junior
Will, Vernon Drive, is involved in the percussion program. He also served as co-president of the sophomore class’s student council and participated in the spring musical.
Best Advice from an adult: “This is a little clichéd, but, ‘Live in the moment and don’t let life pass you by.’ Now I am in high school and it still feels like I started middle school yesterday… Once college is over, I will be an adult and have so many more responsibilities. So, as a kid I need to really enjoy what I have and the gifts I have been given. And living in Mt. Lebanon has been such a great opportunity that I really need to absorb every second of it and live in the moment.”
Role Models: “My biggest role model would probably be my sister. [My sister and I] have a very similar personality. We do a lot of the same things. She swims and I do percussion. She is only two years older, but I have really looked up to her in so many ways throughout my 16 years of life. And I have grown up with her always around and there to console me. I have watched her through middle school and she showed me how to adapt to that. And then going to high school, she has helped me so much. And now I am watching her go off to college, and it is going to be a lot different not having her, but I know she is still going to help me and give me advice when it’s needed.”
Best local restaurant: BRGR.
Issue your generation should address: “Equality. There are so many issues now, with the Black Lives Matter movement and the rise of feminism. And there is so much conflict between so many different groups that is slowly getting resolved… More than anything, we just need to cooperate because our country was built on freedom and equality and the pursuit of happiness, but the pursuit of happiness needs to be built upon the notion of equal opportunity…”
Favorite film: Harry Potter series.
Where you’d donate $100,00: “At my church, one of the parishioners started the Samuel J. Foundation after her son. I have a close connection to it and I have seen the different stories of what they have done in the community and outside the community to raise awareness.”
SYDNEY BROWN, senior
Sydney, Crystal Drive, is a co-editor-in-chief of The Devil’s Advocate, the vice president of choir and is involved in student council. She loves to travel, and is often at international camps and conventions for BBYO, a Jewish youth group. Next year, she hopes to attend college in a big city.
Best advice from an adult: “Probably to ‘Be confident in who you are.’ I tend to think of myself as a pretty unique individual, and sometimes that’s not always what’s cool and fun and hip. So, I have to believe in what I do and what I say. And everything I say has to be genuine, authentic and me. If I do that, other people will like me or I will find myself more and I will be more successful.”
Favorite Class: “Journalism. It’s the best…I feel like I have a voice there. If we are having a debate about something really pressing, my say matters, which I really like. I feel like I get to listen to what other people have to say too, and I become a better talker and listener and a better participant in discussion through journalism. And it has given me a lot of joy, confidence and a way to spend my time.”
Role Models: “My mom is pretty awesome; my whole family is really great. But that seems like such a generic answer. Diane Von Furstenberg, fashion designer, feminist, bad-ass bitch extraordinaire. She married a king, but didn’t let it define her, and she divorced him later. And then she married Barry Diller and they designed the Highline in New York. That’s cool. She is my celebrity role model.”
Preferred social media: Instagram.
Best local restaurant: Mad Mex.
Issue your generation should address: “Hunger and poverty. There is a lot of it, and since we live in Mt. Lebanon, we don’t see it or think about it. But it is present and a pressing issue for millions of families across the nation and world. And we don’t talk about it, and we should be talking about it more. There is a lot of hunger and poverty in the city of Pittsburgh so close to us… If we don’t deal with it, it could become really, really bad. Awareness, food banks, advocacy, volunteering in general, caring [and just] thinking about it are all really important.”
Favorite Movie: Dirty Dancing.
Where’s you’d donate $100,000: “Cancer research. My grandpa had cancer and died, and a family friend just got cancer everywhere. And they have three adorable kids, who are really, really young, and their mom is sick. And that sucks. And no one deserves to have their life ruined or hurt in some way by such a crappy disease, and if we do more research and test more cures it will be gone. I just want that to happen.”
FABIOLA SHIPLEY, Class of 2016
Fabi, Altadena Drive, was the co-class president of the Class of 2016. She played three varsity sports—volleyball, basketball and track and field—as well as being a Link Leader and serving as president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes club. She currently is attending the University of Notre Dame.
Best advice from an adult: “My dad tells me this a lot. In any situation with problem solving, he says, ‘the truth is always somewhere in the middle.’ So, it is never really one extreme or the other. That’s what he says to me when there is any sort of teen drama that I come to him with, and there are two feuding parties—that the reality of the situation and what needs to happen is always in the middle. It is never one of the extremes.”
Favorite class: “AP Government with Mr. DiNardo… If anyone has ever had him, they know that he does so much more than what’s in the textbook. Throughout the year he has instilled in us that you don’t just want to do well, you want to do good. In everything he teaches, he finds a way to incorporate the importance of human compassion.”
Role models: “My mom and my dad [and] Mr. DiNardo. I [also] read a lot about past presidents of the United States, so I think Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson are two of my favorite presidents and role models. Abraham Lincoln, definitely for his sense of morality and [the fact that] he never found fault in anybody else. That made him a really good president.”
Best local restaurant: A ‘Pizza Badamo and Totopo.
Preferred Social Media: Instagram.
Issue your generation should address: “There are a lot. I would say because of experience with friends, definitely LGBT rights. And, in light of all the current mass shootings, what just happened in Turkey, all of these horrible events that happen, it can make the world feel like a really scary place, and I think people tend to get cynical… There is never going to be world peace, but I think if our generation can focus on the value of diplomacy, it could help with the war on terror. It should be a goal and something that is within our reach.”
Favorite Film: It’s a Wonderful Life.
Where you’d donate $100,000: “Imani Christian Academy. It is a school in the East Hills of Pittsburgh. Kids who are in the public school system who aren’t happy and feel their needs aren’t being met can enroll at this school. And they do charge tuition, but it is like $20, just so people put a value on their education. They change these kids’ lives. Kids who never thought they would go to college are getting scholarships, and they provide kids with resources in a community where they feel safe and loved. Some of the money from the holiday show [went] there and the winter clothes drive, we donated some winter coats.”