These Kids Today
Worried about the state of U.S. youth? Check out 10 young Monmouth and Ocean super-achievers—in science, swimming, rowing, cooking and charity.
If your teen is sprawled on the couch with a bag of Cheetos, don’t despair—and don’t compare! We all have our timetables; maybe his or her peak moment simply hasn’t arrived yet. So whatever you do, do not hold up as an example the stellar accomplishments of 10 fellow young Jerseyans:
- Cool in the pool. The swimming pool always heats up when Ava Aguanno’s in it. While representing the YMCA of Greater Monmouth swim team at the Jeffrey S. Mace Memorial Summer Sizzle at Rutgers University, the 14-year-old from Ocean broke the meet record in the 13–14 girls’ 50-meter backstroke with a time of 31.63 seconds. In the process, Ava made her first Long Course National Cut in the 100 backstroke, recording a time to qualify for the national team in her age group.
- Making her voice heard. Haven’t listened to the amazing vocals of Ocean Township Intermediate School’s Julia Machado? We strongly urge you to find her clips online by Googling “Julia Machado, winner of The Voice Kids Portugal.” Julia won the teen edition of the Portuguese talent show earlier this summer, earning a spot in the Junior Eurovision contest, which will be held this November in Nice, France.
- Telltale chips. Marlboro Memorial Middle School students Hayden Lam, Siddhi Omesh, Ishita Varia and Aditi Paschimiray hope their love for science can one day make a difference in medicine. Under the direction of coach Danielle Hardy, the four were named winners of the ExploraVision Regional Fair Competition sponsored by the tech company Toshiba. Their entry, Digital DOC (Detector of Conditions), is an injectable microchip featuring sensors, radio waves and an in-body GPS. When the chip is connected to a downloadable app, it can communicate information such as abnormalities in the body and possibly enable quicker diagnoses.
- Winner on the water. Red Bank Catholic junior Anna Ciardiello and her team at the Mercer Rowing Club finished 10th at the USRowing Youth National Regatta in Florida this summer. Anna’s squad, which was seeded 17th entering that event, now enters the 2023–24 season as a top-10 team. Anna began rowing in seventh grade and hopes to compete in the sport for a Division 1 college.
- They’re all smiles. They don’t swim or sing, but siblings Madeline and Tyler Lapman are making people smile in other ways. The Freehold Township High School students founded Project Smile at their school with the goal of providing toys for pediatric hospital patients through fundraisers and donation drives. Last year, Project Smile collected and donated 800 toys—worth more than $3,000— to K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital at Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center.
- Cooking up a storm. Some college students worked summer jobs while others took well-deserved vacations. Brookdale Community College’s Gabriela Ramirez Hernandez, a Long Branch resident and culinary arts student, spent a month training at Yomisha Yakitori restaurant in Sado, an island off the coast of Japan. Gabriela had been awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to help offset the cost of training. Before she departed, Gabriela said: “When I go to Japan, I am most looking forward to gaining new perspectives in my culinary field and in everyday life. This will be a life-changing experience for me, and I’m going into this head first!”