I am pleased to welcome Jenna Israel, who comes highly recommended by her friend and former guest, Eliana Franklin. Jenna loves to read, and as you’ll see, she definitely has a scientific side.
LP: Welcome to the conversation today, Jenna. Tell us a little about you and your family.
JI: I live with my mom and dad, my sister Sophia (8th grade), and my hamsters, Lewis & Clark because they love to explore! We are thinking about getting a rabbit soon. I was born in Atlanta, Georgia and lived there until I was 6. My family loves to travel together; one of our favorite trips was a road trip through Massachusetts. We visited Plymouth Rock, went on a whale watch, and were fortunate enough to see the Boston Pops 4th of July concert.
LP: Tell us about your school life.
JI: I am in the tenth grade at South Mecklenburg High School. I love science because it has context in everything I do. This year I took chemistry and it was one of the most fascinating classes I have taken so far. I love math as well, for it is crucial to science, and together they explain much of what goes on in the world.
LP: You have been involved in Odyssey of the Mind. Tell us a little about what this is, how you came to be involved, and what you have gained from it.
JI: Odyssey of the mind is a competition in which teams of seven or fewer people design and perform creative performances to solve a series of complex problems and requirements. I was on my first team in the third grade, and have been on a team four years since then. Even though I have never placed higher than third place and have never made it past the regional competition, I still love OM! It is such an amazing experience to come up with solutions to problems that are not graded on accuracy, but on creativity. Through OM I have gained valuable skills such as public speaking, using a saw, script writing, and interpersonal skills, just to name a few. Though Odyssey of the mind is a huge time commitment, the feeling of being a part of a team is worth every minute.
Jenna (Bert the Chimney Sweep) in Mary Poppins
LP: And I understand you are also involved in building a greenhouse at school. Tell us about this experience.
JI: In the 9th grade I became part of a program at South Meck called the IDEA Academy, which stands for innovation, design, engineering and art. Our yearlong project was to use these core disciplines to rehabilitate the school’s old greenhouse. I was a part of the after-school project management team that helped build and paint the frame, dig a ditch, and install plastic covering. Soon we will plant the vegetables that the school will use to promote healthy eating. While the project is part of my studies, only a small part of the student body is able to be involved and I feel very privileged to be a part of this amazing project! I was featured in the South Charlotte portion of the newspaper last year for my participation in this project.
Jenna in the middle, holding money from JE Dunn Construction for the greenhouse project
LP: I know you are also a member of the Spanish Honor Society where you tutor ESL students. Do you have time in between for reading, and if so, what do you like to read?
JI: I read a wide variety and I try to pick books that are different, that are not trying to copy the Hunger Games format to get teenagers interested. I am a Harry Potter fan but I read other fantasies as well. I have enjoyed the Virals series by Kathy Reichs. This year I read Catcher in the Rye for my English class and I still find myself puzzling over it. I recently read a Walter Dean Myers book called Darius and Twig and enjoyed how it painted a picture of life very different yet very similar to my own. There is so much more to gain from life when you are not always contemplating a dystopian future, though I do indulge in the ridiculous situations and delusional romance from time to time. It helps me keep in touch with high school.
LP: What is the most important lesson you have learned in life so far?
JI: It is important to trust the process. Though many things seem trivial and unnecessary along the way, it is important that you do them. It is the journey and not the destination that make you who you are
LP: It looks like you are well on your way to an abundant life in whatever path you choose, Jenna. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us today, and I wish you every success!
Congratulations to Sheri Levy, who won a copy of Prissy on the Moon from last week’s blog!