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Over the years, we’ve highlighted SJ kids with amazing hobbies, cool jobs and big dreams in our annual Kids To Watch feature. We tracked down some of the young superstars, because while many of them aren’t exactly kids anymore, they’re all still worth watching.

 

 

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Anthony Ragone, 19

JUNE 2013
Blackwood native Anthony Ragone appeared in SJ Magazine in 2013, after he’d launched a magazine of his own. At 12, he started “TeenClique,” a publication about music and fashion geared toward adolescents. Last year, Ragone sold teenclique.com and the print edition of the magazine.

“I was approached about selling the rights to the magazine, and at first I was skeptical because it was such a huge part of my life,” he says. “But at the same time I think the timing was perfect because I was beginning to feel a little restricted by it. It was for and about teens, and I was really growing up. It was nice to be able to close that chapter and move on to a new one.”

Ragone’s new chapter opened at the University of San Francisco, where he’s a design major with a 4.0 grade-point average. While academics are a big part of his current focus, he’s still wearing many different hats.

“I have a new blog where I’m writing stuff that’s more geared toward adult readers,” Ragone says. “I also have a line of perfumes and colognes that have sold really well in online boutiques. I’m in the process of publishing a second children’s book, and I’ve gotten into investing. I figured I needed to do something that’s going to sustain me.

“This summer I’ll be traveling, and then hopefully spending a semester in New York City interning,” he says. “It’s definitely a lot, and I don’t get a ton of sleep, but it’s really rewarding to be focused on so many great things.”

 

 

 

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Chad Cooper, 25

JUNE 2007
When we featured Chad Cooper as a Kid To Watch in 2007, he was making movies for his high school media classes.

Today, Cooper is living in New York City, and most days are spent behind the camera.

For a long time, he says, his dream was to make films in Los Angeles, and a few years ago he packed up and gave it a shot.

“I wanted to live the LA lifestyle, making huge films, so I moved out there,” he says. “I made a big show for Fox, and that was awe-some, but I started to feel like maybe movies weren’t what I wanted to make after all.”

Realizing he wanted another change, Cooper moved to New York, where he currently films commercials.

“I love what I’m doing,” he says. “It’s so much more fun than anything else I’ve ever done. I get to work with different people every single day, and every day it’s something new – a new brand, a new product or event. I have a blast meeting so many people and learning how they work and their styles.”

In 2014, Cooper was hired by the Haitian Ministry of Tourism to produce a series of videos encouraging people to vacation in Haiti. He says it was one of the best experiences he’s ever had.

“It was hot. Oh man, it was so hot – but I had so much fun,” he says. “When you get on a plane with all your equipment and you’re shooting somewhere like that, you look around and just think, ‘Wow, this is exactly what I’ve always wanted to do with my life.’”

 

 

 

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Joshua Davidson, 22

JUNE 2011
In 2011, Joshua Davidson was a senior at Washington Township High School with a straight-A average, preparing to head off to Stockton College.

He was also the founder and CEO of Chop Dawg Studios, a web design and development business.

Davidson’s time at Stockton was short-lived – just a few semesters – but Chop Dawg has grown into a major player in the world of technology and development.

“I did well in college academically, but by that time Chop Dawg was growing and making enough revenue that school was really just keeping me from pursuing bigger opportunities. With the momentum we had, it was better to focus on what we were doing.”

Davidson now oversees 14 employees, all of whom telecommute from various locations around the country. The company has shifted gears from website design to entrepreneurial app development – a niche market Davidson says has exploded in recent years.

“When we started it was just me and a couple of guys doing website design. Now we’re building huge, complete products, working with entrepreneurs who have great ideas but don’t have the technical ability we do,” Davidson says. “We build everything from the product to the brand. We help them market and build a media presence.”

Davidson says his team is constantly learning new skills, which increases Chop Dawg’s value. The company is poised to make more in the first quarter of 2015 than in all of 2014.

“We’re really good at what we do, and when we screw up, we’re good at solving that problem,” Davidson says. “We want to be the brand that inspires people, the place they go when they have a great idea. We want to be responsible for the next great product.”

 

 

 

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Lindsey Michelle Williams, 19

JUNE 2013
In 2013, Voorhees native Lindsey Michelle Williams was uploading makeup tutorials to YouTube, modeling American Eagle’s spring collection and heading to Rutgers University as a cosmetic chemistry/creative marketing major.

Now, two years later, she says, “Everything has very much changed.”

While she still loves the visual arts, the college sophomore has shifted her academic focus to a double major in neuroscience and psychology.

“I am on track to get a PhD in neuroscience. For me, science has always been a passion,” she says. “I want to research how special-needs kids learn, specifically those with low-functioning ADHD and high-functioning autism.”

While Williams is no longer filming makeup tutorials, she hasn’t completely vanished from the public eye.

“I’m still on YouTube, but in a very different way,” she says. “Rutgers has a poetry slam team that competes nationally, and we recently had a video of one of our poems go viral.”

Called “The Rape Poem to End All Rape Poems,” the slam poetry piece was created to raise awareness and stop on-campus sexual assaults. Since the poem’s debut, Williams says, the poetry team has been invited to perform across the country.

“Poetry and performance poetry has become a huge part of my life, but my first priority now is academics,” Williams says. “I still have followers on Facebook and Instagram from when I was doing makeup, and a lot of them look up to me.

“Sometimes they message me to ask where I went. I try to answer all of them and tell them why I changed my focus, and how I’m really feeling. I still want to be an encouraging and uplifting person – it’s just not going to be in the beauty industry anymore.”

 

 

 

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Max Levin, 17

JUNE 2013
When we interviewed Max Levin in 2013, he was on his way to becoming a superstar in the world of finance. Now a senior at Eastern High School, he is still investing – both in well-chosen stocks and in the futures of other young investors.

When Levin launched his website, stockpick101.com, two years ago, he quickly became known as “The Stockpick Whiz Kid” and was invited to write a regular column on TV moneyman Jim Cramer’s mainstreet.com.

“Since then, I’ve been on Fox, NBC and other national news stations,” Levin says. “Schools started asking me to come in and speak to their students, and when I did I would get tons of really basic questions about how a checking account works. I realized these kids weren’t being taught the basics of finance due to their schools’ lack of resources.”

To fill that educational gap, Levin launched The Financial Literacy Foundation. The organization’s mission is to teach basic financial literacy on the topics of savings, checking, budgeting and investing. Levin, along with a group of volunteers, hosts events and talks for students, community organizations and groups for children and young adults with special needs.

Though Levin has begun applying to colleges, he’s not sure what his academic future will hold.

He’s interned on Wall Street for the last three years and hopes to end up in New York City.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to be on Wall Street,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to be that bigwig guy in New York. I’d rather be working on a business plan than going to high school. I always have other things on my mind, like trademarks and patents, and it can be tough to concentrate in school. But I still have a 4.0.”

 

 

 

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Marion Tanzosh, 17

JUNE 2011
We first met Marion Tanzosh in 2011, shortly after she had won first place in her weight class at the USA Wrestling State Championship. Then in eighth grade, she was looking forward to wrestling in high school.

Now a senior at Lenape High School, Tanzosh is again anxious to continue her career at a new school – this time on a college wrestling team. Her skills have only improved over the last four years, and she hopes to keep raking in the victories.

“I won girls’ states three times, and this year I placed third,” she says. “I also placed fourth at nationals this year. I’ve wrestled on the boys’ high school varsity team for the last two years, and last year I was the winningest female in the state.”

Last year, Tanzosh branched out from wrestling and began competing in jiu jitsu tournaments. “I’ve been working my way up from beginner classes to more difficult ones,” she says. “It’s a fun way to stay in shape and to keep competing even when I’m not wrestling.”

Tanzosh says that being the only girl on her high school wrestling team has been difficult at times, but her teammates have always been supportive. She hopes that once she graduates, her legacy will live on through other female wrestlers.

“This team was very accepting when I started,” Tanzosh says. “I’m the only girl who has ever wrestled varsity in the whole Lenape school district, but I don’t think I’ll be the last one. There are a lot of girls who wrestle in middle school, and they stop once they get to high school. I hope now they’ll look at me and think, ‘Well, if she kept doing it, so can I.’ I hope I can be an inspiration.”

 

 

 

 

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Rocco Fiorentino, 18

JUNE 2009
The last time we talked to Rocco Fiorentino, in 2012, he was just a freshman at Eastern High School, but he had already won the Prudential Spirit of Community Award and the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Award, appeared on “Sesame Street,” and attended a summer program at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Now, just three years later, the visually-impaired young pianist, composer and singer is following his dream as a full-time student at Berklee. He graduated from Eastern a year early, skipping his senior year and accepting a four-year scholarship to the prestigious music school. But Fiorentino didn’t move to Boston alone. Glamour, his guide dog, came along.

“I’ve wanted a guide dog since I was a little kid,” he says. “In the United States, you can’t have one until you’re 16, because the person who has the dog has to be entirely responsible for him or her. Glamour has helped me so much getting around the city and the college, and when we travel she accompanies me everywhere I go.”

Fiorentino is thriving at Berklee, surrounded by his fellow musicians. While he hasn’t yet declared a major, he plans to study music production and engineering.

“I still want to perform, and I probably want to teach as well at some point, but I think production and engineering is where I really want to go,” Fiorentino says. “I’m figuring out how to mold all of those interests together into a career.”

Fiorentino has a long history of helping others, from his conversation about blindness with Elmo to the work he’s done to promote awareness for the visually impaired. He sees a future in music production as an extension of his dedication to service.

“I want to do what I love, but more than that, I want to help others do what they love and make whatever they’re doing better,” he says. “That’s what producing is all about. You take a raw song or something else someone is doing and say, ‘OK, what can we do with this?’ It’s a very rewarding process.”

March 2015
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