This year, the editors of Scholastic Classroom Magazines featured the real-life stories of some truly extraordinary kids who are overcoming obstacles, standing up for what they believe in, and making a difference in their communities.
We looked back at 2017 and rounded up ten of the most fearless/innovative/ambitious/creative kids that our editors met (although there were many more!). These kids are all different ages, from different states across the country, but they have one thing in common: they inspire us and everyone around them.
The classroom magazines that featured these standout kids include: DynaMath®, Junior Scholastic, Scholastic Action®, Scholastic News® Grade 1, Scholastic News® Grade 3, Scholastic News® Grades 5/6, Science World®, Storyworks® Jr., SuperScience®, and The New York Times Upfront.
The ‘10 coolest kids we met in 2017’ are:
The Innovators – Micaiah Brown & Josiah Brown, 10 & 13, Pennsylvania
Micaiah Brown and his brother Josiah were playing in their basement when they broke an old light-up toy and stumbled upon an exciting idea. The Pennsylvania siblings found a way to attach the toy’s light bulb to a battery and eventually invented their very own light-up sneakers for an affordable price. Micaiah shared, “You’re never too young to make something big.”
The Advocate – Marley Dias, 12, New Jersey
In 2015, Marley Dias launched #1000blackgirlbooks, her own initiative to spotlight the need for more diverse books in children’s publishing. Today, Marley has her sights set on collecting and donating 10,000 books and developing a program for teachers to help them share diverse stories with their students. “If you feel like something is wrong, you can create change by using your voice,” she said. “If you are passionate about something, anything can happen.” Keep an eye out: Marley's new book MARLEY DIAS GETS IT DONE (And So Can You!) exploring activism, social justice, volunteerism, equity and inclusion, and using social media for good, will be available January 30, 2018.
The Environmentalist – Levi Draheim, 10, Florida
Growing up in Satellite Beach, Levi Draheim watched as his neighborhood’s natural environment gradually changed due to climate change, with some beaches completely washing away. “I’m scared because my home might be gone someday,” he explained. Levi took action and is now one of 21 people who are working with lawyers to sue the United States government for allowing too much greenhouse gas pollution.
The Hopeful Leader – Genevieve Liu, 17, Illinois
After abruptly losing her father four years ago, Genevieve Liu was devastated, but eventually found comfort through friendship with a girl who had lost her mother. Genevieve realized that other teens across the country were experiencing similar situations and she took action, founding SLAP’D: Surviving Life After a Parent Dies, a website where kids and teens who have lost a parent can meet and support each other. She said, “Working on SLAP’D makes me feel like even though my dad’s not here, I can still live a great life.”
The Speed Racer – Gabriel Mora, 8, New York
Gabriel Mora’s joints do not fully bend, but this athlete won’t let anything hold him back! He is a competitive wheelchair racer and works with two coaches to learn techniques and build his high-speed skills. “I love to go fast. That’s why I love wheelchair racing,” he said. When he isn’t wheelchair racing, Gabriel also loves playing sled hockey and horseback riding.
The Engineer – Jordan Reeves, 11, Missouri
Most kids dream of having super powers and Jordan Reeves found a way to make her dreams a reality. Jordan was born without a fully formed left arm and wears a prosthetic arm. Last year, she teamed up with designers and engineers at KIDmob to design a new and improved prosthetic—an arm that could shoot glitter! Using 3-D printing and multiple design prototypes, Jordan finally designed a functioning glitter arm that she calls “Project Unicorn.”
The Astronaut – Taylor Richardson, 14, Florida
Taylor Richardson wants to be one of the first people to visit Mars, and she’s already well on her way to achieving her goal. She has a passion for all things STEM and even though she’s been diagnosed with ADHD, Taylor is determined to learn as much as she can and to help other girls of color discover a love of STEM. She founded the “Take Flight with a Book” program, which has already distributed 5,000+ STEM-themed books, and even established a scholarship to send a girl from a low-income family to Space Camp.
The Entrepreneur – Grayson Shaw, 16, Washington, DC
In his spare time during the summer, Grayson Shaw isn’t playing video games or soaking in the sun—he’s repairing iPhones as part of his own business based in Nantucket, Massachusetts. By researching and watching YouTube videos, Grayson taught himself how to fix iPhones and charges customers between $50 and $180 for repairs, taking in $24,000 in revenue last year alone! “I definitely want to be an entrepreneur,” he noted.
The Track Stars – Tai, Rainn & Brooke Sheppard, 12, 11 & 10, New York
Sisters Tai, Rainn, and Brooke each won medals for running at the 2016 Junior Olympics, but they faced many hardships along the way. A year before, their family was evicted from their New York apartment, which led to them living in a Brooklyn homeless shelter. The girls stayed positive and after receiving Junior Olympic medals, gained enough media attention to reach filmmaker Tyler Perry, who offered to pay the family’s rent on a new apartment for two years. Today, the Sheppard sisters live in a new house and are among the top young track-and-field athletes in the country.
The Adventure Seeker – Charlie Zucker, 12, New Jersey
Charlie Zucker was born with a unique condition that affects his hands and feet—he has two fingers on each hand and two toes on each foot. As he got older, Charlie understood that he was different but didn’t let that affect him or his confidence. He does everything from playing soccer to joining the baseball team and even wrote a 50-page-long comic book series. He’s currently writing his fifth comic book!