Area teens had great summer vacations

Published9/11/2007 1:16 AM

While elementary students may be dreading that annual return-to-school essay -- "What I Did On My Summer Vacation…" -- four Bensenville and Wood Dale teens would be happy to share their stories.

Carolyn Arquette, 15, of Bensenville replied to an invitation in the mail and joined a group of young women selected for the Nationals' 2007 Junior Teen Chicago pageant. Those selected are eligible for prizes, including college scholarships.


Carolyn said her invitation encouraged her to participate in the contest, which focuses on conversational skills, confidence and personality rather than swimsuit competition.

A former self-proclaimed tomboy, Carolyn said she believes most girls go through a similar phase.

"At one time all girls like horses, are tomboys and want to be photographers," Carolyn said.

This summer she has enjoyed pageant training sessions that include how to conduct an interview with contest judges, as well as emphasis on posture and movement.

Carolyn said she likes the contest because modeling and acting have always been in the back of her mind, and it's different from her usual activities of running track and playing the trombone.

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"I've never really done anything related to modeling or pageantry. It's a really new experience, and I've met a couple of really nice girls," she said.

"I never thought I could do it. By participating in the contest, I have the chance to see if it's my thing."

For Lindsay Miller, 16, of Wood Dale, study abroad included time in Europe and Italy, with a four-week stay at the Eurosentres language academy in La Rochelle, France. She became interested in studying abroad after meeting foreign exchange students in Chicago.

"I've always wanted to see what it was like in another country. When you live in America, everyone is kind of like you. I wanted to see the way other people lived," Miller said.

Miller lived with a host family. After a day in school, she'd spend time speaking French with her hostess.

"I lived with a retired teacher. Whenever I was at home, I couldn't speak anything but French because she didn't speak any English."


In tight spots, Miller said, "we'd act out what we were trying to say."

For Miller, the best thing about the trip was learning about herself.

"I learned how to deal with people who aren't like me, and I learned how to stand up for myself."

The lessons came in handy when Miller met another student from Turkey.

"One of the students at school had really negative views about America. He trashed it. He said he hoped the United States experiences another terrorist attack because 9/11 happens everyday in Turkey.

"No matter how much I explained what I believed was right, I found out that some people are brought up in completely different ways. And I had to learn to get along with him. I kept my beliefs and dealt with the fact that other people don't necessarily believe the same things I do," she said.

The hot gym at Fenton High School is where Tricia Chiamas, 17, and Antonette Chiamas, 16, both of Bensenville, spent most of their summer.

"We're gym rats," Tricia said. "We started practice at 8:45 in the morning and finished around 11:30. It was hot, but we all love playing basketball so we didn't think about it. We just played."

On particularly humid and sticky days, she admits it's "kind of gross running around in a sweaty T-shirt. But when practice is over, it always feels great knowing that we worked that hard."

Her sister, Antonette, agreed that being sweaty "feels disgusting during practice, but you get over it. Going to practice is like hanging out with my friends. My summer was definitely not wasted."

Both girls will play on the Fenton girls varsity basketball team this fall.

Tricia predicts a good season for the Fenton Bison.

"Our team chemistry is at an all time high and our starters have been playing on varsity since freshman year. This is going to be our best season."

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