19 Under 19: The South Bay’s top teens and kids

These 19 young South Bay women and men aren’t wasting any time making an impact.

  • Category
  • Edited by
    Darren Elms
  • Photographed by
    Monica Orozco
  • Illustrated by
    Christine Georgiades

What can a person achieve before graduating high school, or even middle or elementary school? Quite a lot, it turns out. And these 19 young South Bay women and men aren’t wasting any time making an impact. They’re creating, crafting and challenging life as it comes. Here we celebrate their unique gifts, early achievements and potential to enrich our world.

Kai Kushner

10, Grand View Elementary

Greatest Hits
Won his first three surfing contests for 12 and under

What’s Next?
Become a professional surfer and filmmaker like his dad

Person I’d Like to Meet
“I’d like to meet and surf with John John Florence.”

Place I’d Like to Visit
“The Maldives … because I have
heard about the amazing waves and crystal-clear warm water with the most beautiful fish and reef in the world. And sadly, because of global warming, the islands will be gone in my lifetime.”

Madison Westergaard

18, Palos Verdes Peninsula High School

Greatest Hits
➳ Interned at Boeing in the Computer Aided Design Lab
➳ National Merit finalist
➳ Perfect score on ACT

What’s Next?
Become the chief engineer at Google and make advancements in the technology industry

My Inspiration
“Anyone brave enough to start their own company and attempt to change the world is inspiring for me. The people that persevere through negativity and doubt are the people that change the world.”

Secret to Success
“Persevering until a solution is found.”

Jeremy Johnson

18, Palos Verdes High School

Greatest Hits
➳ Two-time CIF qualifier in track
➳ Advocate for those with visual impairment, like himself
➳ Started his own speed and agility training business

What’s Next?
Compete in track and field state championships in the 800m and eventually run a physical therapy company

Word That Best Describes Me
“Relentless. In the pursuit of my goals and when I face obstacles, I don’t quit. I figure out a way to overcome them.”

Pay it forward
“I would like to lead by example and help people with disabilities realize that they do not need to let the disability limit their potential or what they can achieve in life.”

J.P. Reilly

18, Loyola High School

Greatest Hits
➳ Helping his school win a CIF Division 1 volleyball championship
➳ Role model for other kids diagnosed with type 1 diabetes

What’s Next?
Stanford, pursuing engineering and science; member of the university’s men’s volleyball team

Giving Back
“I realize that as a kid growing up in LA, I’ve been gifted with more opportunities than most. So I’d like to help open up opportunities for kids around the world to succeed, because in the end the combined impacts they all will have on the world will surpass my own.”

Biggest Hope
“That people continue to innovate and push the boundaries to make the impossible possible.”

Brendan Craig

17, Vistamar School

Greatest Hits
➳ Starting his own business at age 13 called Find My Food Truck
➳ Creating his school’s sports broadcasting network called Vista Sports Network during freshman year

What’s Next?
A career in lighting design and technical directing

Biggest Hope
“For my generation to work together as adults rather than spend all our time disagreeing solely because we are all different.”

Recipe for Success
“Don’t just let up at the first roadblock when trying to reach goals, no matter how big and impossible they are. The struggles that are faced throughout life are just points of motivation to find another way to succeed.”

Quinn Stoneman

17, Palos Verdes High School

Greatest Hits
➳ Captain of varsity water polo team
➳ Daily Breeze Player of the Year
➳ YMCA lifeguard

What’s Next?
Play college water polo, keep working with kids and travel

My Inspiration
“My high school coach Pat O’Brien pushes and inspires me to be better every day. Coach Pat battled cancer while coaching us. He made us all stronger.”

Pay It Forward
“I would like to make a difference with pollution in our oceans.”

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Jackson Fujimori

13, First Lutheran School

Greatest Hits
➳ Only male finalist on season one of Kids Baking Championship on the Food Network
➳ Made 30+ dozen cupcakes for No Kid Hungry charity and raised $9,500

What’s Next?
Travel and find career success

Making An Impact
“I would like to educate people. I think a lot of times people make rational decisions without thinking. I would like to teach others how to ponder over big decisions and make the right ones.”

Fictional Character I identify with
“Remy from the movie Ratatouille, because he is small, enjoys high-quality food and is a really good chef who likes to experiment with different ingredients.”

Kenna Horgan

15, Mira Costa High School

Greatest Hits
➳ Full scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet Summer Intensive
➳ Offered full-time placement with Joffrey Ballet Company but turned down to complete school

What’s Next?
Continue dancing and attend an Ivy League school

Activity that changed my life
“Model United Nations really opened my eyes about the world and inspired my incredible aspirations for the future. I am so lucky to be able to experience dance every day.”

Pay IT Forward
“It would be a dream to be able to help write international policy that further protects and enhances the lives of women and children.”

Maria Pacifico

16, Chadwick School

Greatest Hits
➳ Runs Latino Cultural Club
➳ Working with school to build wheelchair ramps
➳ Varsity rider on Chadwick Equestrian Team

What’s Next?
Continue riding and work in intersectional, feminist activism through a career in law

Person I’d like to meet
“Sonia Sotomayor. She’s definitely pioneered a path for women and Latina girls. She’s a truly iconic figure to look up to, and I would love to meet her. There is so much I could learn from her.”

Event that changed my life
“At the Student Diversity Leadership Conference I got to meet so many intelligent, talented and determined young people that share the same passions as I do. I learned so much about myself I wasn’t aware of. I realized that I was so much more than I ever knew I was.”

Luisa Delgado

16, Vistamar School

Greatest Hits
➳ Starting every game at the Under 17 World Cup in Jordan
➳ Member of Hope Club and Feminist Club
➳ Building houses in Tijuana for low-income families

What’s Next?
Attend Stanford, play professional soccer and go to medical school for neuroscience

Pay IT Forward
“I’d like to help women in developing countries get access to health care.”

Event that changed my life
“The 2017 Women’s March in Los Angeles definitely made me feel so much more empowered and that I have a voice.”

Quentin Ho

12, Parras Middle School

Greatest Hits
➳ Winning the national parkour and freerunning competition in Las Vegas
➳ Landing a triple back on the trampoline

What’s Next?
Become a stuntman, then an architect and get married

Something Only Close Friends Know
“I almost died once while I was flipping.”

Big Dream
“To do Quint-In (flip): that’s four rotations (back flips) with a full twist on the first one, all in a single bounce. I have never heard of anyone doing a Quint-In, which is why I want to do it.”

Ben Jorgensen

13, Ridgecrest Intermediate School

Greatest Hits
➳ Chosen for 2016–2017 Scholastic News Kids Press Corps
➳ Zonals Tennis Tournament in Arizona
➳ Rappelling down a 30-foot waterfall

What’s Next?
Become a journalist and travel the world

Recipe for Success
“I’m observant of people’s emotions and good at getting people to open up to me.”

Prized Possession
“My blue Fender electric guitar. I accompanied my grandmother on it at her 50th wedding anniversary, and I played the same song at her funeral service.”

Ashleigh Rose Nubla Ogan

15, Torrance High School

Greatest Hits
➳ Six-time national champion in taekwondo
➳ Bronze medal for Team USA in the female 33kg division at the second Cadet World Championship in Muju, Korea
➳ Currently ranked #3 in the world

What’s Next?
2020 Olympics and become an engineer

pay it forward
“I just want to help out as many people as I can through volunteer work and hopefully inspire other kids to aim for their goals and never give up. This weekend we took our taekwondo team to the St. Francis Center to do volunteer work, feeding breakfast to the homeless people in LA. There were 16 of us that went, and it was a wonderful experience.”

Recipe for Success
“Perseverance, hard work and humility.”

Leana Jacobs

18, Vistamar School

Greatest Hits
➳ Medaled at Junior Olympics for 100m backstroke
➳ First in Beach Flags at Junior Lifeguard nationals
➳ School mentor for young African-Americans and Mexican-Americans

What’s Next?
Become a surgeon and save lives

person i admire
“Martin Luther King Jr. He fought hard to put discrimination and racial segregation to sleep through nonviolent protests. He was someone who believed in freedom, peace and justice for everyone.”

Biggest Hope
“To have us all come together as a nation, regardless of ideals, race, gender, religion or political beliefs, and respect each other in order to remain the powerful country that we’ve always been.”

Jason Phillips

17, Peninsula High School

Greatest Hits
➳ Creating a club called Rapping 4 Smiles with more than 100 student sign-ups
➳ Coaching a sixth-grade Palos Verdes Basketball Association team
➳ 800 score on SAT math

What’s Next?
Study a combination of science and finance and live a meaningful life

person i admire
“My 95-year-old grandmother, Lily, who escaped Hitler and became one of the first women comic strip artists in the U.S. She truly persevered through adversity.”

Recipe for Success
“Lead a balanced life. Socializing and happiness is an important part of being successful. It’s important to see the funny things in life.”


Loganne Basuel

15, South Torrance High School

Greatest Hits
➳ 2016 Level 9 Western National Champion in gymnastics
➳ 5th in the nation for all-around score

What’s Next?
Receive a full gymnastics scholarship in gymnastics at Oregon State University and study kinesiology

Prized Possession
“My family.”

Secret to Success
“I know with a good attitude, I can accomplish anything.”

Jessica Rojas

17, Rolling Hills Preparatory School

Greatest Hits
➳ Completed the LAPD Cadets 18-week program
➳ Medal for Most Inspirational

What’s Next?
Become a forensic anthropologist and FBI agent

My Inspiration
“My father came to the U.S. to give his family a better life and education. His American Dream has been for all his children to become something of themselves. And for his American Dream to be accomplished, I need to help finish it. In his eyes, I am his American Dream.”

Pay it forward
“Once I am financially stable, I would like to give back to LA Challenge. It’s an organization that helps low-income students attend private schools—one that I have been a part of since seventh grade.”


Sophie Paige Greenhouse

16, Mira Costa High School

Greatest Hits
➳ Founding Prescription 4 Happiness, a group that fundraises and decorates children’s rooms at hospitals
➳ Earning 100 members and raising $10,000

What’s Next?
Expand Prescription 4 Happiness and pursue a career in medicine

Event That Changed My Life
“Visiting an orphanage in Thailand and seeing smiles on the faces of children who were born in prison. They came from nothing, have nothing and couldn’t be happier.”

My Inspiration
”My family. According to my dad, I’m made from the best stuff on earth.”

Ethan Comeaux

17, Redondo Union High School

Greatest Hits
➳ Winning the CIF Division 1 championship cross-country race
➳ Two-time Daily Breeze Cross-Country All Area Runner
of the Year

What’s Next?
2020 Olympic Games

My inspiratoin
“My coach and teammates most inspire me to be great.”

Prized Possession
“My computer, because I saved up enough money to buy the parts and build it myself.”

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