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American Fork ‘Super Teens’ get national plaudits

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AMERICAN FORK — They don't wear capes, leap tall buildings in a single bound or sling sticky webs at bad guys, but Natalie Richards and Brent Anderson are "Super Teens."

The two American Fork High School students are the only ones in Utah to be designated as "Super Teens" by Next Step magazine, a nationally distributed college, career and life-planning publication. Richards and Anderson, both 18 and seniors, are highly motivated and ambitious young people.

The Super Teen contest isn't based on academics. It focuses on extracurricular activities and volunteer work.

Richards plays the harp, speaks French and wants to be a veterinarian. Anderson co-founded a technology business, invented a computer game and volunteers at a local space camp.

Though the contest application didn't focus on scholarship, Richards has a 4.0 grade point average and Anderson a 3.96 GPA. They are both Sterling Scholar and National Merit Scholarship finalists.

The two teens don't win cash or a car for being a Super Teen. They did get their photo on the front cover of the magazine, however, along with a small article inside.

"There is some satisfaction in being able to quantify what you have done," Anderson said. "We can say 'We did it.' It's a pat on the back. Yay."

Richards said, "Recognition for hard work is always appreciated, even if you don't actually get anything tangible from it."

The pair were two of 15 regional winners. There were 185 winners nationally.

Richards practices her harp for hours almost every day. She has performed in Dublin, Nice, Paris, Los Angeles, Detroit and throughout Utah. She also teaches harp lessons. She has been taking French classes since the seventh grade and is now in an advanced placement French class. She has traveled to France three times. She plans to attend the University of Utah and major in biology.

Anderson volunteers at the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center, based in Central Elementary School in Pleasant Grove. Students attend the center as a space camp with flight simulations. At the camp, Anderson teaches junior high and high school students computer programming and multimedia.

He invented a computer game called "Lumen." It is a highly addictive game where the player bounces a laser through certain checkpoints. He also co-founded a tech business called Fiery Ferret that performs information technology work for small or mid-sized businesses. He aims to attend Brigham Young University and major in computer engineering, then get an MBA and a jurisdoctorate degree.

Both have advice for other teens:

"Success in general is doing something you enjoy and doing it well," Richards said.

Anderson said, "You have to believe in yourself."

E-mail: astewart@desnews.com