Some teens' hobbies include going to the mall — while avoiding algebra homework. Eighteen-year-old Kristin Cervantes has a list of more unusual pastimes.
Like writing her second fantasy novel, running her own business and directing community theater. A senior at Providence Charter School, she gives meaning to the age-old phrase, "You can do anything you put your mind to."
So, how does a high school student come to direct a play?
"Ironically, it was my very firm plan to never be involved in theater," Kristin said. "It was my younger sister's realm, and I had no interest in it ... at first."
Kristin said she became intrigued by the technical aspects of theater productions a few years ago and began dabbling in various positions behind the scenes, from technical director to stage manager.
Though she said she prefers to stay out of the limelight whenever possible, Kristin landed the role of the lion Aslan in Denair Gaslight Theater's production of "The Chronicles of Narnia." She got her latest post — director of the company's production of "Harvey" — after submitting her application to the Gaslight board of directors.
"Directing is one of those things that I have always wanted to do just for the sake of experience," she said. "There is always something coming up ... some problem needing a creative solution, an unexpected delay .... But the entire cast has become one big, goofy family, and whenever we are together, something memorable is bound to happen."
Theater is a big time commitment, she said, but things come together at the very last moments, making it all worth it.
"Harvey" follows the eccentric Elwood P. Dowd and his imaginary 6-foot rabbit friend as his family tries, but fails, to place Dowd in a prestigious asylum. Kristin said the cast is varied, from several adult actors who have performed with the company before to students from the community.
She has enjoyed her directing role.
"I love directing because it allows me to make my vision for the stage reality without putting me in the spotlight," she said.
Besides taking part in theater, Kristin makes jewelry out of guitar picks, currently sold at Hendrickson's Music, and on her Web site www.aspiretodesign.com.
She began making the necklaces and earrings two years ago after being convinced that she could make jewelry more interesting than many pieces sold in stores.
Kristin suggests that all students try to find a niche in the business market — a want or need that isn't being filled.
"Find something unique and don't give up if you don't make it right away," she said.
Though she has taken classes at Merced Junior College and hopes to continue after graduating high school, Kristin said she is simply trusting that God will point her in the right direction in regards to a career.
Kristin attributes her successes in both theater and business to the fact that she's been home-schooled, giving her the time to "learn, play, build, or be anything."
Denair Gaslight Theater presents "Harvey" through March 22 at Community Conservatory Theater, 3908 N. Gratton Road, Denair. Performances are at 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $8 adults, $6 children and seniors. Call 664-9514 for reservations.
Sarah-Nichole Bostan is a senior at Modesto High School and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom journalism program.