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Clayton students dream big about their futures

By Johnny Jackson

They are academics, actors, athletes, musicians, and student leaders; they are four descriptively different students at Jonesboro High School, who look forward to another year doing what they love and aspiring to be better at it.

"I'm not a student that's well-known or really popular," said Brooke Arrington. "The students know me as being intelligent. I think they perceive me sometimes as a little bit off beat."

"Lions are kings of the jungle. I'm not king of the team, yet. But hopefully, I'll get there sooner or later," said Brandon Lucas.

"I'd think my teammates would say I was a good player, pretty much an all-around good player," said Shanice Smith.

"I want to get into the college of my dreams," said Stephanie Gardiner.

Describing themselves individually, the four unknowingly described some part of each other.

Gardiner eyed Indiana University and Florida State University as two among several choices of colleges she would like to attend when she graduates high school.

An avid music lover, she plans to major in music performance in college and continue into a career in music production.

"I love music, all kinds," Gardiner said. "My mom and dad, for some reason, are not very musical. But I grew up listening to classical music. I have two brothers and a sister and all, before me, were in band."

She leads the flute section in the Jonesboro High School Marching Band.

"I cannot live without my flute," she said, regaling on a depressive time made better through playing her flute. "My brother, who I've been very close to moved away. That affected me."

Music seems to be the prevailing expressive outlet for the 17-year-old, who also wants to learn to play the drums and the piano.

"I like alternative rock music; I like the band Coldplay," she said. "'What If' is my favorite song, because I know (Chris Martin, lead singer-writer) put a lot of heart into it."

Gardiner said she will try to work hard this year and look out for others.

"I'm somewhat of a leader," she said. "I expect to have fun this year, but I'm going to try to set an example for underclassmen."

Smith is a 15-year-old sophomore at Jonesboro High School. Friday, Smith sat watching an episode of 'The Fairy God Parent'. It was something to watch after a tiring volleyball practice, she said. "Whatever is on to watch; the news is kind of boring."

She is optimistic about this school year.

"It will be kind of fun the first day of school to see all my old friends," she said.

At five-foot-eight, Smith starts at power-outside hitter for her school's volleyball squad.

"I play soccer for school too," she said. "I'm the goalie, and this is my second year."

Last summer, Smith went to camp at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington to improve on her setting and passing in volleyball. She said she hopes the team will make it to the final four, even championships.

"I want to go to college and play volleyball," she said.

Smith inflected that her wardrobe is mostly casual, outfitted with denim jeans that reflect her personality.

"I am nice, funny maybe; I'm not sure," she said with humility.

"She's fun and outgoing. She's really funny and nice to everybody," said Jessica Brightwell about Smith. The 15-year-old friend and classmate commended Smith. "Keep doing what you're doing, and you'll be great."

Arrington is an artistic 17-year-old thespian in her senior year at Jonesboro High School. Recently, she played lead in the musical "Into the Woods."

She is a self-described Libertarian, as different and variant as the color indigo. She frequently volunteers for her church. Even, last summer she went on her forth fortnight mission trip to Costa Rica

"I like college indy rock, early gansta rap, and electronic music," she said. "My favorite band right now is the White Stripes; 'I Can Tell We're Going to be Friends' is one of my favorite songs. It talks about childhood innocence."

This year, she may be up for Science Club president, while she is busied with the Art Club, the Beta Club, the Honor Society, and as captain of the JHS Marching Band Color Guard.

Already, Arrington plans to attend Georgia State University and major in English Education. She said she eventually wants to be a professor and novelist.

For now, she said she is trying to become a more spiritual person.

"I want to be able to change a lot of people's opinions of me," she said. "Now, they see me as a very opinionated person, but I want them to see that I am a very sensitive and open-minded person too."

Lucas considers himself an athlete and sports fan in the whole sense of the words. He prefers to read a box score in a newspaper to the weather.

His teammates compare him to Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn.

"He's an all-around sports player, pretty much," said P. J. Thompson, 16.

"He's a good sport," said Antwan Halt, 16. "A lot of underclassmen look up to him."

Peanut, as his football coach calls him, plays three sports year-round on his Playstation 2 console and in reality.

The 16-year-old junior plays tailback for a young Jonesboro High School football team. Aside from members of his family, Lucas said he idolizes retired professional football players Emmitt Smith and Barry Sanders, leading rushers in his favorite sport, St. Louis centerfielder Jim Edmonds, and Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade.

Like them, Lucas aspires to be a leader on his team or, as he described himself, a lion. He is already considered a leader on the Jonesboro High School Cardinals basketball team, according to his coach. He starts at point guard for his team.

People may not know he likes to keep up with hockey.

"I like it," he said. "It's different. It's sort of like football with the contact and everything."

He has thanked his 21-year-old brother Adam Lucas for his competitive streak.

"Really, I just want to win games," Lucas said. To do it, he said, his the Cardinals have got to stay focused.

He listens to Rap and R&B for motivation.

"TI is my favorite rapper," he said. "I like his style. It's different from everybody else's.

"I have no musical talent. But I'm very athletic; I'm very blessed."