Whaleyville youth bringing Suffolk’s past to life

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 8, 2003

Megan Smith expected to answer questions and telephones when she began volunteering at the Suffolk Tourism Department.

But the 14-year-old Whaleyville youngster didn’t anticipate the opportunity to step back in time to the 1800s and assume the identity of Martha Josephine Prentis, the daughter of one of the city’s founding citizens. The Visitors’ Center is in the family’s newly restored house on North Main Street.

Before long, she will begin wearing period clothing and knitting – an activity common to young women of the era – on days when she volunteers.

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Smith is looking forward to the reenactment opportunities.

&uot;I’m pretty good with my people skills and I really enjoy acting,&uot; she said. &uot;I’ve played a lot of imagination games over the years with my brothers and two cousins.&uot;

Smith, who learned to knit several years ago, even made some wooden knitting needles similar to what may have been used during that era. She halved a wooden dowel, sharpened both ends in a pencil sharpener and placed round balls atop each needle.

&uot;She is such an enthusiastic young lady, it seems like a perfect match,&uot; said Lynette Brugeman, director of tourism. &uot;Megan is a delight. I wish we could clone her.&uot;

She is one of just two teen-agers who volunteer with the department.

&uot;I hope she spurs some interest from other teens who are interested in improving the communications skills,&uot; Brugeman said. &uot;It is a good opportunity for anyone.&uot;

Smith, who is home-schooled, is also an avid reader.

Besides enjoying young-adult novels, Smith has also enjoyed reading the classics: &uot;Anne of Green Gables,&uot; Black Beauty&uot; and &uot;Heidi&uot;

&uot;I’ve memorized the prologue to &uot;Romeo and Juliet,&uot; Smith said. &uot;I’ve also read ‘Hamlet.’ That was a little depressing, a downer.&uot;

Name? Megan Elizabeth Smith

Age? 14

Hometown? I was born in Portsmouth. I have lived in Suffolk for five years.

Family? Mother and step-father, Lisa and Jay Quigley; two brothers, Patrick Smith and Travis Quigley; father and step mother, Michael and Ginny Smith; two step sisters, Heidi Gilbert and Jamie Siler

Education? I have always home-schooled. I am now in 9th grade. My favorite subjects are Math, Reading, Writing, and German.

Why do you prefer home-schooling? I prefer home-schooling because it is more flexible. I can do what subjects interest me, when they interest me. For example, I started German a year before I normally would have in a regular school situation. Because I am around my family members more, I have strong relationships with them.

Career/occupation? Student

Volunteer activities? I volunteer at the Suffolk Visitors Center. My mother and I volunteered with the Friends of the Suffolk Library for a year.

Favorite thing about life in Suffolk? I love how Suffolk has a small town feel. I am always seeing people I know, and everyone seems friendly.

What accomplishment are you proudest of? I’ve not yet accomplished enough nor experienced enough to say what accomplishment I am most proud of.

Who or what motivates and inspires you? My family, everyone in it has something great to offer the world. My yoga teacher, Kelly Schaubach, who is a wonderful person.

Favorite way to spend free time? I like reading, knitting horseback riding, writing, using the computer and listening to music.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with others? Be yourself.

What ingredients are in the recipe for a good life? Kindness, a positive outlook on life, and taking pride in what you do.

We all have our 15 minutes of fame in this life. How would you spend your time in the spotlight? I would like to be in a play or a movie.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I wish I were taller.