Fashion Designer, Age 11
Let the other sixth graders run around during recess. Cecilia Cassini would rather finish her homework in the library, so after school "I can come home, turn on some Lady Gaga and just sew away," says the Los Angeles designer, who counts Miley Cyrus and Brooke Shields as celeb fans of her colorful collections, which retail from $65 to $155 at Fred Segal. Since she was 4, "she liked to cut and redecorate her clothes," says her mom, Michelle, 42, a yoga teacher. Adds Cecilia: "They were my mom's, sister's [Annabelle, 16] and mine. I'm not sure if they knew I was cutting up their clothes!" Tired of using ponytail holders to tie back her homemade designs so they fit, Cassini asked for a sewing machine for her sixth birthday, which she now uses to create dresses and accessories with her signature touch: "I have to have a bow on everything!"
Chef, Age 18
The high school grad's first taste of the culinary world came when she stepped in as her mom's sous chef at age 2. "I liked helping, so I started cracking the eggs when she made a cake," says Young, who has since whipped herself into an award-winning cook, earning the Art Institute's Best Teen Chef title in May. After wowing judges with her sweet- potato soup with sauteed shrimp and spiced yogurt, Young earned a full scholarship to the Art Institute of Phoenix's culinary school, where she hopes to learn how to open her own fine-dining restaurant and sharpen her knife skills. "I cut myself a lot, but nothing major," she admits. "I'm a little bit clumsy and accident prone."
Political Pundit, Age 15
At age 9, he heard the word "filibuster" and instantly looked up the definition. Since then the Georgia native has grown into a conservative mouthpiece who has penned a book and spoken at Republican rallies. But politics wasn't his first calling. "When I was little, I did some community theater," says the 10th grader. "I've always been onstage for some reason or another."
Mountain Climber, Age 14
Tackling Mt. Everest is tough. But try scaling the world's tallest peak and studying at the same time. "I'm on an independent study program and brought a bunch of math homework," says the eighth grader, who-alongside his dad and his dad's girlfriend-became the youngest person to reach the summit after his five-week expedition in May. "I stood up on top of the world crying and laughing," says the Big Bear, Calif., native. Then "all I remember doing is calling my mom!"