Amanda Zahr, 16

E 78th St and FDR Dr

Amanda Zahr, 16
Amanda Zahr, 16

Photograph: Jay Muhlin

Is this where the cool kids hang out? [Laughs] No, not really. We're on lunch break from school.

Where do you go? Eleanor Roosevelt. It's, like, everything that could be wrong about a school. The reason why people grow up to be, like, superficial and uncivilized—like the majority of the world, basically—it's because they go to schools like my school.

Mrs. Roosevelt is turning in her grave. Well, it's a good school, but it's just not for me. My personal beliefs don't go well there.

Are you gonna stick it out till college? I might transfer to City-as-School.

City-as-School? Sounds like playing hooky. [Laughs] No, it's a good idea: You go three days a week and the other days you intern at places around the city.

Do you know what you want to do? Um, well, I have, like, three possibilities. The first is quantum mechanics. The idea of the fabric of, like, time-space and parallel universes—that's what I think about in my spare time.

Wow. Is No. 2 rocket science? No, I want to change the world.

Of course! How? I want to get my ideas out about how the world can be better. You know in Forrest Gump how he travels around and stuff? I want to travel across the country and meet everybody and spread my ideas.

Quantum mechanics, proselytizing...what's the backup plan? If I don't end up doing those, I'll move to Jamaica and live on the beach and, like, enjoy my time.

More from Amanda

"People in the city are so unbelievably different—people in the suburbs are a lot nicer. They're also really not smart when it comes to... Well, people who grow up here grow up faster."

"There's no dress code at my school—it's not like there's a stupid rule where your shorts have to be up to your middle finger when you stand up or anything—but I mean, you can't, like, dress like a prostitute."

Amanda says: "My dad's from Lebanon and my mom was born in the Bronx. She's Russian and Polish. My mom's Jewish and my dad's not religious. Me and my mom celebrate Jewish holidays with her family. My dad just doesn't go—he wants nothing to do with religion. I think he has a good reason: He saw it divide his country."

—Kate Lowenstein