Rock out with Peytonius Maximus in Camden
CAMDEN — She goes by the nickname Peytonius Maximus and she rocks. No, literally, she rocks out in an all-female band as the drummer and she just won a category in Hardy Girls Healthy Women’s statewide contest Girls Rock!, which celebrates Maine girls' voices, leadership, and activism.
She is Peyton Feener, a 17-year-old student at the Community School, in Camden. Oh there’s no doubt she’s one of the Rad Kids. Within two seconds of meeting her at The Rig a few weeks back, she gave off this bubbly, goofy vibe, very playful, just open to the world.
In the Midcoast, the rainbow-dyed hair, piercings and rocker chick attire is still, to some degree, an alternative look (although in the cities it has become somewhat ubiquitous) and to a surprisingly large amount of adults in this area, it is a scary look Maybe not scary, but unnerving. The stereotypical association with alternative kids around here is: they’re on drugs; they’re not doing well at school; they defy authority.
Peyton is a perfect example of why you should always approach every kid in this town with an open mind. She’s a musician/ singer who is working on a demo album for a prominent record label at the moment. She participates in Roller Derby as a Jeerleader; she DJs for WRFR’s radio show “Out! On the Air With Peyton and friends.” She volunteers for Project AWARE, and Out As I Want To Be. She even worked on Obama's reelection campaign.
Sitting with her family on one of her rare days off at home, we watched as her little sister, Maggie, brought over a doll with the same multi-color hue as Peyton’s.
“I’m part mermaid,” Peyton explained, pointing to a mermaid mixed-media piece she’d created that hangs in her family’s living room.
By her own admission, she stumbled early on in her high school career, dealing with some personal issues.
"Summer of 2010, I was not doing well at all," she said. "And then I went to the Community School. There, I still not doing well and I left after a couple of months, so they told me,’ if you want to come back, you've got to work really really hard.’ I had this case manager who helped me work through things and then I did an art show at Waterfall Arts. After that, I started to get involved with all these other things,” she said.
With her parents’ and teachers’ support, she is a whole different person now. “Community school is freakin’ amazing," she said.
"It's beast." The staff, "is the best thing in the world."
She said she's thriving there. After a nine month program, she graduates in May, where she hopes to still continue working at the Good Tern.
Yeah, that’s right. On top of school, a dizzying array of volunteer roles — she works too.
“It's really hard sometimes,” she said. “I have to call my mom all the time and ask her: ‘what do I have on my schedule today?’ But I want to be involved with everything.”
Her only day off is Saturday.
"It's my chill day. Most of the day all I want to do is sleep and watch TV or movies, hang out with my roommates.”
Coming up on April 5, she will be honored among other young women in Maine in an all-day event titled Girls Rock! Weekend in Waterville Maine hosted by Hardy Girls Healthy Women.
She was nominated for Health Advocacy category and won partly for her participation in Project AWARE’s educational PSAs about teen pregnancy, sponsored by Family Planning. “I acted, wrote the storyline and did hair, makeup and wardrobe,” she said. She is also honored for her continuing work with Out As I Want To Be, a Midcoast organization that supports LGBTQ teens.
“I like working with groups that not a lot of people volunteer with because they don’t have a lot of help and I like to help, especially with LGBTQ rights, animal rights, water conservation and civil rights.”
She has a lot of LGBTQ friends and the discrimination they face daily makes her angry.
“It’s just not fair. It’s messed up. People should not have to vote [on same sex marriage] because it’s a person’s right to be happy and get married to someone they love. It shouldn’t even be arguable. It’s everyone’s human right to be loved.”
After some tea, we hang out in her room, waiting for her band mate, who goes by the name, Tuesday, to arrive. Her posters of Johnny Cash, Johnny Depp, Freddie Mercury, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain frame a bed still decorated with Teddy bears. A black drum kit sits in the corner, where she will practice for up to seven hours today, on her only day off.
It’s time to get down to practice. She lifts the drum sticks like she’s about to rock. Well, we already know she does.
Hail To The Rad Kids is a new feature highlighting teens with artistic or musical talent. Another place to check out what the kids are up to is Sound Off, a monthly feature sponsored by Five Town Communities That Care to publicly recognize the contributions that middle and high school teens are making in our community.
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com