Jennifer Mullins isn't sure what she wants to do when she gets out of college, but she hopes it has something to do with writing.
"I love to write," said the Payson High School senior. "It's just a great way to express yourself."
Besides putting her imagination to work writing poetry, short stories and mysteries, Mullins writes for therapeutic reasons. "Whenever I have a bad day, writing is a good way to get my feelings out."
When the Roundup went looking for a high school student to poll student opinion through its regular "Locker Talk" feature, Mullins was the first one to apply.
"I'm very interested in journalism," she said. I'm hoping to take some journalism classes in college."
Besides "Locker Talk," Mullins has agreed to write an occasional article for the Roundup as her busy schedule allows.
But like most teens these days, there are not many spare hours in her daily routine. In addition to her school and newspaper responsibilities, she works part-time at Kentucky Fried Chicken, where she is training to be a supervisor.
The acting bug
And then there's Mullins' other passion acting which also serves as a means of expression.
"I love acting; I love to be on stage," she said. "It gives me the chance to step outside and be somebody else."
Her involvement in drama at PHS has allowed her to become part of a group the drama club that has become, for her, an extended family.
"We're all friends," Mullins said.
"It's like a big family. We tell each other our problems."
And of course with drama at PHS you also get teachers Kathy and John Siler.
"The Silers really care about their students," she said. "They're the best teachers I've ever had."
Mullins' acting credits include "Weighty Matters," "Get Smart," "Crimes at the Old Brewery," "May the Farce be With You," "The Ghost of Canterville," and others too numerous to mention.
She is currently the female lead in a one-act comedy, "It's all in the Cards" by Vern Harden, which is now in rehearsal.
"It's about two old people who bicker and fight, and I'm the old lady, Iris Rose Bloominghart," Mullins said.
The drama club is preparing the play for the Central Arizona Acting Festival, a statewide competition that will be held Jan. 27 in Apache Junction.
The play also features junior Ryan Hilgendorf as the male lead and a cast of characters with names like J. Edgar Heever, Al Capone, Machine-Gun Kelly and Pretty-Boy Floyd.
"We hope we'll be able to do one performance here in Payson so our parents can see it," Mullins said. But if not, Rim country residents will get to see her perform at least one more time before she graduates. She will play Diana in the Shakespearean comedy "All's Well That Ends Well," March 1-3.
Mullins moved to the Rim country from Chandler six years ago.
"My grandmother had a cabin in Show Low, and we'd pass through here on our way up there," she said. "When my parents decided it was time to get away from all the crime and everything in the big city, this is where we looked."
Now, with graduation on the horizon, she's poised to head back down to the Valley.
In May, Mullins plans to enroll at Mesa Community College and eventually transfer to Arizona State University. While she's unsure about her major, she hopes to do some acting and continue to write on the side.