Stella Serafin doesn’t quite remember the first time she was ever on a skateboard. Asking her is a lot like asking other kids to remember their first steps or the first time they tasted solid food. Skateboards, she says, were simply always around; but she figures she’s been a skateboarder since she was three years old.
In the years since she’s built a notable career around the sport, most recently as a designer whose art has been featured on skateboards, t-shirts, and stickers. Skateboarding remains a realm populated predominantly by guys – both as the athletes on the boards and the business people who sell the gear, clothing, and accessories – but that hasn’t stopped Stella. Being in third grade hasn’t either.
“Some boys think that skateboards aren’t for girls,” says Stella. “Some boys have told me that. But skateboarding isn’t a boy thing. It’s not a boy thing and it’s not a girl thing. That stuff doesn’t matter. All that matters is if you like to skateboard.”
Stella was introduced to skateboarding by her dad. The family used to live in Brooklyn, and he and Stella would go to parks to practice. She’s fallen down a lot she says, and has learned that even though it’s fun to go fast, it’s more important to stay in control of your board so you don’t crash. Crashing, she says, is no fun at all.
“I think of the story of the rabbit and the turtle,” says the Sanfordville Elementary student. “The turtle made it.”
Stella so loves skateboarding that when her teacher assigned a “how to” essay to the class, Stella’s topic was “How to build a skateboard,” and she created illustrated step-by-step instructions. Her skateboarding dad was impressed by her work, and sent it along to Street Plant, a skateboard company in California. They were impressed, too, and Stella’s instructions are now shipped along with their orders. She has since designed other packaging inserts, as well as her first skateboard. And earlier this year, she volunteered at a Baltimore fundraiser to build a skateboard park in memory of a skateboarder killed in an accident. The goal, she said, is to build a skateboard park so kids will have a safe place to skate and have fun.
She is a voice for skateboarders here, too, and she and her dad worked the Greenwood Lake Skateboard Park’s booth during Applefest, raising money and bringing awareness to the project. She sees herself as an “ambassador” of her sport, and she passed out flyers and chatted with passers-by about the fun of skateboarding and the importance of exercise, fresh air, and a safe place to skateboard.
“I tell people that if they want to skateboard they should do it,” says Stella. “It feels like what fun feels like.”
Each week, Warwick Valley Central School District Superintendent Dr. David Leach shines the “The Superintendent’s Spotlight” on one of Warwick Valley’s amazing students. “Superintendent’s Spotlight” features students who reach goals, face challenges, and are role models to their peers.