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A Path Not Often Taken

Generally speaking, for Steve Hartman to tell a story, three almost impossible things need to happen: First the dart has to hit your town. Secondly, he has to pick your number and finally, and perhaps most improbably, you have to beat your teen-ager to the phone.

This week he went to Warren County, Miss., where he met 13-year-old Angela Plant.

Angela is the smallest kid at Ridgewood Junior High. At 4 feet 6 inches tall, she is barely taller than her bass drum and has been overlooked by every clique in the school.

Adjusting to junior high has been pretty tough, Angela reveals. "Because I'm small, I don't hang around with all the popular kids," she says.

Yet what is special about this girl is her remarkable resistance to what she calls the junior-high junk: peer pressure, cigarettes, drugs and bad decisions.

"I have totally made up my mind that I'm not going to do that thing," she notes.

Her mom, who calls Angela "very strong-willed," also notes, "She will hold to her position no matter what."

"I want my future to be bright and happy instead of in rehab centers and jail my whole life," she explains. And her point of view has a personal reason behind it.

Perhaps more than anyone one else in her school, Angela knows why kids shouldn't mess up, thanks to an ex-con named Pastor Charlie Plant.

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