If ever you meet Bales Intermediate fourth-grader Carter Payne, you may not immediately see how exceedingly talented he is because of his humility and quiet demeanor; but, if you ever have the privilege of watching him perform, there will be no denying he is very gifted.
Payne’s main passion lies in musical theater, but for being someone who performs in the spotlight often, he does not bring the light upon himself, rather it exudes from him.
“When I see him on stage, he looks like he’s really enjoying [performing],” Aleisha Zavala, Bales music teacher, said. “He makes you enjoy it because his expressions, his movements, his voice all show he’s loving what he’s doing and it pulls you in. I’m always impressed with his work ethic and his talent.”
Payne’s love for the theater came when he was just four years old, watching his older cousin act in a play. Seeing his relative’s love for what he was doing made Payne want to try acting too.
“I like dressing up and telling a story to other people,” Payne said. “It makes me happy.”
Since his start, Payne has been in plays/musicals such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Junie B. Jones, Madagascar and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He is currently working on The Jungle Book.
“I always get nervous at the beginning of plays, but after five or six minutes, I’m just dancing and I don’t think about being scared,” Payne said.
Zavala said she admires his fearlessness.
“I find that kids tend to draw back, especially when it comes to singing. Singing is a very personal thing, so anytime I have a child who is willing to sing, I latch on to that because it is hard to find,” she said. “He’s confident in himself, but not in a boastful way.”
Chantell Edmond, Payne’s homeroom teacher, agreed.
“A lot of kids who are as successful as he is are all about ‘me, me, me, me, me’ and he’s just not that kid. He takes his successes and keeps moving,” Edmond said. “He’s very humble; he understands it’s the hard work that went into it, and it is not just all-natural.”
Jenna Dollens, another one of Payne’s teachers, said Payne’s quiet confidence intrigues his fellow classmates.
“The kids respect him because the way he’s just himself,” Dollens said. “He works hard and takes it upon himself to help others.”
His urge to help others comes from his desire to make people happy, according to Payne.
“I try to build people up,” Payne stated. “If my friends are sad, I try to pick them up and make them feel better. I don’t like seeing people being hurt or feeling sad.”
His empathetic ways and his acting skills have both been put to good use with the Bales Destination Imagination (DI) team. Payne is a part of the team of seven students who recently qualified for the Global DI Competition. The DI students have completed acts of service/kindness throughout their campus and performed self-written stories during competitions.
“It’s such a neat thing,” Edmond said. “Seeing everyone’s excitement is awesome, yet [Carter] never wants to be the center of attention even in the midst of all he’s been successful with.”
Moving forward, Payne’s teachers said they hope he continues to stay true to himself and pursue his passions.
“I think the fact he’s a quiet, fearless leader is probably a strength he doesn’t even realize will carry him even further the older he gets,” Edmond said. “He has an old soul about him, he’s way beyond his years with his character, but it’s just who he is and I hope he continues on the same path he’s on.”