If John Panos is one day sitting in the CEO’s office of a Fortune 500 company, none of his Huntington High School classmates or teachers would be the least bit surprised. The teenager is already one of the top young entrepreneurs in the country and he’s just getting rolling.
Mr. Panos began his journey through Huntington UFSD in a Flower Hill Primary School kindergarten classroom. He has been shining ever since. He’s only a junior, but he’s already eyeing a coveted spot in the University of Pennsylvania’s famed Wharton School of Business.
“The Wharton School of Business has been my dream for as long as I can remember, even at times when I thought business wasn’t for me,” Mr. Panos said. “Now that I’m older and have had actual experience as an entrepreneur, I’ve never been more confident in a career choice and I am certain that the University of Pennsylvania would provide me with the best business education anyone can receive.”
The teenager’s academic schedule includes classes in Advanced Placement Physics, AP Language and Composition, AP US History, Spanish IV Honors, Science Research, Virtual Enterprise and Pre-Calculus AB Honors.
Mr. Panos’ closest friends include Anna Wickey, Riva Bergman, Beanna Cumella and Chris Weber. “John is one of my closest friends and I’m so lucky to have met him,” Ms. Wickey said. “He always works hard to reach his goals and I admire his passion for what he does. I hope we stay close for many years to come.”
The teenager is a born leader who displays the type of charismatic personality that people are drawn to and are inspired by. “John is one of my best friends and an extremely hard worker,” Ms. Bergman said. “Currently we are both taking Virtual Enterprise and since he is the CEO of the company, I look up to everything he does, including the decisions he makes and how he handles certain situations. I know that he will go very far in business and I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes in the coming years.”
A member of a long list of Huntington academic honor societies, Mr. Panos is on the high school’s Science Olympiad team. He is the chairman of the Blue Devils’ defending county champion mock trial team, which reached the No. 3 ranking in the state last year. He’s the CEO of Poppy, his Virtual Enterprise class’ company.
Mr. Panos is always striving to grow intellectually. “Over the past two years, I’ve been working privately with a wonderful panel of business coaches and investors on my first startup company, Radius Tech; a simple Bluetooth device with incorporated GPS software built to keep track of all your personal belongings. In today’s world, we all find ourselves in a rush from time to time and the possibility of forgetting something when you leave your house is inevitable, no matter who you are. I’ve been so passionate about Radius because I know it can make a huge difference throughout our society and hopefully bring an end to 21st century disorganization.”
The junior’s favorite Huntington teachers have included Paige Tyree Furman, Victoria Lombardi, Dame Forbes and Stacey Byrnes.
“John Panos has truly grown as a young man,” said Mrs. Forbes, a high school science teacher. “He is a go getter. He is not afraid of trying new things and works hard to excel. John is so talented. The world is just beginning to see his potential. As a teacher, it is always exciting to see all the places your students can and will go.”
Always growing as a person, Mr. Panos has traveled throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. “I’ve also been to a ton of places in the Caribbean, such as Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Saint Maarten and the Bahamas,” he said. “Next summer, my family and I plan to explore Europe.”
Mr. Panos kicked off his spectacular high school run by capturing a nationwide stock market competition as a freshman after tripling his initial investment in less than three months. “Afterwards, I was introduced to some of the most intelligent and successful financial analysts, actuaries and stockbrokers, who really helped me get my foot in the door throughout the business world.”
He has also sparkled as an attorney with Huntington High School’s mock trial team, helping to lead the Blue Devils to their first ever county title last year. “The mock trial program has had a wonderful impact on my academic career,” Mr. Panos said. “It’s really helped me learn to think on my feet, grow as a public speaker and it’s also afforded me an opportunity to familiarize myself with the law.”
Mr. Panos thinks about his business interests throughout the day. He has participated in several Virtual Enterprise business events this year and when he puts on a suit and tie and makes a presentation he could easily pass for a young Manhattan executive.
“Being the CEO for my Virtual Enterprise class company this year has further allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and try new things I have been hesitant to do in a real business environment, especially for our newly established firm, Poppy Inc., an all-natural bagel chip company dedicated to reducing national food waste simply through repurposing bagels within the northeast,” Mr. Panos said. “Working as an all-student business has been a very interesting change as opposed to what I’ve been used to these past few years, but the results have been absolutely outstanding! I’ve seen so many students at this firm display a tremendous amount of potential. I’m really eager to work with them and hopefully bring Poppy into the real world very soon.”
Although he has 18 months to go before high school graduation, Mr. Panos has already learned enough to be comfortable giving incoming freshmen advice. “Always try to diversify yourself during the first year of high school,” he said. “Take classes you wouldn’t usually take or even try an extracurricular you haven’t ever heard of. Then the next year, take all of the experience you’ve gained try to find something you really love; something you want to do for the rest of your life and pursue it as much as you possibly can, even if people try to dissuade you. You are your own person.”
Ask any student or teacher around the high school building about Mr. Panos and they will invariably reply that he’s “going places.” He just seems to have that aura around him.
“Without Huntington High School, I wouldn’t be near what I am today,” Mr. Panos said. “I came to Huntington thinking I wanted to pursue astronomy, but the second I began to learn about the fundamentals of business I immediately fell in love with it. I cannot thank enough everyone who has inspired and mentored me throughout these past few years. They have all been such a tremendous help.”