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These two 16-year-olds are unique in their own ways, but they are both using their talents to make the world a better place.

While other teens are watching movies on the couch, Alex "A.J." Jabaji is starring in them.

A.J., a junior at Starpoint High School, will be playing one of the main characters in "Race to the Finish," a heartwarming movie that focuses on faith and friendship.

A.J.'s character, Paul, intervenes when a teen with special needs is being bullied.

"[The movie] had a really good story line," A.J. said. "Especially with the death of [Williamsville North freshman] Jamey Rodemeyer, I felt that it was a really good time to get the movie out there."

A.J., who has acted with the Parable Players, a local church group that acts out plays about Jesus' parables, has been acting since his sixth-grade school musical, but this will be his first movie appearance.

"Race to the Finish" is expected to premiere Feb. 24 at the Dipson Theatres in Amherst.

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Different strokes

Another area teen who longs to make a difference in the community is Dominic Cavaretta. Dominic is a home-schooled junior from Tonawanda who is a couple of steps away from becoming an Eagle Scout.

There's one thing that stands in his way -- a humongous project.

Dominic needs to complete a project in the community and present the plans for that project before a board that will decide whether or not he is worthy of becoming an Eagle Scout. He had to choose a project that would not only help the community but also involve the community.

Dominic decided to paint the lengthy, rusty, black iron fence around the Carmelite Monastery in Buffalo.

He knew he wanted to help the monastery for his project, but he wasn't sure how, but after discussing it with some people at the monastery, he decided on the fence.

Dominic, his friends and his family have been working to complete this mission.

"Honestly, I didn't know it would take me three months to do," Dominic said.

Dominic and his crew have put away their paint brushes for the season, but they will be back at it in spring. Not only has the work been helpful to the Carmelites, but it has brought together teens and adults to have fun and help their community.

Rachel Ziarnowski is a junior at Holy Angels Academy.