To those who knew him, Kenrud Belony was a serious and smart kid with a silly streak.
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The 17-year-old high school student liked to show up for class impeccably dressed, with a twist. Belony would wear the bottom of his pants slightly rolled up to expose his garishly colored socks.
"Just bizarre socks," said Scott McDermott, who taught Belony at Inlet Grove High School the past three years. "One day he'd have tie-dyed colored socks and the next day it would be red or pink or blue. Ken was a funny guy."
Belony drowned on Monday off Peanut Island after being caught in an outgoing tide. A Palm Beach County Ocean Rescue official said Belony was wading with a small group of people on a sand bar nearby when he either decided to head into deeper water or was pulled out by the strong current. He spent nine minutes under water and was about 100 yards from a designated swimming area before emergency crews found him.
James Jasmin, Belony's friend from their days at Crestwood Middle School in Royal Palm Beach, said he last spoke to him on Friday after school.
"He said he was just going to chill and relax with his family during the three-day weekend," said Jasmin, a student at Royal Palm Beach High School.
Jasmin and Belony were track and field standouts at Crestwood, and the two re-connected recently after Kenrud transferred from Inlet Grove to Royal Palm Beach. Belony, an 800-meter runner, was part of a Crestwood boys' team that won the Palm Beach County middle school team championship then finished second at the state meet.
"He was a natural," said Marque Drummond, Crestwood's track coach. "He could run all day."
Belony helped set the school record for the 4x800 meters at Crestwood, a mark that still stands.
"You name the perfect kid, that was him," Drummond said. "Self-motivated, worked hard and saw the big picture early."
Choosing to concentrate on academics at Inlet Grove, Belony gave up track his first three years in high school. His plan was to return to the sport and run for Royal Palm Beach as a senior, Jasmin said.
"This year was going to be a great year," Jasmin said. "It was going to be like Crestwood all over again. We were just going to dominate like we did in middle school."
Belony excelled in the classroom as well. According to McDermott, who teaches television production at Inlet Grove, Belony was one of only three students in the county that was certified in Apple's Final Cut Pro X video-editing technology.
McDermott said Belony had expressed interest in attending Florida State University, which offers a major in media production.
"A good kid that showed up on time and did what you asked him to do," McDermott described his former pupil. "I never got a chance to ask him why he went to Royal Palm Beach for his senior year instead of coming here. And now, it's too late."
Published in The Palm Beach Post from Sept. 4 to Oct. 3, 2013