Try to keep up with Bryn Weaver during a typical Tuesday in her life, and you will understand why the Steamboat Springs High School senior has the endurance to run a 3.1 mile cross country race.
Weaver paces herself through a demanding day of activities and classes much as she would during a hard cross country race, with the starting gun going off at 6:45 a.m. in the form of her alarm clock.
She strolls in the doors of Steamboat Springs High School at 7:45 a.m., and with her wide smile and friendly "Hello," she exudes an upbeat attitude even as she heads into Advanced Placement Biology at 8:20 in the morning.
"It's really not that bad," Weaver said about having to hit the heavy stuff right away. "It's actually my favorite class, but sometimes it takes me a while to really wake up."
For those who think Weaver likes to get her hard classes over early and relax from there wrong.
The rest of Weaver's classes for the day consist of physics and Advanced Placement English. And tomorrow she will tackle French V, a college-level course, calculus, yet another college-level course, and engineering graphics.
On top of the rigorous academic schedule that requires Weaver to dedicate at least two hours a night to homework, Tuesday she logged an hour and a half with the speech team, and dedicated an hour and a half to an action-packed lacrosse practice.
She also spends at least a couple of hours a week voluteering at Assets for Routt County. Assets for Routt County is a community -service organization that creates programs to develop values in children and encourages children to treat others with respect.
By participating in this organization, Weaver has helped implement various programs at the high school, including the program that gives $5 in Chamber Bucks to students who demonstrate courtesy and respect. She also helped organize the drug and alcohol survey at the high school last year. When she is not working on programs, she travels around to different organizations in the community and educates them about the work that Assets for Routt County does.
"I just have a lot of different interests, and I am very motivated to explore them," Weaver said. "Plus, I have a hard time saying 'No' to people," she added with a laugh.
During a year when the stereotypical senior relaxes, "slacks off," and partys, Weaver is getting burned out because of her extensive involvement in school and activities.
"I always get burned out towards the end of the year, but this year it's coming early," she said. "Calculus and speech team are especially overwhelming."
Although Weaver may be an extreme example, high school seniors with her level of involvement are becoming more common.
Take senior Nissa Carlson for example; she has been involved in cross country, basketball, and track this year, she has three college level classes, and she is president of the school's National Honor Society.
"Students are starting to do different things their senior year," said Gayle Dudley, vocational director and teacher at the high school. "They are finding activities and opportunities that they are interested in, such as internships in the community, and they are taking advantage of them because it may be their last chance to do so."
Many other students are taking initiative by enrolling in college level classes. According to school records, 316 high school seniors are enrolled in advanced placement classes. This means most of the 159 seniors are taking at least two advanced placement classes.
"This is the first year we have ever had to have two calculus classes at the high school because there are so many students taking the course," said Ron Shnackenberg, a math teacher at the high school. "We have 31 students taking calculus this semester, that's about 15 more than usual."
Bill McKelvie, the advanced placement U.S. history teacher, is in the same situation.
"I actually had to offer two U.S. history classes this year because of the high number of students enrolled," he said.
The senior class is actively involved in sports as well; out of 159 students, 45 participate in sports.
So far this year, seniors have been proving their athletic prowess as well as their academic: boys soccer, girls volleyball, boys tennis and boys basketball have all made it to at least the first round of state competition.
Add the college and scholarship application processes on top of homework and sports practice, and many seniors are feeling the weight of a heavy schedule.
"I definitely did not imagine that my senior year would be this busy when I was a freshman," said senior John Hottenroth, who plays soccer, is involved in Assets for Routt County and the leadership class, and has a grade point average above a 4.0. "I just keep getting involved in more activities. It's hard to say 'No.'"
Many students aren't joking when they say they have to pencil fellow classmates into their day planners just to make time to chat.
Senior Ashley Rogers said her point of view about her senior year has changed since she was a freshman: "Senior year is definitely not as laid back as it used to be," she said. "People are starting to take harder courses and taking part in new activities, partly because they realize it's their last year to do this."
Rogers herself is involved in basketball and tennis and maintains a grade point average above a 4.0.
She has also been involved in various community service projects through her leadership class, such as the Kids Carnival, and the "Spring Fling," a week of activities at the high school that resembles homecoming activities, with dress-up days and class competitions.
As for Weaver, next year she said she is ready to take a highly deserved break and kick back a little.
After receiving the coveted Boettcher scholarship, Weaver has decided to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder to possibly study molecular biology, and has applied to the honors program at the university.
Weaver said she intends to participate in an intramural lacrosse or cross country league, the President's Leadership Class, and RAP, which is a program centered around community service.
"I'm planning on doing fewer activities in college," she said. "I'm going to relax a little and really focus on the activities I am involved in."
Of course, there will always be students who view senior year as a time to cut back and let loose.
"I think there will always be students who see senior year as the time to take a break after three years of high school,"
Andrew Litzau, a senior at the high school agrees.
"Right now I think it's about half and half," he said. "Half the kids get really involved and the other half see senior year as a time to slack off."
However, Dudley also said that students are finding that it is an opportunity to explore the things that really interest them, and get more involved in their community.
"Students do start becoming more noticeably involved in the community when they are seniors," added Litzau, who is involved in the leadership class, which sponsored activities such as Challenge Day at the middle shool and high school, does tech work for all the school productions, and works 30 hours a week as a cook at Pisa's Pizza and Pasta. "Especially because they are starting to get jobs."
Dudley said the high school is working to open up more opportunities to students by getting them out in the community through mentorship and internship programs.
"We firmly hope and believe that the senior experience is changing," she said. "We want senior year to be a time for students to really develop their skills, abilities and interests."