Ryan Mills is a busy young man. The 15-year-old Ashland High School sophomore is juggling speech and debate, academics and theater. With his help, the AHS speech and debate team recently won the all-around Sweepstakes Championship Award at Willamette University. With so many activities, Mills still manages to stay on the honor roll, hang out with his friends, and be warm and friendly to reporters who want to know how he does it all.
While Mills speaks fondly of his mother's ability to multitask, his mother, Leslie Mills, expresses her pride over his abilities.
"Ryan has worked hard at balancing his academics with his involvement in both drama and speech and debate. It's a lot to juggle, and he's maintained his sense of humor. We are very proud of him," she said.
Between activities, Mills spoke with the Daily Tidings about school, his outside interests and his gift for time management.
DT: What are your favorite subjects in school?
RM: U.S. history and English. Right now, I'm taking advanced-placement U.S. history with Mr. Huard. It is really interesting to learn about history, and how our country got started. And with our elections and everything it is great to see ways in which history repeats itself. And I really just like English because it has always appealed to me more than math or science. It's not as formal or as uniform as math and science.
DT: Do you have a favorite book?
RM: In English, we're reading "Huck Finn" right now, which is one of my favorite books. It is really interesting. When I was in first-grade, I dressed up as Huck Finn for Halloween. I just love the character.
DT: Talk about doing speech and debate.
RM: I love it. It takes a lot of my time, but it is really fun. I go to most of the tournaments, which range everywhere from Stanford to Whitman College in Walla-Walla, Wash. I did a dramatic interpretation for the tournaments, where I basically interpreted a book called "Give a Boy a Gun," which is about school shootings. The tournaments are a lot of fun, and I also debate.
DT: Tell us about your drama work.
RM: I've been in two plays at AHS. I was in "Beauty and the Beast" last year. This year, I'm the male understudy for every male role in "A Company of Wayward Saints." That was a lot of work, and hard at first to grasp that I wasn't really going to be in it much, but it was great working with the actors and director and being able to adapt to all the characters as I got to play them.
DT: What do you want to do after you graduate high school?
RM: I'm definitely going to college, and then I want to go to law school and be a trial lawyer.
DT: Tell me something you have done that makes you proud.
RM: Well, at the last tournament, I cut this piece for a dramatic interpretation, and I had just done it a week before. I was nervous about it, but I got first place for it, out of a lot of kids there. That felt really good.
DT: Talk about something that was especially challenging in your life.
RM: I would say right now is one of the hardest times. I have had to manage a lot of stuff. Not just my social life, but also U.S. history, debate, the school play and late-night rehearsals, and I have two tournaments one after the other. I also have to keep up with all my studies and I have to do my homework. It gets difficult to balance it all and sometimes I have to stay up late, but I'm pretty good at time management. I can handle it. I think. (laughs)
DT: Tell us about someone at school who makes you proud.
RM: My friend Lee. He's a really cool guy. He's very smart and really good at math. He is always there if you want to talk or something.
DT: Talk about someone in your family who makes you proud.
RM: My mom. She multitasks very well. She takes me to school, picks me up, and helps me even when I have play practice till after 10 at night. She's really quite good. She's great, just great.