His stepmother, Heidi Patterson, said Taylor's ability to strike such a fine balance did not come easy to him.

Balance is the key to Taylor Patterson's success, both in and out of school. The Ashland High junior works hard each term to manage his school work, spend time with friends and family and do all the other activities he enjoys.

His stepmother, Heidi Patterson, said Taylor's ability to strike such a fine balance did not come easy to him.

"He struggled in school," she said. "He had to learn to manage his time and his workload, but he was determined. It's awesome to see what he can do now."

Bill Gabriel, one of Patterson's teachers, agreed.

"Taylor is a great kid," he said. "He's delightful. He is the kind of kid who always finds the best in something. I feel lucky to have him as a student."

In addition to a heavy academic load, Taylor is also a member of the AHS crew team and an editor for the school's Rogue News newspaper. Outside school, he enjoys playing guitar and hanging out with his large family, especially his two younger brothers. The busy, but not too stressed, student recently granted the Daily Tidings an interview, and still got his homework done on time.

DT: What are your favorite subjects in school?

TP: I really like history. I like seeing how we've progressed as a society, a civilization. Heidi sparked that in me; she has always been into history. Writing is one of my favorite things to do, so my English class and Rogue News are also my favorite classes. This is my first year with the paper, though I had a journalism class last year. I'm the editor for the quad-life section. I'll help the designers and get people to write stories and I'll write stories, too. I'm pretty excited and pretty confident that I can do it.

DT: How did you come to like writing so much?

TP: I used to hate writing until after seventh-grade. I was home-schooled for the end of seventh-grade and over the summer. Heidi made me write every day. I had to write about news articles, and I had to read in a book and write about certain things. I don't know — I started getting better at it, and when eighth-grade came around, I started getting more and more complements on my writing. I also felt more comfortable and then I started liking it and wanting to do it more often.

DT: Tell us about someone at school who inspires you.

TP: Bill Gabriel is one of my favorite teachers. I'm actually taking three of his classes right now. I like the way he teaches and his relationship with all his students. He can joke around, and he can be pretty scary at times, and he can throw quite a work load on you, but he is still one of my favorite teachers.

DT: What do you like to do outside of school?

TP: I normally like to play soccer, but I couldn't fit it into my schedule. I'm taking two AP classes and I figured it would be too stressful. I'd end up not playing soccer because my grades would fail. I decided to do crew, instead. I'd never done it before, but I really like it. I've only been to three practices, but I feel like part of the team already.

DT: Do you still have trouble balancing school and your outside interests?

TP: Oh yeah, all the time. My social life really suffers when school starts. I try to work that in while I'm in school and hang out with people during lunch, before school, after school. Family plays a big part, too. I'm one of six kids. I help out with my little brothers and spend a lot of time with my family.

DT: What do you want to do when you graduate high school?

TP: I always wanted to be a musician. I had hoped that would get me somewhere, but I seriously doubt it will. I'd like to work the music into whatever I do. I'm thinking of maybe becoming a teacher, but really at this point I don't know. I've been looking at other people seeing what they are doing, seeing if they are happy with their family and their lives.

DT: Talk about something you have done that makes you proud.

TP: Before I was home-schooled, I didn't do well in school, I didn't really care about it, but after that I was really proud that I was able to pull it all together and finally get good grades. And my parents kind of looked at me in a different way after that, just because I was able to pull it all together.

DT: Talk about something that is challenging for you.

TP: The fact that I'm taking two advanced placement classes is kind of stressful to think about so far. We already have homework. When I think of everything I have going on and thinking about college and what to do with my life it still worries me, but I have to remind myself to slow down.

DT: Tell us about someone in your family who makes you proud.

TP: My dad. When we lived in Montague, he always had night shifts and we didn't see him a lot. But when we moved to Ashland and he got a new job, we got to see him more and he seemed happier and I just want to be that way when I grow up.

DT: Do you have any advice for students who are struggling with finding balance in school and life?

TP: I'd say don't worry too much and remind yourself what is most important. For me, when I remind myself what is most important, I make time for those things like being with my family, playing with my little brothers.