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Trevor Canty and Lily Dyre each juggle a slew of Advanced Placement classes.

Yet that's not the toughest thing that at least Canty has juggled — bananas have that honor.

“They’re very difficult,” the West High senior said, citing their odd shape.

Both Canty and Dyre, of Senior High, have been able to carve out time for their own interests amid demanding academic schedules, something that helped them become two of six semi-finalists from Montana for the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program.

People sometimes think that busy high school students are overwhelmed, stressed and don’t take time to smell the flowers.

Or, as Dyre put it, “also making time for the things you enjoy so you don’t go crazy.”

In addition to participating in Senior’s Platinum Program, an academic track that requires students to take the school’s toughest classes, Dyre runs cross country and plays tennis, plays the flute and participates in several other activities.

“I think you really have to learn to make priorities for yourself,” she said. “I’ve had a ton of fun.”

Dyre would like to go to college at the University of Southern California or at Santa Clara University and study a medical field.

“I think it’s a place with a lot of great innovation,” she said of California.

Canty will be headed to the Heartland next year when he attends Notre Dame, where he plans to study both English and math — two rarely combined subjects.

“The further you go back in history, the more intertwined math and English are,” he said, noting classical scientists who often dabbled in philosophy. “There’s that immediate satisfaction of getting a (math) problem done (and) writing a paper is a process you’re thinking about constantly. I think it is a good balance.”

Canty throws javelin in track and field, and participates in speech and debate and other activities.

His specialty in speech and debate is preparing a five-minute speech in only three minutes that analyzes and takes a position on a quote or political cartoon.

“Being able to speak in front of anyone at anytime, anywhere is such a valuable skill,” he said.

Dyre and Canty found out they were semifinalists earlier this month. Up to about 160 students are selected as finalists. The program isn’t a scholarship, but a recognition of high school achievement. Awardees get a trip to Washington, D.C., where they get insider access to political and historical institutions.

“It’s kind of a group that stays together for a long time, from what I’ve read about it,” Dyre said.

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Education Reporter

Education reporter for the Billings Gazette.