It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Oh wait, it’s Ames High’s very own senior Irina Popova! How she could have been mistaken for a bird or a plane is beyond me. Although incapable of physical flight, Popova aims to soar above the rest, both in and out of class. As a student, Popova maintains a 3.85 GPA while taking several AP classes. In addition to the challenging courses she takes at the high school, Popova takes college courses at ISU, Physics 221 (Introduction to Classical Physics) and Math 265 (Calculus III). Because of her interest in the sciences, Popova plans to pursue engineering after high school. "I look at the USA News and World Report for the best schools in engineering," Popova said. "I also kind of want to get out of Iowa and just go to a different area." Popova’s college considerations include Massachussetts Institute of Technology, Texas A&M, and Purdue University, among others. In addition to her academic strength, Popova dedicates much of her time to other school activities. Her impressive extra-curricular repertoire includes being a student ambassador, a senior mentor, and a member of National Honor Society. She is also a member of the Story County Youth Philanthropists. However, Popova’s busy schedule does impose some restrictions. "I can’t attend [SHEPH and Key Club] like I wanted to this semester because of ISU courses," Popova said. "But I will start going again next semester." As if her schedule wasn’t busy enough, Popova still manages to have a life outside of school. She is an avid dancer, her interest lying mostly in ballroom dancing. Ballroom caught her interest in the summer of 2004, when she enrolled in a ballroom class at Robert Thomas Dancecenter. "That was my first experience with ballroom, and I really liked it," Popova said. "So I decided to continue with it." Up to this day, Popova dances year-round, and participates in Cyclone Ballroom Dancing as part of their competition team. She hopes to continue with ballroom through college. However, Popova’s dancing skills are not limited to ballroom. A renaissance woman of dancing, she also has experience in Irish dancing and ballet (specifically pointe). However, she had to discontinue her participation in those because she didn’t have enough time for them. In addition to her dancing, Popova also used to be in gymnastics. For the same reason mentioned above, she had to quit last year after 9 years of flipping and twirling. It may be hard to believe, but Popova is living proof that one can excel academically while having a life outside of school. Whether it be dancing, playing the clarinet, volunteering for the community, or just being really smart, Popova is sure to leave her mark at Ames High.