Staying busy but finding time for piano
WESTON Alexis Abrego doesn’t believe in letting life pass her by.

That’s evidenced by her daily schedule, which starts at 5 a.m. with an hour’s worth of piano practice, and often doesn’t end until evening.

The senior at D.C. Everest Senior High School, who carries a 3.99 GPA, has earned three academic letters, racked up eight honor roll semesters and is a member of the National Honor Society.
Alexis Abrego

Age: 17
Residence: Wausau
School: D.C. Everest Senior High School
Parents: Pablo and Cynthia Abrego
College Plans: Will attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she received the Chancellor's Scholarship. She will major in either biochemistry or microbiology and a minor in Spanish.
Hobbies: Reading, swimming

School keeps Alexis busy from 7:45 a.m. until 2:45 p.m., then the 17-year-old either heads to the YMCA to teach swimming or lifeguarding, goes to a piano lesson, or stays at school for a meeting of one of the many clubs to which she belongs.

One of them is the Oral History Project, or OHP, which compiles a book on a different historical topic each year. Right now, the group is focusing on veterans from World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

“I have learned that history is not a collection of dates and facts,” Alexis said in an essay submitted with her Academic All Star application. “It is a compilation of stories, of voices, of people who lived and died in our past that shape our future.”

Alexis also keeps busy as a Bible quizzer and student leader for Awana, performs piano programs for seniors at the Primrose Retirement Community and is a member of Students Modeling a Research Topic, or SMART. This year she said the SMART team is studying the plant toxin ricin.

D.C. Everest Senior High School Principal Thomas Johansen said Alexis has made a positive and significant impact on her fellow students and members of the community.

“She is one of those special students who engages in multiple school activities, serves in leadership positions, fills her schedule with our most rigorous classes, takes time to provide service to the school and the community, and is still one of the most pleasant and polite individuals you will ever meet,” Johansen said.

Alexis, who was home-schooled until eighth grade, has narrowed her college choices to the University of Wisconsin, University of Minnesota or the University of Chicago. She plans to pursue a major in either microbiology or biochemistry with a minor in Spanish, with a long-term goal of being a pathologist.

Her favorite classes include AP science, AP English and AP history.

As for that piano playing — which she’s been doing since kindergarten — Alexis said her favorite part is expressing emotion.

“I’m more into the passion of it versus the technical,” she said. “I really enjoy being able to throw those emotions forward and changing different rhythms and beats and measures and loudness/softness to be able to get all of the expression out of one song.”

So maybe it’s not surprising that her new favorite song to pound out is the frenetic “Flight of the Bumblebee.”

“It’s a really, really fast song,” Alexis said. “It’s going up and down, lots of chromatic scales, which is a really exciting thing to play.”

Alexis credits piano teacher Kathy Dix as being one of her main influences.

“She teaches me not only the piano but she gives me advice on other things — school or moral concepts,” Alexis said, “which is really helpful in developing character as much as developing piano skills.”

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