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There are the predictable cliques, and Justin, a cross between Ferris Bueller and Bruce Jenner, moves effortlessly among them. "We all love Justin," says senior Ashley Jorstad. "He isn't stuck up." Last September, Justin won the student council presidency in a landslide.
If the acceptance of his peers were a higher priority for Justin, he would long ago have succumbed to their frequent entreaties to "get nailed." Says one senior, "Drinking beer is about 90 percent of what there is to do around here on weekends." After the state championship game, most of the football team celebrated at a keg party. Justin spent the night at home with his convictions. His rejection of drugs and alcohol—"I have never experimented and don't intend to," he says—are at least in part a reaction to having witnessed the trials of his older brother, Jason, a member of Manitou Springs' class of '87. Jason twice went through rehabilitation for substance abuse and did not graduate with his class. He has since gotten a handle on his life and is taking courses at Colorado State.
"He's worked really hard to get it back together," says Justin. "That has been a very positive influence on me."
"Justin has not had a storybook life, by any means," says Diana Kelting, his English literature and French teacher. "But he is so talented, he has success at everything he attempts. I don't know how a mélange like that occurs. It's just gross."
Justin has had classes with Kelting every day since ninth grade. Reputed to be the school's toughest grader, she gave Justin the only B of his high school career, in ninth-grade English. It was a quarter grade, however, and Justin earned an A for the semester; he carries a perfect 4.0 to this day. Kelting has dozens of Justin Armour stories. "But if I could only give you one," she says, "this would be it, because it shows what kind of guy he is: When he was in 10th grade, I took my French II class outside to play blindfolded tag in which they have to use French words to identify each player. The boy who was 'it' just couldn't catch anyone. The laughing got louder and louder. His frustration level was just sky-high."
Kelting was seconds away from having a sobbing adolescent male on her hands. "Then I noticed Justin drifting toward the middle of the circle," recalls Kelting. "He just sort of let himself get tagged. I know it was a little thing. But he's always doing things like that. He is aware, almost unconsciously, of everyone's feelings."
For Justin, third period is calculus. As the teacher, Terry Sloan, writes a solution to a homework problem on the chalkboard, Justin spots an error and quietly points it out. Sloan makes the correction.
"I'm probably a little stronger at math and science than English and the arts," says Justin on the way to his next class, personal finance. Here, students pair off and run make-believe pen companies. At the end of the semester, the "executives" of the most profitable company go to lunch with the teacher. Early in the fiscal year, Justin and his business partner, Nissa Weeks, poured too much money into research and development and into marketing. Now, to the delight of the leaders, Justin and Nissa are in fifth place.
"Justin, $40 a pen?" asks Brian Manly. "You're kidding, right? Who's going to spend $40 on a pen?"
"We're selling the public the best pen money can buy," Justin answers. "This is an ethics question. You guys are sticking it to your customers with those junky pens."