The other issue to check is whether the school/district uses a weighted grading scheme. If honors and/or AP courses are weighted, then they have a big impact on class rank and that is important. Some of my kids attended schools where a 3.0 average (with no honors or APs) was in the lower half of the class because the top kids took ALL academic classes at honors level or better. The guidance counselors told incoming freshmen that no one took more than one or two honors classes at a time, which was blatantly false. The very top also took 8-10 AP classes (all of which had honors prerequisites), so they affected the junior GPA. Also, if the school profile (which is sent to colleges with all transcripts, which include GPA and class rank) indicates that APs are offered, not taking them usually hurts. I'd say to take every possible period of REAL classes unless there's a real need for a study hall (like a swimmer/gymnast etc who trains 5 hours a day).
It is also a plus to have significant extracurriculars, especially with leadership. One or two serious commitments with leadership is better than light involvement with a long list of things, in my experience. A lot depends on the high school/community - how big, how competitive, urban/rural/suburban, etc. Of course, what kind of college is planned has a huge impact. I remember an info session (many years ago) for out-of-staters at UNC Chapel Hill where a National Merit Semi-finalist with a 4.0 GPA was told (publicly, no less) that she had no chance of admittance because she had no APs. The various college guides can be very helpful in identifying characteristics of admits.
My kids attended 4 very competitive to highly competitive high schools in three states and their experience leads me to recommend that the guidance counselor is useless until proven otherwise (see comment above). I have never met one that seemed to have much interest in or knowledge of academics; their interests were all social/emotional.
If your block schedule means that a year's course is done in one semester (with double periods), the issue of forgetting previous material can be an issue, especially in math and foreign languages. He also did extra reading in history because he didn't think they really covered a full year. Fortunately, we moved after two years.
Also, it is not necessary to take and AP course in order to take the test; just get a study guide and whatever other materials look helpful.