High school accomplishments huge for Triple ‘A’ winners

They’re the best of the best.

Four Minnesota high school seniors earned Triple-A honors for a combination of academics, arts and athletics.

Madeline Ngo of Simley High, Caiden Swenby of Fertile-Beltrami, Teagan Stark of Minnewaska Area, and Paul Fasen of Monticello High are almost all perfect students.

"I have a 4.0 GPA in an unweighted system," Paul said.

And if not perfect, they know which in a long list of challenging courses kept them from perfection.

"I got a B-plus in a college sociology class," Caiden said.

To win Triple 'A', they also have to demonstrate excellence outside of the classroom.

"I do a little bit of everything," Teagan said.

For her, that means track, cross-country, band, choir, jazz choir, National Honor society, student council, and working as a nursing assistant.

"Cross-country in the fall, swimming in the winter, and then track and field in the spring," Paul said.

He went to state in all three of his sports, sings in the choir, does musical theater, and plays the alto sax in at least a couple school bands.

Madeline captains the swim team and competes in Nordic skiing, but it’s in band where she finds peace in a hectic schedule.

"It's kind of like a comfort to me when I play my instrument," she said. "I know that I can just leave all my thoughts behind and focus on my instrument."

Each of their schools nominated them for Triple 'A', then they were selected among 32 regional winners before one final selection at a Minnesota State High School League banquet last month.

"Everyone sounds so accomplished, and they've done so much that it was daunting," Teagan said.

Winning shocked all four of them, but in Caiden’s case, the timing of the surprise was perfect. He found out just as his team lost the state basketball championship.

"I was a little sad about losing but then he told me this and I'm like well it's hard to be sad when I just won a really big award," he said.

He was also the school’s quarterback and he’d have some Triple-A advice for younger kids in the huddle.

"It's just 'be involved in as many things as you can,'" he said.

Teachers say they all lead by example, like Madeline does every time she picks up her clarinet. Where she goes, her band teacher thinks more might follow.

"They go, ‘Wow, I can actually do that next year, or be involved in these types of things and become what Madeleine and has achieved and done,'" said Kevin Robinson.

This year’s winners get $4,000 scholarships as they head to college where they’re all practically sophomores already.