Blooming Prairie High School seniors Payton Simon and Rachael Oswald are both immersed in humility as they react to their selection as a Triple "A" award winner.
The Triple "A" award is a competition sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League.
Owald and Simon are prime examples of high achieving students involved in a number of school activities outside of athletics and fine arts, said Mary Worke, senior high counselor.
Both Simon and Oswald are local winners. They did not advance at the sub-section and section level.
"To me, the award symbolizes hard work, dedication and good time management," remarks Simon, 18.
"It's like a blessing to live in this community; people have given us so much and now it is my turn to give back by doing the best I can," said Oswald.
The Triple "A" winners agreed that the Blooming Prairie community is "amazing" in the way it responds with support for those in need. "It's so easy to succeed when everyone wants you to succeed," Simon said.
Both will receive their awards at the halftime of the Blooming Prairie-PEM girls basketball game on Thursday, Feb. 7.
Simon is the son of Amy and Jeremy Simon. Oswald is the daughter of Kathy Paukner and Phil Oswald.
Purpose of the Triple "A" award is to recognize and honor high school seniors who have excelled in the classroom, on the athletic field, and in the fine arts.
The program also is designed to elevate academic standards and create greater awareness of League-sponsored activities and their values.
Triple "A" provides member schools of the Minnesota State High School League with the opportunity to participate in a statewide program that supports, promotes, and recognizes academic and extra-curricular achievements.
Candidates for this award must have a strong Grade Point Average and must participate in League-sponsored athletic activities and fine arts activities.
Simon is a three-sport participant in football, wrestling and baseball. He did not go out for wrestling this year, however, due to health concerns.
On the arts side, Simon and Oswald helped run a blood drive for the BP Honor Society. Both also participated in high school musicals, "Legally Blonde" and "The Wizard of Oz."
Simon also participated in the chamber choir. He serves as a volunteer at the BP Elementary School, tutoring fifth graders in reading. "It's fun and rewarding and I remember when I was in second grade, my uncle mentored to me," he shared.
Oswald was chosen Homecoming Queen last fall. Simon was a candidate for king.
Since seventh grade, Oswald has been a member of the Blooming Prairie Future Farmers of America. She recently was part of a small animals team in FFA competition. Her team made it to state. Other team members were Courtney Espe, Riley Millam, Paul Sunde and Micah Donnelly.
She also competed in sports, volleyball and track. "Now, I watch my younger sister play basketball; it's fun."
Oswald attended Girls State, courtesy of the BP American Legion Auxiliary. She also participated in FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) and helped package CARE gifts for military service men and women. It's called Operation Gratitude.
Both winners have GPA's over 4.0. They have their eyes on college and have taken college classes in high school.
Looking at the final months of their senior year, Simon and Oswald know their lives will change. "I plan to soak it up as a senior since college is coming quick," commented Simon. "I have to step out of my comfort zone because life will change in college," interjected Oswald.
Principal John Worke praised both of the award winners for their drive to be successful. "Their work ethic plays an important role in their success," Worke believes.
"Both Payton and Rachael have shown great leadership over the years and they have left a positive impression with many," Worke continued.