Students earn Triple A honors
Every year, one young man and one young woman are selected from the senior class at area schools and given the honor of Triple A recipient.
The award is given to students who excel in arts, academics and athletics.
Ben Hernes and Emma Koehler are this year’s Triple A winners at Fairmont Area Schools, having been selected from 140 students in this year’s senior class.
Both students were told they had earned the honor by activities director Mat Mahoney, though they were selected by a committee comprised of several teachers and guidance counselors at the school.
Hernes, the son of Mark and Michelle Hernes, has been involved in soccer, cross country and tennis, which he’s played since sixth grade. He also helped out with tennis camp in the summer.
Koehler, daughter of Melanie Koehler, has been on the track and cross country teams throughout high school. She went to state her sophomore and senior years.
As for the arts, both Hernes and Koehler have been on the speech team since they were in seventh grade. They happen to be co-captains this year and will perform a duo together for the first time. Both students also have competed at state multiple times.
They were both cast in “Into the Woods,” the school’s fall musical. Koehler was a part of the school musical her junior and senior year while Hernes has been in it every year since seventh grade. Hernes also has been in almost all of the school’s winter plays since he was in seventh grade.
Hernes plays the trumpet and has been in band since fifth grade. He also participated in choir and has been in several large group ensembles that have received superior and excellent ratings.
Koehler plays the violin and has been in orchestra since fifth grade. Koehler has performed three solo ensembles in which she was awarded superior ratings. She also been a part of large group ensembles that have received superior ratings.
When it comes to academics, both students have been taking a lot of College In the School (CIS) classes as well as Honors classes.
Koehler has taken CIS classes in physics, chemistry, world history, composition, honors economics, honors English 11 and honors Spanish 4. She also helped tutor ELL students. While Koehler loves all of her English classes and is an avid reader, she also has a passion for art.
“I really enjoy art,” she said. “Unfortunately I haven’t been able to take classes (in school) because my schedule is so full. I still paint and draw on my own.”
Hernes has taken CIS classes in anatomy and physiology, chemistry, world history and composition. He also has taken some PSEO online classes through Minnesota West.
“I kind of like anatomy, which is crazy. It’s by far the hardest class I’ve ever taken,” Hernes admitted.
Koehler plans to attend the University of South Dakota and major in English, with a minor in Spanish.
Hernes is deciding between Bethel University and the University of Minnesota and is thinking about going into the medical field, though he is not sure yet.
Outside of school, both students are busy with other activities.
Hernes works at Jake’s Pizza and is a lifeguard at the Aquatic Park during the summer. He has done the polar plunge the last three years and has helped organize the blood drive at the school twice per year since he was a sophomore. He also has been involved in Kids Against Hunger, having helped with the packs in the past and organizing this year’s concert along with another student. He is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, is in Project Trust, and has been in student council since seventh grade. This year, Hernes was elected study body president.
Koehler is a cook at the Channel Inn and has been involved in Girl Scouts since she was 5 years old. She received the Girl Scout Gold Award this year, the highest achievement a Girl Scout can earn. She has been on the robotics team at the school since she was in eighth grade, and even organized and led a robotics science camp for girls this past summer.
Both students expressed how fortunate they have been to have the support of teachers, classmates and teammates. They also both have older siblings who graduated from Fairmont High School who they have been able to look up to.
“Anna is a big reason why I’m considering the medical route,” Hernes said of his older sister, who is going to Bethel University for nursing. “She has also given me advice throughout high school.”
“I first heard about robotics from Josh,” Koehler said, mentioning her older brother. “One of the most impactful things for me that my brother steered me toward was cross country, and cross country absolutely changed my life so I’m really grateful for that.”