Peterson surprised with top student awardGood grades, leading to acceptance to Harvard and eight other schools, check. A strong artistic background, check. Competing in athletics at a high level, check.
Good grades, leading to acceptance to Harvard and eight other schools, check.
A strong artistic background, check.
Competing in athletics at a high level, check.
She met the criteria, but Two Harbors High School senior Sonja Peterson didn’t think she could win the top Minnesota State High School League Triple “A” Award last Saturday. Unlike some of her competitors, she did not have a two-minute speech prepared for a Saturday night banquet.
But perhaps she and her father, as they drove all night from Kansas City, had an inkling. True to her biography, Peterson wasn’t going to let the school band down by skipping its annual spring break trip. “I didn’t want to back out,” she said.
She went with the band and, on Friday, Tom, her dad, picked her up for a long ride back to Minneapolis. “While I drove I wondered if it made sense,” Tom Peterson said.
“He did it because he’s awesome,” Sonja said. She admits she slept most of the time.
In the end, it did make sense. She winged her acceptance speech at the banquet before the public announcement at Target Center in front of a state boys basketball tournament crowd and a television audience.
“I looked at the other kids’ biographies and I thought ‘How could she win this?’ ” Tom Peterson said.
It’s been a heady year for Peterson, whose sports prowess and academic standing have colleges clamoring for her. While one would think she should jump at the chance to go to Harvard, its one of many schools. “She hasn’t been there yet,” Tom Peterson said. She wants to know if she’d like the Ivy League school and its Boston surroundings.
She’s also thinking of going to her parents’ alma mater, St. Olaf in Northfield.
She maintains that the award was a big surprise.
“I’m really well balanced,” Peterson said of her achievements at THHS, but “these people [her competitors] are crazy. Some of them went to state like six times.”
Peterson competes in Nordic skiing, cross country running, track, band and choir, while keeping a 4.0 grade-point-average.
“Sonja is the first student from THHS to be named an overall state winner, and she is very deserving because of how she excels in all three areas – academics, arts, and athletics,” said Scott Ross, Two Harbors High School athletic and activities director. “This is the top award a student can receive from the MSHSL, and we congratulate Sonja on winning this award.”
According to the Minnesota State High School League, the award, established in 1988, recognizes and rewards high school seniors from across the state for their achievements in the classroom, the arts and athletics. To qualify for the award, students must have a “B” or better grade-point-average and participate in League-sponsored athletic and fine arts activities.
League member schools are invited to nominate two students – a boy and a girl – for the award. Award recipients are selected through a multi-level process involving the League’s administrative regions and a committee of athletic, fine arts and educational leaders.
“The Triple ‘A’ Award is one of the most coveted awards presented to students in Minnesota,” said Jody Redman, associate director of the Minnesota State High School League. “Since its inception in 1988, nearly 11,000 students have represented their school in the Triple ‘A’ program.”
Four Minnesota high school students from two classes, based on school size, were honored during the ceremony Saturday.
“She is the seventh Section 7A winner from Two Harbors in the 22 years that the award has been in existence,” Ross said. “That is impressive when you consider that there are around 35 schools.” Peterson’s sister, Kira, was also a section winner.
Each student will receive a four-year, $1,000 college scholarship from the League. Peterson said she is interested in numerous subjects, but French and international studies are on the top of her list.