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Worthington High School Triple A award winners Ariana Lopez and Will Dudley are involved seniors at the school. (BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE)

Lopez, Dudley honored for academic, arts and athletics achievements at WHS

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Lopez, Dudley honored for academic, arts and athletics achievements at WHS
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON — Locating the Worthington High School (WHS) 2014 Triple “A” award recipients is as easy as attending a school concert, musical theater performance or boys’ basketball game.

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Any of those venues, among several others, will be sure to include seniors Ariana Lopez and/or Will Dudley, the WHS female and male representatives, respectively, of the Minnesota State High School League’s (MSHSL) academics, arts and athletics award.

“I feel really honored,” said Lopez of her selection. “I know there were a lot of good candidates.”

Josh Dale, District 518 activities director, concurs.

“It’s pretty amazing how well-rounded the Worthington student body is,” Dale said. “Ari and Will were chosen from a good group of candidates, and they stood out above the rest of them.

“We were looking for kids who are involved in all the different types of activities.”

Dudley and Lopez certainly fill that bill.

Lopez, a flutist, has been part of the WHS band throughout high school, and she serves as a color guard section leader for marching band. She also was in the WHS choir as a freshman, and, at her local church, sings in the choir and occasionally plays her flute.

Lopez is in her second year on the WHS speech team (this year she’s performing in the prose and great speeches categories, and is a team captain) and will appear from Feb. 6-9 in her third WHS musical, “The Wizard of Oz” — playing against type as the Wicked Witch.

During his freshman and sophomore years, Dudley was in the WHS band (as a trumpeter); he’s continued to play viola (first chair) in the WHS orchestra throughout high school, and is a baritone in the WHS Concert Choir, as well as being a four-year member of the select male ensemble, VOX. After auditioning last spring, Dudley was chosen as an alternate for the Minnesota All-State Choir. He is also an accomplished pianist.

Athletically, Lopez is a four-year letter winner in both cross country and track.

“I usually do the distance races in track,” she mentioned.

Dudley is a stellar three-sport athlete. A current captain of the WHS boys’ basketball team, he first lettered in basketball as a sophomore, when he was happy to be part of the state-qualifying WHS team. 

Additionally, Dudley was a captain of the WHS football team as a junior and senior, a three-year football letter winner and the recipient of several football honors (Defensive and Special Teams Player of the Year as a junior, Offensive and Most Valuable Player of the Year as a senior). 

Still, Dudley reserved his top athletic achievements for track, in which he has lettered since seventh grade: three-year All-Conference, school record holder in pole vault and the fourth-place finisher in the 2013 Minnesota Class AA track meet — not to mention an Academic All-State awardee in both track and football.

Academically, both Lopez and Dudley rank toward the very tip-top of their class, with each having earned several Student of Excellence quarterly academic certificates during their high school careers. 

Both have taken challenging Advanced Placement (AP) classes and exams, and coincidentally, both are considering careers in engineering.

“Math and reading have been my favorite subjects,” shared Dudley, whose “most likely” destination next year is the University of Nebraska, where his intended major is biological systems engineering.

“I’ve always wanted to do something with engineering, and I think it will offer the most flexibility for what I can do after four years,” he added.

Lopez, meanwhile, has settled on the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, S.D., after spending a week there last summer at a chemical/biological engineering camp.

“I really lean toward math and science classes, and I want to major in chemical engineering,” Lopez said.

Lopez is the secretary of the WHS STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) club, as well as vice-president of the WHS National Honor Society chapter, co-president of the WHS Student Council and secretary for the WHS Class of 2014.

Dudley is also a National Honor Society member, served on the WHS Link Crew in 2013 and was an active member of the Elk Tip Toppers 4-H Club through ninth grade. Like Lopez, he occasionally helps with special music at his church, and assists with the sound system there.

“I’ve always felt supported at school, and I’ve never had any issues with teachers or coaches for missing something when I’ve been involved in a different activity,” said Dudley, the son of Steve and Lori Dudley. “It’s not always been easy to balance everything, but it’s been doable.

“I’d love to thank my parents for pushing me and motivating me to succeed in many areas, and to cultivate my interests in different things. I want to do as much as I can in college, just like in high school, and keep learning from my experiences.”

Lopez, whose parents are Julie and Jorge Lopez, echoes those sentiments.

“My family has been a major support system, along with a couple of long-lasting friendships, and it’s always nice to have people to turn to for help,” Lopez said. “The teachers at the high school are really supportive and have encouraged me to do whatever I put my mind to doing.”

Ironically, Lopez’s involvement in the WHS musical may prevent her from attending at the Region 2AA Triple “A” banquet on Feb. 9, where she and Dudley will be recognized and where a boy and girl from that region will be named to advance to the statewide Triple “A” competition. (Dudley’s older brother, Quentin, WHS Class of 2007, is the only WHS representative to date to be a statewide Triple “A” award recipient, and only two other WHS alums so far — Chad Vaske ’06 and Gordy Moore ’13 — have been regional winners.)

Nevertheless, Lopez offers this thought to other aspiring students: “I really wish I’d gotten involved with more things sooner,” she advised. “I wish I’d been in the musical as a freshman, started speech sooner and volunteered more earlier.

“Keep joining stuff because it really pays off in the end.”

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