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Kari Lucin/Daily Globe Ellen Dudley and Brandon Berger, both seniors at Worthington High School, recently received the District 518 Academics, Arts and Athletics award.

WHS students receive AAA awards

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WORTHINGTON -- Trying new things, managing time carefully and being surrounded with people who help you succeed -- these are the factors that helped Ellen Dudley and Brandon Berger win the District 518 Academics, Arts and Athletics award.

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"You know your priorities. School comes first," said Dudley, whose Grade Point Average (GPA) is 3.99. "It's just applying yourself to get it done."

Dudley participates in National Honor Society, student council, Link Crew, Trojan Express and school musicals, as well as soccer, gymnastics and track. She also plays the French horn in band, violin in orchestra and sings soprano in the choir.

"For me, the thing that helps me succeed the most is that I've surrounded myself with people who help me be successful," said Berger, whose GPA is 3.91. "It's that extra push that helps me succeed."

Berger participates in Vox, Trojan Express, jazz band, musicals, student council, Link Crew and National Honor Society, as well as football, hockey and track. He plays the alto saxophone in band and sings tenor in choir.

Both students excel academically, and though they have weak subjects, both have worked hard to succeed in those too.

"I like English. Psychology was really fun, too," Dudley said. "Science is not my strong point at all, but I have all my credits in."

Berger prefers music, history, science and psychology, and his weakest subject is math.

"I apply myself to math and I work really hard at it -- it's definitely one of the subjects I have to work at to succeed," Berger said.

Both students also credited their parents for their support and assistance. Dudley, the daughter of Steve and Lori Dudley of Worthington, said her parents felt being well-rounded was important, and have always supported her in everything. Berger, the son of Jeff and Janice Berger of Worthington, said his parents always encouraged him to try new things and see what works and what doesn't.

Berger has applied to Gustavus Adolphus, Luther College and St. Olaf, and has not yet decided which school to attend, though he wants to major in music education.

Dudley applied to the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and St. Olaf, and has not yet decided on a major.

Both students praised District 518 for its flexibility and wide variety of activities.

"I think it's good that we go to a school small enough that you can focus on so many things, but large enough to have AP (Advanced Placement) classes," Dudley said.

Berger praised the school's acceptance of the arts, and both students emphasized how willing District 518 coaches and advisers are to allow students to be in multiple activities, which sometimes conflict.

"The coaches and teachers are good about sharing us a lot," Dudley said.

Open communication with everyone involved is critical, Berger added.

"I like being busy. I'm glad that I've tried everything -- it's a big part of who I am," Dudley said.

Dudley and Berger will represent District 518 at the regional AAA competition this year.

"My advice to anybody younger who's having doubts about trying something new is to just go for it. If you end up not liking it, there's always going to be something else you can try," Berger said. "You find something out about yourself when you do all these different things, and you find out who you really are as a person through all these different activities you do, whether it be music, sports or even academics -- because they all are important."

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