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Nalla, Williamson honored with Triple 'A' Award

Laura Grevas/Daily Globe Worthington High School students Dayton Williamson and Sameera Nalla, right, were awarded the Triple 'A' Award for their excellence in academics, arts and athletics.

WORTHINGTON -- Give it a try.

It's the advice of two of Worthington High School's most involved students. Seniors Sameera Nalla and Dayton Williamson were honored with the school's Triple 'A' Award for their excellence in academics, arts and athletics -- and both say the activities they 'took a chance on' later become rewarding experiences.

"A lot of kids, they go through high school and they're in sports and that's it. And that's great, if it's your thing," Williamson said. "But there's a lot more to high school. Just because something may seem not attractive to you, give it a try. It never hurts."

"Originally I only joined speech because my sister did," admitted Nalla, who competed at the state level last year. "Speech really is an activity you can use for the rest of your life. For example, I can use it for job interviews or presentations in college just because I had that speech experience in high school. So I'm glad I took the chance."

Nalla, the daughter of Sundara and Manjula Nalla, has spent her high school career on a host of activities: she participated in tennis and the visual arts, served as president of the school's National Honor Society chapter and Students Against Destructive Decisions and was involved in student council and Link Crew.

Between all of that, Nalla participated in band, choir and orchestra, earning a superior rating in the Minnesota State High School League's Orchestra Solo/Ensemble Contest.

"I guess you could say I like music," she said with a laugh. "I'm pretty sure I'd like to continue playing the piano and my viola in college."

She has applied to eight colleges in the Midwest and on the East Coast, but hasn't yet decided which she will attend to pursue studies in biology and classics.

Williamson, the son of Jeff and LouAnn Williamson, is a multi-sport athlete, participating in football, wrestling and tennis. He competed in the 2009 state team tennis tournament with the Section 3A champion Trojans. He has also participated in band and choir and is a member of the National Honor Society.

Williamson has been involved in FFA since his freshman year, and it's among his favorite activities.

"I really just like it because a lot of things we do in FFA classes (are) hands on and I like working with my hands and working on engines and electricity. ... There's more than just a bunch of ag kids getting together and competing and judging cows."

He has competed in the wildlife competition, answering questions about Minnesota wildlife and identifying animals.

"It's a pretty fun competition. We're always in the top four of our region," he said. FFA has also helped him with job interview and speaking skills. "It's just all the skills you can use in life kind of put into one organization," he said.

Both winners said they were honored by the award.

"When I applied for it, it was so last minute. I hadn't thought about the deadline or even thought about the award," Nalla explained. "I lot of my friends who also were deserving had applied for it, too; so it wasn't something I was necessarily expecting, but I was happy I was recognized for it."

Williamson said he was surprised when he learned he was named as the male award recipient.

"It was a surprise to me because I knew there were a couple of other guys that applied for this award that deserved it just as much as I did. ... It was a big deal to me; I worked hard on the application and I've been involved in a lot of things," said Williamson, who hopes to pursue a career in pharmacy after finishing his credits and Minnesota West Community and Technical College.

Nalla and Williamson will now be eligible for the Region 3A Academics, Arts, and Athletics Award to be determined this spring. The Academics, Arts, and Athletics Award is sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League.