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Paynesville Press - January 21, 2004

O'Fallon, Virant nominated for AAA Award

By Michael Jacobson

Seniors Bob O'Fallon and Jessie Virant have been chosen by the teachers and coaches at Paynesville Area High School as the school's nominees for the Arts, Academics, and Athletics Award.

The award is sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League to honor well-rounded students who are active and accomplished in the fine arts, academics, and sports. Students must be seniors and must carry a GPA of 3.0 or above. They are judged on their classroom performance, athletic and arts achievements, and other activities.

AAA Winners The subsection competition will be held tonight at the Paynesville American Legion, where O'Fallon and Virant will compete against their peers to try to advance to sectional competition.

Both O'Fallon and Virant were surprised to be selected to be the local AAA awardwinners, feeling that many of their peers were also deserving of the award. "I was amazed, in awe, that I got it," said Virant. "Out of everybody," added O'Fallon.

Seniors Bob O'Fallon and Jessie Virant have been selected, by teachers and coaches, as the local nominees for the Arts, Academics, and Athletics Award. They will compete at the subsection level tonight.

Both were honored to be recognized as well-rounded students and thanked their parents, in particular, for being supportive in all their activities.

"Being involved with sports and fine arts has taught me a couple things over the years," wrote Virant in her student essay. "I learned to be responsible for my actions and to deal with things life tries to throw at me. I learned how to be a positive leader, a team player, and a good sport."

"My participation in athletics, fine arts, and other activities has affected my life in many ways," wrote O'Fallon in his essay. "First, I think it has made me a team player as well as a good person. It has taught me to be patient, fair, and work hard at everything I do."

O'Fallon, the son of Gretchen and Jim O'Fallon, has played football for four years, lettering for three, and baseball for four years, lettering for two years. He was a member of the American Legion baseball team last summer that won a state title, and the sportsmanship award, and advanced to the national tourney.

In the arts, he has been a member of the concert band for four years, including being section leader this year for the tubas, and a member of the pep band for four years. In solo and ensemble competitions, he has earned superior and excellent ratings. He also was a member of the marching band for two years.

His other school activities include being a D.A.R.E. role model and being a peer tutor.

Away from school, he has become an Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts and has been a religion teacher and mass server at St. Louis Catholic Church. He also has done youth coaching.

Virant, the daughter of Bill and Jeanne Virant, played volleyball for four years, lettering for two, lettered in danceline for three years, lettered in track for two years, and played basketball for one year. She has been a danceline captain/choreographer for the past two years and placed in three events in section track as a ninth grader.

In the arts, she has played flute in the concert band and pep band for four years and played in the marching band for two years. She has earned state superior ratings for her flute solos at contest the past two years. She also participated in the school play, "All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," last year.

She has also played her flute and sang solos at Grace United Methodist Church, where she is also a Sunday School teacher, participates in youth group, and has gone on mission trips.

Her other school activities include being a peer tutor, being photo editor of the school newspaper as a junior, and belonging to the National Honor Society.

"High school has taught me way more than facts; it has prepared me for the next step in life," continued Virant in her essay. "I learned valuable traits and qualities and hope they help me in the future. Next year, when I start college, I will be thankful for all the sports and activities I was in and the lessons I have learned."

Virant plans to attend the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities next year. O'Fallon plans to attend either St. John's University, the College of St. Scholastica, or St. Cloud State University.

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