Maple Grove students earn ‘Triple A Award’

Maple Grove High School’s Triple A Award winners are Sydney Friederich and Zach Hopp. (Submitted photos) 

Talk to most high school students and they’re likely to say they don’t get involved in activities for recognition. To them, it’s about being a student, an athlete, a musician, a thespian and an all-around good person. 

The Minnesota State High School League, however, has an award to honor such students. It’s called the “Triple A Award” and it recognizes high school seniors who excel in Academics, Arts and Athletics. To be eligible, students must have a 3.0 or better GPA and be involved in MSHSL-sponsored activities.

Triple A Award recipients are selected through a multi-level process involving member schools of the League, the league’s administrative regions, and a special committee of educators, business leaders, and members from the fine arts and athletic communities.

Schools throughout the state have a female and male student Triple A winner. The top two finishers from each region will be invited to a recognition banquet in March and MSHSL officials will announce the four statewide Triple ‘A’ Award winners at that time.

All 32 finalists will also participate in an on-court ceremony during the Class AA championship game of the Boys Basketball State Tournament. The statewide award winners—a girl and a boy from Class A and Class AA schools—will also receive a four-year $1,000 scholarship.

This year’s recipients from Maple Grove High School are Sydney Friederich and Zach Hopp. The Press did a “Q & A” with both Friederich and Hopp to find out what makes them tick.

Sydney Friederich, Maple Grove


I have taken nine Advanced Placement classes throughout high school, have a 4.117 GPA, and the fourth class rank at Maple Grove Senior High. I am a member of both the National Honor Society and Green Club. I have played for the golf, soccer, and tennis teams. I have played varsity golf since eighth grade, and won the 2019 state championship on the varsity soccer team. I have participated in choir all four years of my high school experience, and I am in Crimson Harmony this year, the top mixed choir.

Future plans (college, major, goals):

I am undecided as to where I will attend college, but will be majoring in chemical engineering. My goal one day is to engineer new products and processes that are ecological to better the human impact on the environment.

What are your favorite high school memories?

I loved attending hockey and football games, learning Spanish, singing in choir, and having fun with my friends.

Describe how COVID-19 affected has changed your life:

COVID-19 has changed my perspective on human interaction. Without being able to go to school or participate in other activities, interactions with other people become sparse. I miss seeing my classmates and other members of my community, as well as being places other than my house. This abnormal time has made me more appreciative of interactions that I have with others, and excited for the time I get to go back to school.

How did you handle the COVID-19 news last spring as a student and athlete?

Last spring I had no thought of COVID-19 continuing throughout my senior year. I was very disappointed to hear I would not be returning to school with all of my classmates in the fall to live the best year of high school. Although my senior year is not what I imagined it to be, I have made the most of it with my family and close friends. I believe optimism is key to living my best life, and have tried to look at the bright side of the situation.

What are you most proud of in your high school years?

I am most proud of the straight A’s that I have maintained to this point in high school, achieved by putting in an immense amount of effort on assignments and studying for tests.

What would your advice be to middle school and/or elementary school students on things they can do to succeed and help?

Balancing school work and fun, relaxing activities is key to being successful yet happy. It is important to set goals and work hard towards them in school, striving to be successful. Being proud of your work makes all of the effort you put in worth it. I think it is also necessary to take breaks from school work, involve yourself in other activities, and have fun with the people you love.

Favorite movie:

Back to the Future

Most embarrassing moment:

Getting hit in the eye with a puck at my first Crimson hockey game.

Favorite TV/Streaming show:

The Vampire Diaries

Who are the top 3 artists on your Playlist?

Billy Currington, Morgan Wallen, Luke Combs

What is your food guilty pleasure?

Pop Rocks

Zachary Hopp, Maple Grove


I am a PSEO student, I am a captain for the Maple Grove Boys’ Swimming and Diving team. I play oboe in our top concert band (Crimson Winds), and I play guitar in our top jazz ensemble.

Future plans (college, major, goals)

I am going to attend the University of Maine and major in mechanical engineering. I will continue my athletics as a member of their varsity swim team, and I will continue my music by participating in the universities jazz ensembles.

What are your favorite high school memories?

One of my favorite high school memories is sitting in the band hallway in the morning and listening to the jazz ensembles practice. Especially with the newer members, it’s really fun to hear the progression they make, and I get to begin my day listening to some good music.

Describe how COVID-19 affected has changed your life:

The virus has made me realize many of the reasons I enjoy participating in athletics. As I have tried to train on my own, even in an individual sport, I’ve found myself missing the little interactions that happen during a practice. I realized that some of my favorite parts about being an athlete is being able to get through a tough practice with the ability to motivate and cheer on other teammates and receive the same motivation from them. Having a team makes everything more enjoyable.

How did you handle the COVID-19 news last spring as a student and athlete?

A lot of the spring was making it through one day at a time. Our junior national meet was canceled three days before we were supposed to fly out, and that was extremely disappointing. However, I tried to focus on the positive. I had put in the work for the year. I knew I had improved. I just wasn’t going to see direct results. I tried to have a similar mentality with everything that was changing. As school went to remote learning, I tried to look for the benefits including being able to better control my schedule, being able so sleep in a little more, and having an easier ability to spend more time on a topic if I wasn’t quite understanding it.

What are you most proud of in your high school years?

I am most proud of my development on a social front. I was pretty shy as a child, and never really had close friends growing up. In high school, I started recognizing and understanding how much I enjoy being around other people and how important social interaction is. I’ve developed much stronger relationships, a lot of which I believe have made me a better person. These relationships also make going to school and getting through tough days way easier and more enjoyable.

What would your advice be to middle school and/or elementary school students on things they can do to succeed and help?

My advice to middle and elementary students is to discover what you like to do and don’t be afraid to try new things. Just because you have always done something doesn’t mean you have to continue. Your interests can change. Identifying and following your interests makes averything more enjoyable. Although my academic interests have remained relatively constant, I have tried doing many different sports and changed the instrument I play in concert band multiple times, each time learning more about what I enjoy and why I participate in specific activities.

Favorite movie:

My favorite movie is Cars (the Pixar animated film).

Most embarrassing moment?

During a junior national swim meet, when I bent down to start, my suit ripped, and since competition suits are so tight, the hole was about 5 inches long.

Favorite TV/Streaming show:

My favorite TV show is MacGyver.

Who are the top 3 artists on your Playlist?:

My top three artists are I Prevail, NEFFEX, and Fame on Fire.

What is your food guilty pleasure?

My food guilty pleasure is most definitely plain vanilla ice cream.

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