SIBLEY, Iowa | Anne Wynja weighed 1 pound, 11 ounces at birth. Sister Kate Wynja? Two pounds, 6 ounces. Brother Wesley Wynja tipped the scales at 2 pounds 10 ounces, the first of the Wynja triplets delivered on March 21, 1998.
Kate came home to their parents, Mark and Marsha Wynja, of rural Melvin, Iowa, on Mother's Day. Wesley would follow. Little Anne was the last, and she arrived at the family farm on Father's Day.
The triplets, a three-dimensional picture of health, happiness and togetherness, graduated from Sibley-Ocheyedan High School in Sibley on Sunday, joining classmate Jill Berkland as four valedictorians topping this Class of 2017.
These pictures of health show incredible consistency, if not superiority, on their report cards, nothing but a line of A's throughout four years of high school for the Wynjas.
It's the first time in my memory that I've interviewed straight-A triplets, valedictorians all.
What's more? The Wynjas stayed in the same class section during elementary and middle school. They took all of their high school classes together. And, all three will traipse off to Northwest Iowa Community College in Sheldon, Iowa, during the third week of August, to study accounting.
"We are perfectionists," Kate said. "We studied a lot each night, as it doesn't come easily for us."
"The lowest grade I ever got was a 97 percent," Anne added. "And getting a 97 percent freaked me out!"
Seems the family that studies together also plays and acts together, as all three have been mainstays in the Sibley-Ocheyedan High School band directed by Peter Carlson. They've participated in large-group speech, choir, National Honor Society, school musicals and student council.
They ride to school together and study at home following completion of their chores. The triplets will work in earnest on the farm in the next week or so as lambing season commences. "We timed it for 80 of our sheep to have lambs right after graduation," Wesley said.
"We get along very well," Kate said on Wednesday during an interview in the high school commons, a meeting at which they arrived together, traveling in one vehicle the 17 miles it takes to cover their route from home. They departed together and spent part of the afternoon helping clean Baker Township Cemetery near Melvin in time for Memorial Day.
Togetherness; a theme Kate invoked in her commencement address.
"I spoke about success and that while it's important to be successful, what you do with that success is even more important," Kate Wynja said. "I talked about helping those in need. I also talked about making sure we spend time with family. We've had kids in our class who have lost parents, so I wanted to talk about family."
Fifty-four members of the Class of 2017 at Sibley-Ocheyedan received their diplomas on a sunny afternoon in the heart of Iowa's smallest county, Osceola County. The Wynjas, as well as their senior classmates, were granted a reprieve from playing with the band. They sang with the choir, however, joining forces for a senior-only rendition of "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus.
"The seniors held hands as we sang," Anne said.
"There were a lot of tears," Kate added.
Somehow, the three of them kept their composure throughout the song and the celebration. Maybe they were a bit numb to the "pomp and circumstance" as they'd just worked with their parents hours earlier in hosting a graduation reception in father Marks' shop that attracted 200 guests.
Or, maybe they didn't get too teary-eyed on Sunday because this isn't the end as much as it is the beginning.
Or, maybe they didn't waver as they found strength in a powerful source they've had since March 1998, a "rock" on either side, this time clad in a black cap, gown and orange valedictorian chord.