Congratulations to Fridley High School (FHS) 2021 Minnesota State High School League Triple “A” (Academics, Arts, and Athletics) Award winners, seniors Cassady Callahan and Michael Ude! Each year, the award honors two senior students, one male and one female, who have excelled in the classroom, athletics and fine arts. Both Callahan and Ude are standout, exemplary students who have challenged themselves academically at FHS, with rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme classes, while simultaneously maintaining extensive involvement in extracurricular activities.
In addition, Ude has been named the Triple “A” Region 5AA winner, a recognition he earned against other student male candidates from Maple Grove, Anoka, Centennial, Columbia Heights, Osseo, Blaine, Irondale, Mounds View, Rogers, Champlin Park, Mounds View, Park Center, St. Michael-Albertville, Coon Rapids, Spring Lake Park and Totino-Grace high schools. Ude will now advance to the statewide competition, where he is a candidate among eight other regional finalists who are vying for the state title and scholarship opportunities. The final Triple "A" Award-winning recipients will be announced during an virtual recognition ceremony on April 9 and 10 on KSTC-45 during the boys and girls state basketball championship.
A highly involved student, senior Cassady Callahan has excelled in academics, fine arts, and athletics throughout her high school career. She maintains a 3.6 Grade Point Average while participating in the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme (DP) classes.
Callahan thrives in the performing arts scene and has developed a love for theatre throughout her time at Fridley. She has been involved in every high school drama production during her four years at the high school, and has earned two Hennepin Theatre Trust Spotlight awards for her leading roles as Fiona in Shrek: The Musical and Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls.
“I fell in love with performing at a young age, and I truly enjoy being part of every production that I’ve been in,” said Callahan. “I love the art of performing and having the ability to provide the audience with an entertaining experience.”
Callahan has participated in both band and choir throughout her high school career. She has played trombone since 5th grade, and expanded her musical horizons by learning guitar for jazz band. Callahan also sings in the Concert Choir, and has competed in both Ensemble and Solo performances. She has earned several recognitions in music, including All-Conference honors and Superior ratings. According to Callahan, she has enjoyed learning through the music programs at Fridley High School, where she has continued to master her musical and vocal techniques and overall performance.
“Both choir and band have been very valuable to me because I find them to be so much fun, and they have also benefited me academically.” said Callahan, who added that the programs have even inspired her to pursue music education in college.
Her additional extracurriculars include serving as captain of the Fridley Speech team and involvement in Minnesota Honor Society.
Athletically, Callahan plays on the Varsity Girls Tennis team and serves as a captain. “Tennis has taught me a lot about being a team player,” she said. “It takes the efforts of the entire team to pull the victory, and I’ve learned skills like time management, cooperation, and the benefits of positive reinforcement.” She was also involved in Girls Softball during the past several spring seasons.
Callahan is proud to have earned the Triple “A” Award and is thankful for the opportunities she has received throughout her time in the Fridley School District. “I was surprised, but incredibly grateful,” she said. Callahan added she would like to thank her parents, Erin and Joshua Callahan, for continuing to serve as her support system. “My parents definitely push me the hardest, and if I didn’t have them, I don’t know where I’d be,” said Callahan. “They support me wholeheartedly through anything and I want to say thank you for that.”
She said her high achieving involvement in the academics, athletics and fine arts has allowed her to ‘grow astronomically for the better.’ “I’m thankful for the leadership positions I’ve been able to serve in, and I’ve gained confidence and become more self-assured,” she said. Her coaches and teachers say Callahan exhibits strong leadership qualities and integrity, and is focused, dependable, positive, and incredibly hardworking.
Callahan will be pursuing a degree in music education at Minnesota State University - Mankato in the fall of 2021.
With unmatched accomplishments, abilities and a never-changing positive attitude, senior Michael Ude was selected as this year’s Fridley High School Triple “A” Award winner, as well as the Region 5AA representative to advance to the state-level competition. He will represent the entire region in the competition for the distinguished state title and scholarship opportunities.
Ude has excelled throughout his high school career with an impressive top of the class rank of 4.3 Grade Point Average and an array of activity and athletic involvement. He is an International Baccalaureate (IB) full Diploma candidate, taking advantage of the most rigorous academic path offered at Fridley High School.
According to Ude, he decided to enroll in the Diploma Programme (DP) to earn the internationally-recognized IB Diploma because he enjoys challenging himself and didn’t want to limit his post-secondary options. “It’s definitely a very rigorous path and requires a lot of time and effort,” he said. “But my view on it is, you get out of it what you put in, so it’s all worth it.”
In addition to high ranking academics, Ude was selected as the Harvard Book Award recipient, an award given to the top ranked member of the junior class. He has also received numerous extracurricular leadership and academic recognitions, including the Twin City Football District Why We Play Award, and Academic All-Section honors in wrestling and Academic All-State honors in football.
A talented three-sport athlete, Ude is part of the football, wrestling, and track and field programs at Fridley High School, serving as captain in both football and wrestling. Ude thrives in Fridley athletics, having had five state appearances in wrestling since 8th grade. He serves as running back and middle linebacker on the football team, recently assisting his team through an impressive undefeated 2020 season, as well as the 2020 AP State Championship title. In addition, Ude has earned All-Conference honors in both wrestling and football over the past five years.
Ude said the discipline, challenges, successes and failures he has faced through his experiences in sports has immensely shaped the person he is today.
“I would never give up those memories and lessons for anything in the world,” he said. “What I have learned from participating in sports has helped me mentally prepare for the future and what’s to come. I’ve gained mental toughness and learned how to consistently push myself past limits to improve overall.”
Balancing his well-rounded talents and interests, Ude plays the flute in Varsity Band, an instrument he has played since the 6th grade. He has earned awards, including Superior ratings in both Solo and Ensemble with a flute quartet, and helped his team earn 4th place at the 2020 Minnesota Music Listening Contest. He appreciates the challenge and team effort of the art of music. “I’m always pleased when I practice hard and see my improvements, and I love listening to our band as a whole and hearing our songs come together. It’s very rewarding,” said Ude.
He added that his involvement in the arts has helped to develop and grow him as a person. “Band has helped me with my perseverance, broadened my social spectrum, and opened new doors for me. I’ve been able to collaborate with and create lasting bonds with many different types of people.”
Upon learning that he was the winner of the Triple “A” Award award, Ude said he was surprised but proud of the accomplishments he has made. He added that it has been a collaborative effort, as his teachers, mentors, and coaches have contributed to his successes. To name a few, Ude is incredibly thankful to wrestling coach Eric Anderson; football coaches Justin Reese, Bryce Richter, Blake Cook, and Matt and Dan Nalepka; Band Director Becca Shuman; and teacher An Christiansen, who have all inspired and helped him in many ways.
His teachers, mentors and coaches are quick to commend Ude for his leadership abilities, can-do attitude and natural charisma and caring nature. This fall, Ude will be attending the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where he plans to major in engineering.