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Shimek triplets prepare to forge their own paths

They’ve spent the first 18 years of their lives together, but as high school graduation looms, the Shimek triplets are preparing to go their separate ways for the first time.

The twin siblings — Halle, Chance and Trace — were born within minutes of each other and they haven’t strayed too far from one another since. That will change shortly after they graduate from Jordan High School this June and attend three different universities.

The college experience will mark a stark contrast to their last 12 years in Jordan Public Schools, where the triplets retained a tight-knit relationship, often sharing friends and activities — and sometimes resources.

“There are so many times where I’ve forgotten my textbook and used one of theirs,” Halle said. “It helps with homework a lot. Trace is really good at math, so I can always ask for math help. We just hold each other accountable a lot.”

In addition to mentoring each other, a healthy dose of sibling rivalry has endowed the triplets with a competitive spirit that helped them excel at school.

“I probably wouldn’t be taking my upper level classes if I wasn’t with these guys,” Halle said. “They push me to take those classes. They’re in the classes with me, so we’re all doing the homework and if I don’t get it, one of them probably will understand it.”

“It’s like a cushion but we also push each other,” Trace said.

Chance said the competitive streak usually comes out when comparing exam scores. On a positive note, the scrutiny and comparisons pushes the triplets to constantly be accountable for their grades.

“There is always an incentive to be better at something,” Chance said.

Socially, being siblings afforded the triplets a level of comfort not everyone experiences in school — particularly early on. Most people recall the awkward first days of school, when young students are dropped off and forced to make new friends. The Shimeks, however, were never alone.

“These two have always been my best friends, so connecting with people, feeling comfortable at school and having people I can talk to has always been very easy,” Trace said.

Chance and Trace say Halle has always been the most social of the three and made friends easily. Naturally, Halle’s new friends would become Chance and Trace’s friends and the siblings would see a lot of each other while spending time with classmates, even outside of school. But as high school progressed and the triplets had more class options, they explored separate studies and have grown more independent.

“That was actually the hard point for us, where we had to learn to be more independent and make our own friends,” Trace said. “It’s actually harder to be by myself in classes because I don’t think I push myself as hard as I do in classes with them.”

“I think it’s been good for us and getting ready for college,” Halle said.

In the past year, however, the siblings found themselves spending more time with one another, fully aware their lives won’t be quite the same when high school is over. Come fall, the triplets will be scattered across three different states. Chance will attend St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Halle will study business at North Dakota State University and Trace will pursue a math degree at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Trace said his decision to attend a college away from his siblings was deliberate.

“I realized I won’t be able to live with these two forever and that I’ll need to be independent,” Trace said. “I don’t think it’s going to be the easiest thing, but I think it’s necessary for us to be apart for awhile to learn what that is like.”

In addition to being apart from each other, the triplets will also leave their younger sister, Sloane, back home. But they’re confident she will do well on her own.

“I won’t worry about Sloane, she’s very well defined,” Trace said.

“She loves to travel and now she will have three different places to visit,” Halle said.

At college, the triplets are most excited to forge their own identity and not be defined by their siblings. Halle said she looks forward to the journey, but is uncertain what life will be like apart from her brothers.

“I have waves. I get really excited and then I get really scared,” she said. “I think I’ll be fine by myself, but I won’t be seeing you guys every day and I’m scared of missing out on the fun.”

But unlike high school pals who may slowly drift apart after graduation, Halle is comforted by the fact that being family will always keep her in contact with two of her closest friends.

“Friends kind of come and go, but these guys are stuck with me forever, so I’ll always have them,” Halle said. “It’s nice to know I have guaranteed friends.”

tsabeln / Photos by Bill Piotrowski  

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