- Associated Press - Friday, May 30, 2014

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) - Parents always hope for a child to rank at the top of their class, but Brian Gallagher has three times the parental gratification. His triplets — Andrew, Austin and A.J. Gallagher — are ranked Nos. 1, 2 and 10 in their graduating class at Wayne High School.

It’s no small feat to raise triplets, and these three have excelled in their academic life. Andrew Gallagher is the valedictorian; Austin Gallagher the salutatorian and A.J. Gallagher is 10th.

All three 18-year-olds are humble about their success. They give their parents credit for home schooling them in preschool, giving them a jump on the other kids at Maplewood Elementary School. They also said the regime of coming home from school and doing their homework right away taught them good study habits that carried over into middle school and kept them on track in high school.

“They pushed us early on to stay focused in school,” Austin Gallagher said.

Up until third or fourth grade, the boys all dressed the same, more because of the dress code at school than any intention of their parents. Their teachers, said the boys, could rarely tell them from one another. They didn’t switch places with each other very often, maybe once or twice, but when the boys were in fourth grade they discovered their teacher had the same birthday they did, so they played a trick on her by trading places with each other that day.

So what’s it like to grow up as a triplet?

“It’s pretty fun. You always have someone to hang out with; they are pretty much my best friends. No doubt I enjoy it,” Andrew Gallagher told The News-Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1nKvR3Z ).

“You always have someone to play with, too,” Austin Gallagher said.

“Or argue with,” A.J. added.

“We don’t argue that much, though,” Austin Gallagher said. The three laughed.

Of the three boys, Andrew is the one with a girlfriend and he is the one who went to prom. Besides excelling in their studies, the three work at Pizza Hut in Waynedale, which can sometimes lead to some confusion with the customers. There have been a few times when all three have revealed themselves to a befuddled customer so they would understand why the person they thought was their waiter was behind the counter, cutting up pizza.

Jokes aside, the three seem laid back, but are still very competitive in school.

“I always thought Austin would be the valedictorian, I totally didn’t expect it,” Andrew Gallagher said.

“I needed to study a little more prior to tests,” Austin Gallagher said.

Andrew’s grade-point average is 4.32. Austin is close behind at 4.28. A.J. Gallagher, who is equally smart, said he is ranked tenth because he not as driven as the other two. His father teases him about being the slacker, but it is clearly apparent he is equally proud of all three boys.

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