The irony is not lost on the now internationally famous Wade quadruplets of Lakota East High School.
Much of their motivation for their individual academic, sports and performing arts success was fueled by a desire to differentiate themselves from one another.
It was always a friendly, loving rivalry, says their mother, and remains so among the now famous high school seniors who are being celebrated for their collective acceptance into some of America’s top universities, including Yale, Harvard and Stanford.
The Journal-News story and video this week on the four high school seniors has been picked up by international media — Britain’s Daily Mail — and national via the Associated Press, Fox TV news affiliates, ABC and NBC News and other major media outlets.
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They are being flown to New York City this weekend for an appearance Monday on NBC’s “Today” show and have been contacted by a number of other TV talk shows.
But their extraordinary individual successes — and the media spotlight now shining bright on them — sees them once again being largely identified as quads, albeit one of the most successful young foursomes in America.
And given the extraordinary and overwhelmingly positive nature of the attention — they are just fine with being one of four again.
“You can’t run away from your identity,” Nigel Wade told the Journal-News Friday during a break from his classes at the Butler County high school. “I’m both a quadruplet but at the same time I’m also an individual and both of those come together to make me me.”
Zach Wade excels both in the classroom and on Lakota East’s track team.
“Like the rest of my brothers I really try to find my own place in the world and I found that in track and field. I love doing discus because it’s just an individual event. It’s just you and a disc in your hand and you are in a ring — and at the moment when you are in the ring it’s just you in the ring. It’s not your brothers,” Zach said.
“If I win, I win for myself. If I lose, I lose for myself. It really makes me feel like an individual in that moment,” said Zach, who along with brothers Nigel and Nick are leaning toward attending Yale University.
Aaron, however, has also been accepted by Stanford University — as well as Yale and Harvard — and may be West Coast bound this fall.
In their own fashion, each young man touches on their strong individualistic streaks and desires to cut their own path in their college essays.
Nick Wade wrote: “When people learn that I am a quadruplet, their eyes widen. Women invariably say, “Your poor mother.” Neighbors, teachers, and friends seldom use my first name. They perpetually refer to me as “one of the Wade boys.” Or they say, “Wait, which one are you?” People think of me less as individual and more like one in a set of matching luggage.”
Their mother, Kim Wade — principal of Lakota’s Plains Junior School — understands as only a mother of quadruplets could.
“When they were young, they really didn’t understand (being part of quadruplets),” Wade said. “Every time somebody would talk to them they’d say, ‘that’s one of the Wade brothers’ rather than saying, ‘that is Zach or Aaron.’ ”
“But as they got into junior high, they started looking for their sense of identity,” she said. “Then they really wanted to be identified by who they really were and wanted to be their own person. And they started to think about what they could do to break apart from the pack.”
“Aaron has his music and Nigel was like the book worm and he was always studying, especially anything to do with philosophy and medical things,” she said. “Zach has always been that sports guy and he has always been competitive, and Nick I think found his identity from being a writer and a speaker … and he wants to go into international relations.”
The global publicity is jarring, but the family — father Darrin works for General Electric — is adjusting, Wade said.
“I did not think it would get as big as it did because for us this is normal. This is who we are as a family. We expect them to go to school. We expect them to do the right thing. We expect them to do their homework and always do your best,” she said.
“But it’s amazing it has blown up this big. We were definitely surprised,” she said.