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S'side cousins at head of their class

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Among the top 5 percent of Sunnyside's graduating class of 2006 are three cousins (L-R) Dan Albrecht, Megan Grubenhoff and Matt Thomas. All three plan to continue their studies at Eastern Washington University.

Landing a spot in the top 5 percent of a graduating class with hundreds of students is one thing, but for three of those top classmates to be cousins is a rare thing indeed.

Such is the honor for Sunnyside High School seniors and cousins Dan Albrecht, Megan Grubenhoff and Matt Thomas.

The three cousins did a quick tally and reckon that 12 family members before them also graduated with honors from Sunnyside. An uncle, Bob Thomas, is a former principal at Sunnyside High School.

"It was helpful for me to have cousins here in my class," said Albrecht, who transferred from Sunnyside Christian High School to Sunnyside High School as a sophomore. "They helped me figure out my way around," he added.

Albrecht and Thomas are first cousins, while Grubenhoff is a third cousin. "Our grandparents were first cousins," she explained.

"It's been really fun," she said of having cousins as classmates.

Added Albrecht, "There are teachers about halfway through the year who figure out we're related," he smiled. "They'll say, 'You look a lot like Matt'."

Being cousins may have helped the three excel in school. Albrecht graduates with a weighted GPA of 4.06, Thomas at 3.92 and Grubenhoff at 3.78.

"The parents get into it a little bit," laughed Thomas. "Whenever I get a report card they'll ask me, 'What did Dan get?'"

Albrecht, in turn, credits the family connection and the fact he and Thomas are neighbors, and can help one another with school studies.

"It's kind of nice," Albrecht said. "We have a lot of classes together. Matt's my neighbor, so if we get stuck (on a class assignment) we'll work together on it."

The cousins look like they'll have at least one more year to work together, as all three will attend Eastern Washington University this fall.

"We didn't plan it that way, it just happened," said Albrecht. "The nice thing is that we'll be able to ride back home together during breaks."

Grubenhoff laughed, "Maybe when one of our parents comes to visit us they'll take all three of us to dinner."

The cousins said they are the first in their immediate family to attend college.

With all three landing in Sunnyside's top 5 percent and heading to college, it begs the question: Is there a smart gene in the family?

"No," smiled Thomas. "I think we just inherited our parents' hard work gene."

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