In June, triplets Philip, Lucas, and Barbara Meinke will graduate from Marengo Community High School. After eighteen years of living together, they will walk separate paths. Phil plans to pursue a degree in Musical Theatre with a minor in law; Lucas plans to join the Air Force; and Barbara has a passion for elementary education and theatre.
Four years ago, Philip, Barbara and Lucas Meinecke moved to Marengo from Schaumburg with their mother, Gale Taylor. They were starting over in Marengo with a new stepfather, a new house and a new school.
According to Taylor, the triplets were born at 31 weeks and spent over two months in the hospital before going home. Estranged from their biological father they were raised by a single mother through much of their life. The chaotic nature of their childhood was sometimes difficult but they persevered and found joy in performing in plays and music. The family moved to Marengo about the same time the triplets entered high school.
Philip likes the small feel of Marengo, where everyone knows everyone. “It’s a homey, comfortable feeling,” he explained. Philip got involved in theatre when he was in 1st grade. He credits his mother for getting him interested by her involvement and because she often took the triplets to performances. After graduation, Philip will be attending Southeast Missouri State University to get a BFA in Musical Theater where he has been awarded the Presidents Scholarship and a Visual and Performing Arts Scholarship.
Lucas understands how difficult raising three children all at once must have been for his mother. “She had to get three of everything. It must have been overwhelming. It’s even crazier now that we’re all getting ready for college.” Becoming a pilot requires a lot of studying, according to Lucas. He believes that being raised by a single mother helped him become more independent. “Being away from my family will be scary at first, but I know I can manage it,” he explained. “I’m used to being a group. It will be nice to strike out on a new path. I’ll be able to identify my own passion.”
Barbara has not selected a college. She is entertaining offers and scholarships from many institutions after receiving callbacks from 24 colleges after her audition at Illinois High School Theater Fest. “Ideally I’ll get a chance to use my love of theatre as an elementary school teacher,” said Barbara. “Still, it might be easier to get a job as a high school theatre director.”
While still in Kindergarten, Barbara was the first to get involved in theatre. As the only female in the trio, Barbara believes she has an easier time talking to boys. She admits now that she’s dating, her brothers can be protective. “We’re always there to look out for each other,” she explained. Barbara says she was shy in Schaumberg, but in Marengo she joined many of the clubs and got involved in sports.
Each of the triplets assumed a family role. Philip tends to be the spokesperson, while Barbara is the event planner. .Lucas is the laid-back, comewhat- may member of the trio.
The Mieneke triplets each have scholarships based on their GPA, and SAT/ACT test scores, in addition to talent auditions for 32 schools. According to Taylor, it’s unusual to get called back for 10 auditions. Both Philip and Barbara got called back for more than twenty.
Prior to coming to Marengo the triplets were involved in Spotlight Youth Theater and theater at their elementary school. After moving to Marengo, the got involved in the high school theater department, marching band and SWTA with the Marengo Park District. March marks perhaps the last time the three of them will share a stage with the MCHS production of “Singing in the Rain.” Their proud mother said, “I’ve been singing the songs from that play ever since they were babies. I’m sure I’ll be crying at every performance.”