From skiing to softball, the Rathmann family does it all. As the academic year ends, families juggle a dizzying array of year-end school programs, sports events and awards ceremonies. It’s a triplet-sized challenge for parents Elayna and Marc Rathmann with their 18-year old triplets Gabbi, Matthew and Sophie. But with good planning, a spirit of cooperation and teamwork, they manage it well.
“My two siblings and I never leave the house without our plan for the day, especially since we share a car. We use an online calendar plus a family calendar, which is posted in the kitchen for our normal routine,” said Sophie.
The triplets drive each day from their home in Larkspur to attend Discovery Canyon Campus (DCC) in District 20 in Colorado Springs. This month, they completed the International Baccalaureate program at DCC and celebrated their high school graduation with family and friends from around the country.
Triplets are far less common than twins, occurring in approximately one out of 1,000 births, and most are fraternal rather than identical. Over the years, the Rathmanns have met other sets of triplets through local networks for families of “multiples.”
After Sept. 11, 2001, with airlines furloughing pilots, Marc’s career as a pilot flying 747’s for United Airlines shifted direction. During the same time, the military’s needs for pilots increased, opening an opportunity for Marc at the US Air Force Academy.
The Rathmann family moved from Indiana to Colorado Springs in 2002.
Elayna earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from the University of California-Berkeley and a BS from Indiana University in Bloomington.
She founded Rathmann Property Management in Colorado Springs and in 2006 became the director of congregational learning of Temple Shalom.
She has served as the executive director of Temple Shalom since 2014.
Sophie, Gabbi and Matthew celebrated their B’nai Mitzvah on March 17, 2012 at Temple Shalom and have served as madrachim at the synagogue’s religious school.
This year, Matthew taught fifth grade, Sophie taught sixth grade, while Gabi tutored B’nai Mitzvah students with Haftorah and Torah and helped with their community service projects.
Sophie remembers volunteering in Temple Shalom’s second grade classroom; this year, she has enjoyed teaching the same group of kids as older students for both Hebrew and religious school.
According to Deborah Sarna, the temple’s education coordinator, “Each one of the triplets has their own unique teaching style, yet they share their commitment and love of Judaism with each and every young student.”
During high school when the family traveled, they visited college campuses on both coasts. “Planning for college for triplets can be daunting,” Elayna says. “Like any siblings, they each have different interests and of course, different needs and personalities. In the end, our college search was a group effort.”
English has been Sophie’s favorite academic subject since eighth grade and she recently published a short story. She’s played varsity softball in high school and was captain of the junior varsity softball team. Interested in art, she took classes in methods such as encaustic (wax) art, sculpture, mixed media and watercolor.
Sophie has attended JCC Ranch camp’s equestrian program since the sixth grade; this summer, she will work as a wrangler-in-training, kitchen manager and assist with campers in the cabins.
Sophie plans to major in creative writing and education studies at Brandeis University.
Gabbi, like her siblings, played varsity softball throughout high school and plays violin as well as piano.
She intends to major in Near Eastern studies at the University of Michigan.
Gabbi earned an ROTC scholarship and plans to enter the Air Force after graduation. Her ROTC scholarship is focused on the long-term goal of becoming a language specialist for the Air Force. In addition to strengthening her Spanish and Hebrew skills, she plans to learn Arabic.
Matthew is an avid tennis player, competing in the 2016 Boys Tennis 4A Championships in Colorado and winning the high school’s first regional doubles championship with tennis doubles partner Chad Wireman.
He has also received an ROTC scholarship to study engineering at the Colorado School of Mines and plans to enter the Air Force after graduation along with Gabbi.
During college visits, Matthew decided to apply to relatively small universities, while Gabbi prefers a large university setting.
“We’ll always have each other to count on, as siblings, so even though I’ll be far away in Boston, I’m not worried,” shares Sophie.
On the Facebook page for freshmen entering Brandeis in the fall, Sophie discovered that two other triplets will be there without their siblings.
Elayna and Marc know that their lives are changing dramatically as their triplets head to college in different parts of the country. Yet the past few years have already brought significant changes
Col. Marc Rathmann retired from the US military after a 26-years career in April, 2016. He continues flying 747’s for United Airlines.
Elayna is still executive director of Temple Shalom.
“The empty nest might be a bit too quiet for us at first, but we still have our rescue dog, Shadow, at home,” she says.
“And of course we’ll keep in close touch with our three kids.”
Copyright © 2017 by the Intermountain Jewish News