Time went fast, family members said, and the Santiago quadruplets are about to graduate high school.
Bianca, Faith, Jose Jr. and Miranda Santiago, 17, are wrapping up their senior years and preparing for life outside high school.
The girls, who attend Mercy High School, have warm memories of the last four years.
Having attended Bellevue Public Schools their entire lives with Jose Jr., they said it took time to adjust to Catholic school. As Mormons, they said it was challenging yet interesting to take theology.
Once they got used to it all, Bianca said they loved the school’s close-knit community.
Jose opted into Bellevue West High School from the Bellevue East attendance area as his father, Jose, had attended West.
“It’s definitely been interesting being on my own away from these three,” Jose said.
“Whenever people ask me if I have any siblings, I’m like ‘oh, yeah. I’m a quadruplet.’ They’re like ‘you’re a what?’”
A member for three years with West’s Air Force Junior ROTC, he’s been able to meet friends and become close with teachers.
He was also a student manager for the varsity football team. He worked the scoreboard, recorded practices and, this year, oversaw others who did the same. His favorite high school memory is attending the state championship in 2016.
Splitting the quadruplets was difficult, mom April said, but it was the best decision for them. Though not in school together, they all work at Chick-fil-A in Bellevue.
Throughout high school, the girls’ friend groups overlapped at times but overall were separate. As a shy freshman, Miranda said she was glued to her sisters’ side, but made her own friends and became more independent over time.
Still, they spent time together through activities, as they all love music and the arts.
Bianca and Faith were both involved in show choir and Mercy High Singers, an advanced select choir. This year, Miranda joined the tech side of show choir so they could bond. Miranda and Faith were also both involved in theater.
Jose also enjoys music. His sisters said he can listen to a song and figure out how to play it on his own.
“He’s like a piano prodigy,” Bianca said.
Those groups, along with speech team and poetry club, helped Miranda break out of her shell.
“It helped me be more sociable and branch out,” Miranda said. “I’m still pretty introverted, but I’m able to talk to people more and get out of my comfort zone.”
The girls graduate on Jose Jr.’s last day of school, May 16, and Jose graduates on May 26.
The family is planning for their graduation party and college move-ins, and anxiously awaiting to hear about scholarships and financial aid.
Miranda and Faith will attend Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho.
Miranda intends to study early childhood special education and serve an 18-month church mission trip in between.
Faith is unsure of what to major in but knows she wants to work with people, such as in music education or communications. She was randomly placed with three Nebraska suite mates who were also in show choir. April doesn’t think that’s a coincidence.
“The Lord has a plan for each of us, and Faith, she’s kind of been a little scared,” April said.
Bianca will attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She’s also going in undecided about a major, but is considering business and teaching.
“It will be cool to see us branch out even more when we go to college and really be able to be our own person,” Faith said. “Nobody’s going to know me as the quadruplet; people will know me as Faith, and I’m excited for that.”
Jose will be taking classes at Metropolitan Community College and participate in Bellevue Public School’s Project SEARCH program at Nebraska Medicine — Bellevue. Project SEARCH is a school-to-work transition program for high school students with significant disabilities.
He’s interested in a career in auto mechanics and wants to serve on a mission trip.
This is a frightening new time, they said, but they’re excited for the future.
“We’re going to be pushed into this new situation where we’ve always had someone with us growing up,” Miranda said. “It’s going to be scary, but we’ll be OK.”
While Jose Sr. and April are excited for them, it’s been an emotional time, and tears were shed.
They’ve been reminiscing on old memories, like lining them up to get the mail. Line leader was always a coveted spot.
“You just think back to the pregnancy, and all the complications, and then they were born 12 weeks early and they were in the NICU for three months,” April said.
“You don’t know if they’re going to survive, and then now they’re graduating. It’s emotional.”