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LOUDONVILLE -- A fondness for math and science, participation in the STEM program and membership in the school's robotics team have culminated in the pursuit of engineering careers for Loudonville High School Teens of the Month Cole Kirkbride and Austin Zody.
Kirkbride, of Loudonville, is the son of Ian and Kris Viets and Todd and Lisha Kirkbride. In the fall, he will pursue a degree at Ohio Northern University, where he has been admitted into the mechanical engineering program.
Zody, of Loudonville, is the son of Scott and Mary Zody. Zody has committed to the University of Akron where, he too, will study mechanical engineering in a five-year co-op program.
Being selected Teen of the Month, Kirkbride said feels "pretty good."
"I've worked pretty hard academically, and I appreciate getting recognized for that," he said, adding, "I've kept consistent grades, worked hard and was always involved in sports and extracurriculars."
Zody said it's an honor especially considering the high caliber of students in the senior class. "Cole and I have tried to take the most difficult classes we can. We've tried to challenge ourselves," he said, noting their selection is reflective of their ability to "balance a schedule," between sports, extracurriculars and community service involvement.
Kirkbride said he initially was drawn to engineering because "I was always good at science and math." And, with the establishment of STEM, he started in the program as a freshman, solidifying his love of working with computers.
Although he didn't enter the STEM program until his sophomore year, Zody said he made up lost time, dropping choir to catch up in the curriculum.
Both have participated in the robotics program, which Zody said nurtured his desire to work with a team. "It's been really great. I didn't know what I wanted to do until I got into STEM."
As part of a co-op program at Akron, Zody said he hopes to get a jump start into the engineering field by developing a relationship with a company that can help to set the stage for a future in which he hopes to be part of a team that can work on new designs and innovations that will change the way products are made. "I think it would be really great to work for Honda one day," he said.
Kirkbride will participate in a similar co-op program at Ohio Northern. Once degreed, he said, "I hope to be part of a company and have fun and enjoy a job being part of a team that is innovative. I don't want to just sit at a desk."
While he said he'll miss participating in symphonic choir, which has "been a great experience for me," Zody said he hopes to find new musical outlets at college. He said he looks forward to "getting out of my house and being on my own."
He said he is eager to soak in the "big campus experience," where he can "be around a lot of people who have the same interests as me" and starting on the path to "being able to make a name for myself out there."
Kirkbride said he'll miss all the friends he's made and relationships he's formed. "Some of these kids, I've known since we were 3," he said, noting he'll miss hanging out with them after school and practices.
But, he's looking forward to meeting new friends, furthering his education and learning mechanical engineering skills.
To younger students, Kirkbride advises, "Work hard and find something you love to do. You don't want to go through school and not know what you want to do."
Zody adds, "Get involved with all the programs you can. They really help boost your emotional side. Take part of groups and learn time management and get a study habit started."
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.