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Spotlight on Youth: Patrick J. Ritsko

| Sunday, April 29, 2012, 12:39 p.m.

Patrick Joseph Ritsko hopes to become a meteorologist either at a government institution or a television broadcasting station.

The 17-year-old Bethlehem-Center High School senior has been accepted at Ohio University at Athens and at Millersville University in Lancaster County. He's awaiting word from Penn State and North Carolina State to help him decide where to study.

His favorite subjects are math and science, with physics being top choice.

Ritsko's academic courses include advanced placement English, calculus, AP physics, humanities and French, in which he is in fourth year of study. At California University of Pennsylvania, his studies include European history, college algebra, pre-calculus and French.

His honors and awards are many. Ritsko is a highest honor student, listed among Who's Who Among American High Schools, named California Rotary Club Student of the Month and Beth-Center Student of the Month. He holds the Beth-Center Leo Club Silver Seal for 50 hours of community service and was named at the Student Recognition Luncheon.

He is a member of the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science, taking first place at the state meet, and holds a perfect score for the regional meet.

Ritsko attended the Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week at Lycoming College in Willimsport, gained the Rotary Youth Leadership Award from the University of Pittsburgh, and received the American Citizenship Award. Ritsko was a delegate to the American Society of Metals Materials Education Foundation held in Cleveland, Ohio.

Ritsko keeps a journal that outlines tasks. As a student leader, he learns how to manage people and "to adjust to people I don't know." He has learned body language from the FBI during the Cleveland visit. From Rotary, Ritsko learned "that yelling never works."

During free enterprise week, Ritsko watched financial markets. He likes politics and believes that government should work for the people. "Washington needs reformed," he said, pointing to his conservative views.

Ritsko's extracurricular activities include National Honor Society, student council president, French club, physics club, peer jury and high school announcer.

Ritsko has played trumpet for eight years and belongs to the marching, concert and jazz bands. He has played with Westmoreland Youth Symphony Orchestra, the PMEA District Music Festival, and for the past three years the Mon Valley Community Band. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus All-Star Band.

Ritsko works with the Make-A-Wish Foundation for its dance marathon and the fun run.

This busy young man also plays golf with Beth-Center's golf team. He is an avid Penguins and Steelers fan.

He is the son of William and Michelle Ritsko of Low Hill Road, near Brownsville. He has one brother, Matthew, who is 25 years old and works for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

When he finishes high school, Ritsko said he will miss teachers who have been very supportive.

"Teachers opened doors for me," he said.

Ritsko looks forward to a new start.

"You know everyone here," he said. "My biggest fear is not being known."

He cites American history, "the foundation of our country. If we understood history, we could avoid future crisis."

With not a lot of spare time, Ritsko said a school board representative gave him good advice: "Make time for family and friends."

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