TWINSBURG — Dissecting cow hearts. Conducting surgery on live rats. Learning to code. Writing a research report.

These are but a few of the activities in which students enrolled in the Academy at Twinsburg High School have participated.

The district launched its second year of the academy this year, which aims to pair area businesses with students in the academy to provide career experiences for students. The opening evening Aug. 29 attracted 121 people.

The academy allows "students to explore fully what is available outside of high school," said Norm Potter, curriculum supervisor. Potter said he hopes the academy can offer internships and job shadowing opportunities.

Potter said that 107 students registered for the academy that evening. At last year’s kick off, 48 students registered.

There are three pathways — business and manufacturing, health care and administration, and human performance/recreational management.

Superintendent Kathryn Powers said that technology has changed both schooling and jobs. Many jobs that exist today will be phased out due to technology, and children going to school today are likely to go into jobs "that haven’t even been created yet," Powers says.

Sophomore Jessica Dhesi said participating in the Twinsburg Academy "has helped me decide to take the medical field." She said that she had the opportunity to not only dissect a cow heart and lung, but to meet professionals in medicine.

"You have to go up to them and build that connection," Jessica said. "That got me out of my comfort zone."

Tiger sophomore Isan Kalhan said the academy "helped me get an idea on what the business world is like."

"I’m keeping my options extremely open for the future," he said. He is considering careers in aviation and entrepreneurship, "such as opening a restaurant."

The kickoff event featured Matt Fish, the founder of Melt Bar & Grilled, which specializes in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.

"I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit," Fish said. "I was the kid with the lemonade stand, the one organizing the garage sales. I had a paper route when I was 12. I stocked shelves when I was 14. When teachers asked what do you want to be when you grow up, little Matt always said, ‘I want to own my own business.’ I didn’t know what kind of business at the time, but I knew I wanted to own my own business."

Today, he owns 10 of the popular craft grilled cheese spots and three satellite restaurants in Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Dayton and Columbus, including a full restaurant in Cedar Point.

"I loved Cedar Point as a kid," Fish said. "When you get a message from Cedar Point saying, ‘hey, one of our restaurants just left and we want you to come in,’ you better believe that you are dashing to the phone to say ‘yes, I’m interested.’"

Fish told prospective business owners that they needed to be prepared to work hard, especially in the restaurant industry, which has an 80 percent fail rate.

"Restaurant work is not easy," he said. "It’s hard. It’s not a punch card, 9-to-5 job. I often work six to seven days a week. I see it all the time. Someone watches a show about a glam chef, and they think that’s what they want to do. So they enroll in culinary school, they graduate, they go to work in a restaurant, and realize they hate it."

He added that by the time he opened his second restaurant, he often worked 80 to 100 hours a week.

"I’m often asked how I did it," he said. "I honestly don’t know how I did it."

The idea for a gourmet grilled cheese restaurant "came out of nowhere," Fish said.

"I loved grilled cheese, it was a staple for me as a kid," he said. "My goal was if I could grill it between two pieces of bread and put some cheese on it, I’m going to try it."

Fish told those attending the kick off that "there’s no textbook to success."

"There’s no right or wrong way to get to the end," he said. "But don’t get to the end too fast. Enjoy being a kid as long as you can. You are going to fail. You are going to fall on your face, but you have to learn from your mistakes."

For details on the academy, visit online.

Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423,, or @AprilKHelms_RPC