The Myers triplets are about to head in different directions.
Ashley, Brittany and Cory, now 18, graduate May 17 from Columbia High School. Ashley will cross the river to Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., to study athletic training. Cory will head to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, for business finance, and Brittany, to California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, 40 minutes from Los Angeles. Her summer internship begins in early June.
“It was bound to happen,” said Cory, of their separation.
“It’s still sad,” said Ashley. “They are my best friends.”
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“We will miss each other,” said Cory. “We’ve been togrther for so long.”
The ABC triplets first surprised their parents in an ultrasound at 17 weeks. Keith and Donna Myers, who already had 2-year-old Kayla, thought there was just one baby.
“I remember that moment,” said Keith, who works for Ameren. “It’s kind of overwhelming at first. Like anything else in life, you face it head on.”
“I was kind of happy,” said Donna, a fourth-grade teacher at Parkview Elementary, “but scared and nervous. ... It was hard, especially the first year.”
“It’s been something incredible,” said Keith. “We are lucky to have three healthy children who have grown into smart active adults.”
Born Dec. 30, 1996, they were dubbed the ABC triplets. The proud grandparents are Shirley and Will Myers, of Columbia, and Cal and Mary Donjon, of Waterloo.
In an Aug. 25, 2002, newspaper story before the triplets entered kindergarten, they posed beneath the first letter of each of their names.
“We don’t know what it’s like not to be triplets,” said Cory. “You always have somebody there. You don’t have to worry about people thinking bad about you. You always have two people on your side.”
“It makes school a lot easier,” said Brittany.
The three describe themselves as easygoing and relaxed.
“They always had to be to deal with each other,” said Donna. “All their time had to be split.”
“There have been different times in their lives where they have gotten accolades,” said Keith. “They never have been jealous, just proud of each other. It’s pretty neat.”
They’re “stupid-funny” when together, but serious about pizza, alternating which place to order their favorite.
From the start, Keith and Donna treated them as individuals.
“You started by not giving us the same outfits,” said Cory.
They ended up with varied interests.
“I like to run a lot,” said dark-haired Ashley, the early riser of the three. “I run cross-country. I used to play soccer. I got hurt. Being hurt for so long, I wanted to be active. Running is a stress reliever. I wanted to go to do athletic training, help athletes on the field. I’m interested in how the body works.”
This summer, she’ll be running to get ready for her college cross-country team.
“I started on my own,” Ashley said, “one mile. It got to the point, it was 13 miles. I did a half-marathon. I had the time of my life.”
“She was smiling,” said Keith. “I’m thinking, ‘What’s wrong with her?’”
Brittany draws and does art.
“I’m going to art school in California. It’s kind of where you have to be if you want to go into animation. I had a lot of connections. I met people who kind of helped me along.”
“People in the industry saw your work,” said Keith.
Brittany has a blog (brittanymyersart.blogspot.com/). She uses a Cintiq tablet that she describes as “like a TV you can draw on.”
“We knew about (the blog) before they did,” said Ashley.
“By the time she told us, she had 15,000 followers,” said Keith.
Cory is Student Council president and one of nine valedictorians.
“I knew I wanted to go to a big school,” said Cory. When he learned Alabama gave full tuition for an ACT score of 32 or above and a grade-point average of 3.5 or above, that sealed the deal.
“I didn’t want to deal with student loans and I do like football,” said Cory. “I’m a St. Louis Rams fan. Dad wanted a son that was. It worked out. I wasn’t really big into college football. I’m a big fan of Alabama Crimson tide.”
“They are all good students,” said Keith. “Ashley is tied for salutatorian, Brittany is in the 3.9-3.8 range.”
Brittany baby-sits after school; Cory works at Schnucks and Ashley practices her cross-country running.
Growing up, conflicts among the three were minor. The girls remember one.
“I was in middle school,” said Ashley, who distanced herself from her sister. “I was trying to be cool.”
Brittany: “I told her, ‘One day, you are going to appreciate me.’”
Classmates sometimes didn’t realize they were triplets.
“There was a girl who moved to our school in fifth grade,” said Brittany. “In seventh grade, I was standing in the lunch line. She said, ‘Cory has the same last name.’ I said, ‘So does Ashley. We’re triplets.’ ‘What?’”
“I had someone this week,” said Cory, “an acquaintance a year younger I was talking to. I mentioned something about being a triplet ...”
“I am proud of that,” said Donna.
Keith and Donna will celebrate their good students with a party on May 24. Sister Kayla, dramatic and strong-willed, is graduating from SIUE with a applied communications degree. The day after the party, they will pack the car and take Brittany to California.
“The thing that’s going to keep us busy,” said Donna, “is we are planning on downsizing, getting into a smaller home. Without four kids being here, our house doesn’t need to be that big.
“Donna and I, we know this is coming,” said Keith. “It’s part of life.”
The Myerses have always been planners.
“I wanted to get (Kayla) out of diapers before they were born,” said Donna.
Times change. Goals change.
“I knew with triplets, driving was coming up,” said Keith. “Over a year and a half period, I bought three used cars.”
And when Kayla headed off to SIUE?
“We were trying to get her out of college,” said Donna, “before they started.”
Kayla gets three cheers for finishing in three years.
“That helped us out financially,” said Keith.