VISION PLAN Canfield students offer their views of hometown

Students expressed concern about the lack of diversity.
CANFIELD -- To some young people, Canfield is a safe community where pupils receive a good education that allows them to go to college.
Those same young people, however, also feel that Canfield is a community with an overzealous police department and little for young people to do socially.
That's what about a dozen Canfield High School students in Dave Costello and Joyce Stoffer's Practical Data Applications class said Tuesday when asked about the strengths and weaknesses of their community. Students in the class are asked to answer questions such as, "Who will be the first minority president?" using facts and data.
The discussion also was a part of the effort to create a "vision plan" for Canfield's future. Comments made by the class will be used to help create the plan, which is expected to address issues stemming from the growth of the community.
Canfield Township is expected to be the top community in Mahoning and Trumbull counties for single-family housing construction this year.
Praise for schools
Senior Erika Carter, 17, said she appreciates that the quality of the schools in Canfield give many students a good chance at going to college.
"A lot of us go on to college or higher education," she said. Another student noted that he knew of some families who moved to Canfield because of the quality of the schools.
Carter also said that Canfield police arrive quickly when called to an emergency.
Other students added, however, that they believe police are too strict. Senior Ryan Connors, 17, expressed dismay that while he was in middle school, police ended students' tradition of having a shaving-cream fight on the city green to mark the end of the year.
Several students also said they felt like they didn't have any social options in the community.
"The closest thing is Cleveland and Pittsburgh," Carter said. Junior Ben Reese, 16, joked, "We have a gazebo."
"You go to the mall, the same movies, the same stores; it gets repetitive," said senior Robert Frankle.
Resistance to change
Frankle added that he believed Canfield was being held back by long-time residents who want to maintain a small-town atmosphere. He said officials should limit housing construction in the community while encouraging business development.
Business development also could help raise needed tax revenue, Frankle said.
"Everywhere you look, there's residential growth. It seems like there'd be more productive uses" for property in Canfield, he said. "We have a lot of people who were born and raised here who don't want to see it grow."
Students also expressed concern about the stereotype that all people from Canfield are wealthy, as well as the lack of diversity in the community.
"We're all the same. ... It's like a big bubble," Connors said. Frankle added that "people aren't exposed to different cultures. It's almost a shell shock when some people go to college."
Planners from Indiana
The discussion was led by David Benefiel, a graduate student from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., who is part of a group of Ball State students and planners working on the vision plan. The Ball State group was hired by the nonprofit Canfield Foundation to direct the effort to create the plan.
The group also collected comments from another Canfield High School class earlier in the day.
Public meetings also were held Monday and Tuesday nights to collect comments for the plan.

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