By JOSH ECHT
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Sixth-grader Latifah Stanley says she will not give up.
And she says she will never forget the many lessons her teachers at Youngstown Community School taught her.
"If you give up, you'll never succeed," she said.
Latifah is one of 44 sixth-graders who graduated Friday morning from YCS. The 344-pupil charter school, located at 50 Essex St., produced its first graduating class since its inception nearly seven years ago.
"I love the fact that the staff sets high goals and expects children to live up to them," said Paula Johnson, Latifah's mother.
Mazurennae Clark said she is happy to graduate but she will miss many things about the school.
"I feel happy and sad," she said. "I'm happy to graduate, but I'm going to miss the teachers because of the 'work pressure.'"
Mazurennae said "work pressure" came in the form of her teachers' giving her and her classmates random pop quizzes when they weren't expecting them.
"She'd give us these quizzes to see how we'd react," she said. "She wanted us to stay prepared."
Fellow classmate Aaliyah Chilton said she will miss YCS.
"The school taught me manners and respect," she said.
Most of the pupils who graduated are among the first group to enroll at the school.
"We're thrilled today because most of the students have been here since the beginning," said Sr. Jerome Corcoran, executive director of YCS and Millcreek Children's Center, which is an affiliate child-care program next door.
State and federal funding helps the school and the 50 children at the children's center.
Sr. Mary Dunn, YCS principal, said the school became a charter school in July 1998 and opened its doors in September. During the ceremony, Corcoran recognized benefactors such as Denise DeBartolo York, who played a large role in the school's creation and operation.
Graduate Jordan Moore said he enjoyed how the teachers took time to help him with problems.
"They helped me understand something, even when it was hard," he said. Jordan's cousin went to YCS and recommended it to him.
Eraysha Campbell, Jordan's classmate, said she will miss Corcoran.
"She helped people with their problems," she said.