See also:East High grads overcome adversity
Chaney High School Class of 2011
About 200 students graduated from Chaney High School Thursday afternoon in a commencement ceremony at Stambaugh Auditorium. Some details:
Valedictorian: Kaitlyn Cook
Salutatorian: Jennifer Caventer
Class colors: Red and gray
Source: Chaney graduation program
By Denise Dick
Kaitlyn Cook was born premature, and doctors said there was a 98 percent chance she wouldn’t survive.
“They said I’d be mentally retarded,” said Kaitlyn, 17.
Alex Mickler’s mother was diagnosed with cancer when he was in sixth grade. She encouraged him through school until losing her battle with the disease last February.
Despite their challenges, Kaitlyn and Alex, both members of the Chaney High School Class of 2011, kept focused on school.
The doctors were wrong about Kaitlyn.
She’s her class valedictorian and president and will enroll at the University of Mount Union this fall to study accounting and pre-law. She wants to be a corporate attorney.
Alex plans to study pre-nursing at Youngstown State University.
The roughly 200 members of Chaney’s 2011 class received their diplomas Thursday afternoon during a commencement ceremony at Stambaugh Auditorium.
Keynote speaker Sarah Brown-Clark, Youngstown municipal clerk of courts, told the graduates not to depend on anyone else for their happiness.
“You make your own happiness inside yourself,” she said.
Brown-Clark also urged the teens to build their minds, by learning a trade or attending college and by reading.
Superintendent Connie Hathorn told the students that their lives now will be about choices, and they can do whatever they want to do.
“The road to success is open,” he said. “But along the way, there will be a lot of traffic jams, a lot of roadblocks.”
Alex says he relied on his friends to help him through the hard times he suffered.
“Without my friends, I don’t know how I would have done it,” he said.
Kaitlyn said the multiple activities available to students at Chaney and the teachers involved with those activities helped her stay on the right path. She named theater and band.
“Band definitely helped keep me out of trouble,” Alex added.
Both students also are members of the Youngstown Connection and credited its director, Carol Baird, for her support.
“She’s like a mother to me,” Alex said. “Since my mother died, she’s become like my mother.”