Valley seniors recognized at scholarship breakfast


A recognition breakfast recently took place to honor the recipients of the J.L. Francis Scholarship, First Place Community Fund, at A La Cart Catering on May 11. The breakfast was organized by the Mahoning County Educational Service Center on behalf of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley which manages the First Place Community Fund and disperses the moneys for the scholarship.

Twenty-two high school seniors, one from each public high school in Mahoning County, as well as Choffin Career Center, Ursuline and Cardinal Mooney, each received a $1,000 college scholarship. These individuals were honored for their dedication to service, while maintaining a high level of achievement in their high school studies. Each student was chosen from the top 10 sudents in their graduating classes.

MCESC Superintendent Ronald Iarussi welcomed the scholarship recipients and their guests to the program.

“Good morning everyone. Welcome to the J.L. Francis Scholarship Breakfast. This is a great event and we always look forward to it because we know summer is coming and it is a time of new beginnings for the students. To our award winners, I would encourage you to spread your wings and fly, but I also encourage you to come back to the Valley to help grow this area. We need folks like you here to grow our future. I would like to take a moment to thank the parents here today. You should take great pride in your children. And thank you to the school administrators who are here today for helping to produce such talent. Thank you for being here and I hope you enjoy this event,” Iarussi said.

After breakfast was served, Casey Krell, director of supporting organizations and donor services of the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley spoke to the large audience.

“We are pleased to be able to support theses students in their pursuit of higher education. You are so deserving and so commendable. We wish you the best in your future endeavors. Thank you,” Krell said.

Kim Davis, MSESC director of teaching and learning, Iarussi and Krell, awarded the students their certificates. Davis read a short bio of each student before the students announced who was at the breakfast them, their future plans and their field of study.

Paula Roberts, MCESC instructional supervisor, provided closing remarks.

“Amazing, aren’t they? I am in awe of the passion these students have. It is humbling to be in the presence of so many amazing students. The hope is there. It is going to be OK, they will carry on. One more round of applause for these amazing students. I would like to give special thanks to the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, A La Cart Catering, MCESC Governing Board, MCESC Teaching and Learning Department, MCESC Technology, MCESC Production Department and MCESC Community Engagement. To the soon-to-be-grads, you have shown you understand the value of being involved and making a difference. The rewards are boundless. Remember that as you travel down your path,” Roberts said.

The recipient from Austintown Fitch High School was senior Breanna Crone. She will attend Youngstown State University in the fall to study forensic chemistry.

Boardman High School’s recipient of the J.L. Francis Scholarship, First Place Community Fund was senior Pranav Padmanabhan. He will attend The Ohio State University in the fall to study computer science and engineering.

The Canfield High School scholarship recipient was senior Sareena Sethi, daughter of Drs. Manu and Sangeetha Sethi. She will attend Emory University in Atlanta in the fall to study pre-med/biology.

Poland Seminary High School senior Rachel Moward was the school’s recipient of the J.L. Francis Scholarship, First Place Community Fund. Moward was chosen from among the top 10 students in the PHS graduating class. She will attend the University of Cincinnati in the fall to study chemical engineering.

In administering this scholarship, the Mahoning County Educational Service Center is able to support the youth of Mahoning County in their pursuit of continuing education. The recipients have successfully met the grade point average requirements and have also demonstrated a commitment to their schools and communities through volunteer service and involvement during their high school years.

The J.L. Francis Scholarship was established during the 2005-06 academic school year for schools in Mahoning County by the First Place Bank and the First Place Bank Community Foundation. Before his death in 2005 from ALS, Jeffery L. Francis served as Chief Operating Officer of First Place Bank and the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the First Place Financial Corporation. His hard work and dedication inspired the creation of this scholarship. In 2014, the First Place Community Foundation fund was transferred to the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley which maintains a 50 year tradition of supporting continued education.

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