Choffin Career and Technical Center expands its reach

YOUNGSTOWN — Choffin Career and Technical Center is enjoying widespread growth and expansion on several fronts — namely enrollment, scope and outreach — an administrator contends.

“We’ve had our biggest enrollment numbers in six years,” Michael Saville, Choffin’s director, said.

In an effort to showcase some of that growth, state Rep. Nick Santucci, R-Howland, was invited to take part in a tour of the facility and several of its labs Monday. The tour coincided with an open house for incoming juniors.

“The students will know exactly what we’re about,” Saville said about the open house’s primary goal.

Overall, an estimated 400 juniors and seniors are enrolled this year, up significantly from last year. An additional 60 seniors will attend after a career-based intervention program is launched at the start of the school year, he said.

Saville noted that two of the programs under the adult education umbrella — surgical technology and practical nursing — are full this school year.

The adult education program, which includes a dental assisting component, has 75 students this year, which is up significantly from 22 last year, Sherry Cross, program director, noted.

The uptick in the number of high school students can be attributed largely to “the great relationship with school counselors, so we’re able to guide the students in the right direction” regarding providing valuable skills to prepare them for the workforce, Saville explained.

Another relatively new addition to Choffin’s curriculum is a YOUmed academy for juniors and seniors, under which are programs that include physical therapy care, exercise science and dental assisting, he said.

Santucci noted that invested in the recently passed biennial state budget are hundreds of millions of dollars for career-technology centers across Ohio, including Choffin.

Calling such facilities “a direct pipeline into the workforce,” Santucci said much of the funding will be used to improve the centers’ infrastructure and overall ability to serve young people seeking good-paying careers.

Another important factor is to get more students into the career and technical centers statewide, which will allow more of them to enter the job market faster, Santucci said. He added that it’s up to each career center across the state regarding how to use the funding and related resources.

Others who expressed gratitude about Choffin’s trajectory included Joseph Meranto, who served 14 years as its principal and administrator.

“This technical center is the key to revitalizing this whole Valley. It’s a jewel in the center of town,” Meranto, who sits on the Youngstown Board of Education, said.

Meranto added that he hopes to consider having the career and technical center offer half-day choices for students who wish to pursue career technology but don’t want to attend a full day.

An inherent value of Choffin is that it can make high school students and adults realize that a four-year degree isn’t always mandatory in obtaining a successful, good-paying job. In addition, many unfilled positions remain in the Mahoning Valley and beyond, Meranto observed.

Cross said she was pleased to see the adult education programs experience growth, especially because many people wrongly assumed that such offerings had been moved to nearby Eastern Gateway Community College when it opened downtown.

“We are alive and well, and accepting applications,” Cross added.


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