Choffin hails its newest alums

YOUNGSTOWN — Clifton Scott said he knew construction was the field for him from his first day at Choffin Career and Technical Center.

“I fell in love with construction as soon as I got into class and built my first birdhouse,” he said.

Scott, who also will graduate from Chaney High School next month, walked across the stage Tuesday at Choffin’s commencement ceremony for students in the Academy of Business & Entrepreneurship, Academy of the Skilled Trades, Career Based Intervention, and Job Training programs.

On Monday, students in the Academy of the Arts, YOUMed Academy and Public Safety Academy were recognized. More than 100 students from across the Youngstown City School District graduated from Choffin this year.

“You overcame many challenges to get here,” said school social worker Mary Boyd, who also announced her retirement from the district Tuesday. “Your future is bright. Your dreams can come true.”

Dr. Mike Saville, the school’s director, praised the students for their accomplishments and also thanked all of their parents and guardians in the audience.

“I want to thank you personally, because you are the partnership that we need, at home, to ensure that our students are ready to be successful,” he said.

Joining them and other administrators on the dais, as keynote speaker, was Youngstown native Mark Jackson, a graduate of the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University, where he founded the YSU Gospel Choir. Jackson also is the leader of The Light Church on Bennington Avenue, founder of the Genesis School of Performing Arts and a Grammy-nominated musician. He wanted students to take five ideas away from their big day. The first, he said, is the most important: know who you are.

“If you know who you are, then you will know who you are not,” he said. “I challenge you to not compare yourself. President Theodore Roosevelt said ‘comparison is the killer of contentment.”

Jackson also told them to know why they are, in other words to find their purpose, know what they do and be the best at it, to know their dream, and know their team.

“There are people who want you to win, and people who don’t,” he said. “You’ll never get to the right places, being connected with the wrong people. You need to have people around you who will push you, challenge you and tell you all the things you don’t want to hear, so you can grow and be successful.”

After students all crossed the stage, hearing their names and goals read aloud, additional honors were presented, including the Outstanding Scholar award to each instructor’s personally selected exemplar. Those winners were Zeniyah Keaton from Cosmetology, Jazlyn Alvarez from Physical Therapy, Keveona Crockett from Culinary Arts, Paige Griffiths from Digital Graphic Design and Imaging, Hannah Daily from Early Childhood Education and Taylor Christian from Welding.

On Monday, Niara Keyes from Medical and Allied Health, Jaiona Clark from Personal Fitness Health and Wellness, and Trinity Gilmer from Dental Assisting were honored with the award.

Choffin also welcomed Amanda Armeni and her sister Carla Rose, to present a scholarship in honor of their father, Neil Buzzacco — a YCSD employee who died in 2020. Laura Davies won a $2,000 scholarship, while Clifton Scott and Cortez Arroyo won $500 scholarships.

Have an interesting story? Contact Dan Pompili by email at dpompili@vindy.com.


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