Choffin’s positive growth illustrated

Pair of East High basketball coaches hired

YOUNGSTOWN — Perhaps the two words that make Sherry Cross smile the most these days are “growth” and “expansion.”

“We train in the community and we will stay in the community,” Cross, Choffin Career & Technical Center’s adult-education director, said. “Typically, students in adult education stay in the area.”

During the Youngstown Board of Education’s regular meeting Monday at Chaney High School, Cross summarized the positive direction, expansion and growth she feels the job training center is continuing to take.

In her report, Cross told the board that enrollment in Choffin’s practical nursing program has doubled this school year. Increases also have been seen in other programs such as its surgical technology and dental assistance offerings, she noted.

In addition, Choffin has been the recipient of a variety of grants, Cross said.

Choffin has 77 students, with a goal of reaching 83, a figure she referred to as “our gold number.” Reaching that benchmark will help defer costs associated with salaries and benefits, she said.

Specifically, a primary goal for the career and technical center is to have at least 17 students in the dental assistance program, a minimum of 28 in practical nursing, 23 in surgical technology and 15 across the board of programs, all of which adds up to 83, Cross noted.

All three of those programs can be completed within one year, she said, adding that many Choffin students end up in careers with a starting pay between $20,000 and $40,000 per year.

In addition, Choffin’s dental assistance, practical nursing and surgical technology programs are on the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation’s top jobs list for in-demand, medical field certificated programs, Cross said.

Choffin also is accepting applications. To apply, call the admissions office at 330-744-8720, or go to www.



Also during the meeting, the board accepted the hiring of Lavance Turnage Jr. and Anthony Pastella as East High School’s new men’s and women’s head basketball coaches, respectively.

“I want to hang a banner; it’s time East hangs a banner,” Turnage, a 2009 Ursuline High School graduate, said about his primary goal of taking the team to a championship.

Turnage will replace Chivas Whipple, who was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence and criminal damaging after an incident with his daughter in February in Liberty. Last month, the board decided not to have Whipple return to his other position as the district’s dean of students.

Turnage has served four years as East High’s assistant coach. He also was a star football player at Ursuline and part of the 2008 team that won the Division V football championship.

“I want to keep the program going in the right direction for these women,” said Patella, who has more than 20 years of coaching youth sports, including nine working with players ages 7 to 18.

He will replace longtime head women’s coach Tanisha Franklin.

Turnage and Patella will earn a stipend and their positions are not salaried, Nick Sferra, the district’s athletic director, said.


Also at the session, Penny Wells, Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past’s executive director, brought several high school students who returned early last month from an eight-day Sojourn to the Past American history immersion bus journey to key civil rights sites in four southern states. They also met and incorporated core lessons from several foot soldiers of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

Sharing their experiences and impacts the experience had on them were Lilly Snider, Sarah Kent, Sonny Seninsky and Yoad Rodriguez Lopez, all of Chaney High, and Thomas Wilson of Youngstown Rayen Early College.

A few of the students told board members they were greatly affected by Elizabeth Eckford and Minnijean Brown Trickey, two black students who integrated the all-white Central High School in September 1957 in Little Rock Arkansas, and paid a high price for their actions.

Several of the students articulated their commitment to be more forgiving toward others, incorporate the six principles of nonviolence into their lives and be accepting of others who are different from them.

Wells said that historical movements, including the 1957 school integration effort and the 1963 Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, Alabama, reinforce that today’s young people have the innate power to nonviolently make changes in the world and work for greater social justice. First however, it’s essential they work to make necessary changes within themselves, she added.

“I want people to know that Youngstown City Schools has produced amazing young people who are going to change the world,” Wells said, adding that student participants in Sojourn to the Past also earn a full history credit.

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