Education

New Elevator Lifts Potential Development High School

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio ­­– Potential Development High School, 2405 Market St., celebrated its new elevator Thursday with a ribbon cutting and tour of the renovated second floor.

“The elevator project enabled us to access the second floor, the upper floor of the building, that we were able to renovate and add eight classrooms,” said Executive Director Paul Garchar. “We can serve up to an additional 50 students on the upper floors. It was very important to our enrollment.”

Potential Development opened the high school in 2013 in the former Anthem building to provide services to teens with autism. In addition to core classes, teens receive life and work skill training to help prepare them for post-school life.

The elevator was put into service last October. Before the start of the school year, Potential Developmental used only the first floor of the building.

“With the elevator, since we knew we were going to put it in, we knew we could make it up to the second floor, so now we’re using all levels,” said Jodi Harmon, marketing and special events coordinator.

“We do have a student who is in a wheelchair,” she elaborated, “so it was very important to us to make sure that the elevator was installed.”

The Hine Memorial Fund, J. Ford Crandall Foundation, Walter & Caroline Watson Foundation, Berlin Fund and other philanthropies donated $236,000. The remaining $120,000 came from two agency fundraisers, Mahoning Valley Pizza Cook-Off and Mahoning Valley Sports Trivia Championship.

The Youngstown Foundation gave a $25,000 grant toward the renovation of two classrooms. Hine Memorial Fund awarded $100,000 to support the renovation of the high school’s model apartment, fitness room and fine arts learning center.

“We started the high school here with 12 students back in 2013. And our enrollment has just taken off,” Garchar said. “We’re up to almost 56 students now, and it just continues to grow. The interest keeps coming in.”

With the new elevator and renovated classroom space, Potential Development has room to accommodate more growth, Garchar said.

“Not every single classroom is full,” he said. “So it’ll give some flexibility as our enrollment continues to grow.”

Potential Development began as a preschool and expanded to an elementary school and then a high school.

Parents of students with autism “were looking for a choice,” Garchar said.

In the future, Garchar hopes a graduate of Potential Development will attend either Eastern Gateway Community College or Youngstown State University.

Pictured: Cutting the ribbon are Mike Fagan, project architect and Potential Development board member, Sue Stricklin, board president, Crissi Jenkins, Hine Memorial Fund, Paul Garchar, executive director, and Ted Downie, board member. 

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.