YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Despite missing more than a quarter of the school year because of the coronavirus pandemic, students at Choffin Career & Technical Center will still be able to meet the criteria to graduate. They’ll have earned credentials that can be applied to furthering their education or entering the workforce.
Choffin, which offers an alternate pathway to graduation for students at East and Chaney high schools, uses “a lot of the rules and pathways to graduation that are set up for career and technical education” that schools typically build into a student’s senior year, says Mike Saville, one of three principals at the school. Among the criteria is ensuring that students obtain industry certifications, particularly OSHA 10 and CPR/First Aid, which students usually earn at the end of their junior year or beginning of their senior year, he says.
“This year, we front-loaded a lot of the juniors with that anyway. But we were also able to hit a lot of the seniors with that too,” Saville says. “We’re ahead of the game in getting students on track to graduate.”
In 2019, 100% of students earned the OSHA credential, he notes, and all students earned the CPR/First Aid credential this year.
In January, juniors and some seniors in the welding and automotive technology programs earned certifications from the American Welding Society and Automotive Service Excellence, respectively.
For students planning to attend college, programs such as auto tech and criminal justice offer credit hours that can be applied to college, Saville says.
“So they’re well beyond their first year in college by going through Choffin,” he says.
The firefighting training portion of the criminal justice program took “a little hit” because of the lapse, he says. The school is working through some issues with required hours. “We’ll find a way in the summer to get those hours made up,” he says.
With some clinical sites closing according to the state’s stay-at-home order, allied health students weren’t able to earn the required clinical time needed for the certification, Saville says. However, Choffin recently added a credential with the National Incident Management System to train students in situational awareness during emergencies.
“That certification, while it’s very broad based, is actually intended to create a well-roundedness with the students,” Saville says. “We felt it was a valuable one. Plus it’s also recognized by the Department of Education through the public safety pathway.”
Choffin uses that credential as a basic requirement for all programs, so if students in allied health or other programs don’t meet their hours for that specific discipline, they can still graduate as long as they earn the credential from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, he says.