YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – From January to mid-March, until the pandemic halted in-person meetings The Business Journal conducted panel discussions with 122 middle school and high school students from 12 schools in the five-county region.
Topics ranged from favorite school subjects and hobbies to careers and their communities.
While students from all grades said they enjoyed STEM curriculum, overwhelmingly the students indicated aspirations to attend college. Only a few planned to enter the trades, fewer still to enlist in the military.
College-bound students said they are concerned about the cost but are resigned to accruing debt. Students interested in the trades believe their schools could do more to promote the trades and offer more opportunities for students to explore alternative career paths.
Of those interviewed, students from inner city schools were more likely to want to stay in the area to live and work, while those from the suburban and rural schools were more likely to want to leave.
Reasons for wanting to leave include career and cultural opportunities, feeling disconnected from their communities or just wanting a big city experience. Those looking to stay cited wanting to help their community or remain close to family.
Panel discussions included:
- East Palestine Middle School – 22 students, fifth to eighth grades.
- Brookfield Middle School – 14 students, fifth to eighth grades.
- Springfield Local Intermediate School – 11 students, fifth to eighth grades.
- Campbell Middle School/Northeast Ohio Impact Academy – 15 students, seventh and eighth grades.
- Case Avenue Elementary, Sharon, Pa. – 11 students, fifth to eighth grades.
- Sharpsville Area Middle School, Sharpsville, Pa. – four students, fifth to eighth grades.
- Salem High School – 11 students, ninth to 12th grades.
- David Anderson Junior/Senior High School, Lisbon – 12 students, ninth to 12th grades.
- East High School, Youngstown – three students, ninth to 12th grades.
- Chaney High School (City Club of Mahoning Valley panel) – five students, ninth to 12th grades.
- West Middlesex High School, West Middlesex, Pa. – 14 students, ninth to 12th grade.
Reports and videos from each panel discussion can be found at BusinessJournalDaily.com/braingainyoungstown.
Pictured: Jeff Gill, Project Inspire instructor, discusses Columbiana County’s robotics program with Anna Marie Vaughn and Howard Rohleder, chairman of Columbiana County Educational Service Center business advisory council.