The staff of the Career Center had to get creative to come up with a method to make honoring the seniors possible, while still following the recommended guidelines for COVID-19. The annual program, which is normally held in an auditorium, was held at the school and conducted with a “twist” as a “Drive By” event to recognize the 79 seniors from the seven sending districts. Instructors and Instructional Aides manned tables along the sidewalk at the front of the school to greet the students and family members in their cars and distribute certificates, awards, a small gift and some snacks. Some students decorated their cars for the event. To adhere to current guidelines, staff wore masks and hand sanitizer was placed at each of the tables. The program began with the Career Center staff saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the front of the school. While music was playing and staff members applauded and cheered, Frank Magagnotti announced the name of each student and their program as they drove up to the front of the school. Any awards or scholarships the student earned were also announced.
Signs were posted along the school driveway honoring the top seniors in each program, scholarship and award winners, National Technical Honor Society members, students entering the military and students who scored Advanced in the NOCTI. Thirty-two students were recognized for achieving an Advanced score on the written NOCTI exam. The April practical ‘hands-on’ NOCTI testing was cancelled. Additional signs were posted to show support for the senior students. They were encouraged to honk their horns as they drove along the school drive. A photo station was set up at the end of the building to allow students and their families to take photos. Adding to the festivities, the Clarion Fire and Hose Company #1 brought one of their fire trucks and hung a large American flag from the front of the truck. The Career Center expresses their thanks to fire company members: Mike Chesterfield-Captain/President; Glenn Laform-Lieutenant; Justin Galati-Firefighter and Dan Porzio-Firefighter, for their time and effort at participating in the event.
Top seniors of each program were selected by their Instructors. They were awarded a cash prize and in some cases, additional prizes related to their program. Top seniors were:
- Alethea Moore – Allied Health (North Clarion)
- Ethan Thomas – Automotive (North Clarion)
- Daniel Long – Computer Networking (Union)
- Abigail Stewart – Cosmetology (A-C Valley)
- Jaykeb Porter – Construction (Keystone)
- Myka Best – Culinary Arts (Keystone)
- Riley Slaugenhaupt – Diesel (Redbank Valley)
- Jacey Pritt – Police Science (Keystone)
- Douglas Lawrence – Welding (Union)
Pat Kahle, President of Zacherl Motors, attended the event and greeted the recipient of the Michael & Marie Zacherl Outstanding Diesel Technology Student award – Riley Slaugenhaupt (Redbank Valley) as he drove up to the front of the school.
Frank Magagnotti, Cooperative Education Coordinator and a member of the Clarion Rotary, presented the Thomas B. Burkhardt Rotary Scholarship Award to: John Hankey (A-C Valley) who attended the Welding & Fabrication program. Mr. Burkhardt was a teacher at the Career Center, as well as an honored member of the Rotary at the time of his death. This scholarship is presented annually to the graduating cooperative education senior who best displays exemplary achievement on the job site. An additional Rotary District 7280 Outstanding Vocational Student award was also presented by Mr. Magagnotti to Justin Weaver in Construction Technology (Keystone).
Kathy Smerkar, daughter of Mary Kay Hartle, was on hand to present the Mary K. Hartle Most Outstanding Student award to Jacey Pritt (Keystone) in Police Science. The award is presented in memory of Mary Kay, a Health Assistant Instructor from 1976-1990. She is remembered for her motto of “Make Today Count”, which is printed on the award to allow Mary Kay to pass along that thought to others.
The Ron Perry Volunteerism Award was presented by Randy Shook (Ron’s son-in-law) to Olivia Montgomery-Tolbart (A-C Valley) who attended the Police Science program. Ron Perry served for many years on the school’s Joint Operating Committee, as well as volunteering his time to participate in many community activities. The JOC supports this award to recognize a student who follows Ron’s example by volunteering their time to support their community.
The Odd Fellows Home of Western PA provided a Citizenship scholarship for “Continuing Education” which was presented to Ashton Bowser (Automotive Technology/Union). A second scholarship award for “School-to-Work” was presented to Alexis Kriebel (Cosmetology/A-C Valley).
The Pennsylvania Builders Association awarded Construction student, Ian Beichner (Keystone) with the PBA Outstanding Student award. Also, Construction students Lucas Baker (Clarion Area), Jonathan Lee (Keystone) and Colby Mabold (North Clarion) were awarded tools from Marshalltown Tools.
The following students were recognized on signs posted along the school drive for their plans to enter the military after graduation: Martin Armstrong, Tyler Schmader, Robert Wolbert and Peter Wolfe – U.S. Army; Caleb Kline – U.S. Army National Guard; Colby Best, Allen May and Cejae Wyman – U.S. Army Reserves; Jaykeb Porter – U.S. Navy; Trinity Burke, Alissa Corvino and Dylan Cooper-Schroeder – U.S. Marines. The Career Center thanks these students in advance for their service.
COVID-19 has made the Class of 2020 face new challenges in order to participate in recognition and graduation ceremonies. These students will have great stories to tell in the future of why people were wearing masks and being passed awards and certificates through car windows. The Career Center staff and Joint Operating Committee wish the Class of 2020 the best of luck in their future.