EAST LIVERPOOL - A disability does not have to become a roadblock to success.
That was the message shared this week at the 10th annual East Liverpool High School Employer Appreciation Banquet held at United Brethren in Christ Church to honor those who make the high school Jobs Training Program a success.
Student Christine Valentine told a roomful of supporters, "Our disability does not have to become a roadblock, but just a small obstacle to be worked around for us to become successful," thanking the parents who support those involved in the program.
"Research shows that students who are gainfully employed come from homes where the parents support the goals of their child," Valentine said.
Teachers who "keep the learning process going for usby believing in our accomplishments outside of your classrooms" were thanked by student Alex Schneidmiller, who said, "You offer invaluable support to us by helping us decide what to do with our lives."
The Jobs Training Program involves local businesses and agencies that provide jobs and training for students, and this year, the program received its sixth Community Benefit Initiative Grant from East Liverpool City Hospital to pay the salaries of six students while they learned new jobs.
Five students involved in the program will graduate this May then return as "social graduates" to the program until the age of 22 to maintain services through the program.
Intervention specialist Arlene Angeloff said the students discover that making it through the program is "no easy task" and are evaluated weekly on their work in the classroom and on the job.
Job Training coordinator Pamela Gerace said the students want to be independent, living on their own and becoming tax paying rather than tax-supported citizens "because they know how much better life is when you call your own shots in your own world."
In addition to honoring the students, parents and businesses that support the program, three people were awarded for their achievements.
Trainee of the year honors went to student Rebecca Hall, who Gerace commended for taking every directive and suggestion to improve her skills and for taking ownership in her work site and understanding the value of team work, coming in even on her days off.
Jodi Quimby was honored as employee of the year for her efforts at both the class candy-making business and L&B Donut Shoppe, with Gerace saying, "We constantly use her and her employer as role models for other students and businesses to emulate."
Advocate of the year was Chuck Keyes, who Gerace said has "given unselfishly" over 14 years to students in the Job Training Program, from its inception with a partnership with East Liverpool Motor Lodge, the first training site.
Keyes "took the students who had greater social/emotional instability and treated them as an equal and someone worth hiring," she said. Keyes recently began in the maintenance department at Heights Manor.
Guest speaker for the event was Linda Cormany, patient resource coordinator at East Liverpool City Hospital, who spoke on the importance of relationships.
Also offering remarks were high school career/tech education Director Jay Kiger, and Superintendent James Herring offered the welcome.