Potential Development students graduate with bright futures ahead

Although the program in Youngstown caters to students with autism, the executive director says the school sees nothing but ability and potential

Potential Development School hosts its second graduation ceremony.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The Potential Development Program in Youngstown hosted a ceremony Wednesday afternoon for its second graduating class.

Although Potential Development caters to students with autism, Executive Director Paul Garchar says the school sees nothing but ability and potential in them.

“It was a great day. Students have a lot to celebrate. They put in a lot of hard work, they earned their diplomas same as any other high school student in the area, and today was their day to celebrate.”

That’s especially true for John Sallustio, one of the program’s five high school graduates, who says there is no better feeling.

“It feels awesome. I can go out in the world, get my job because I have my diploma now…It’s just awesome.”

Sallustio has big plans for the future.

“I’m going pre-med. I’m gonna transfer over to Johns Hopkins if I can get accepted. Got all A’s throughout the year, so I’m gonna be an ER doctor.”

Mayor John McNally was one of the speakers at the ceremony. He addressed the graduates from the podium and congratulated them individually on their accomplishments.

Mike Cornelius, a science and social studies teacher, says he is thrilled for his students.

“Fantastic. I mean, to see these young people take the next step, I couldn’t be prouder.”

Cornelius says the school’s secret to success lies in its teaching style.

“We are able to give one-on-one attention. We are able to dedicate ourselves to any needs…that you have. We can work with it, we can fix it, we can help you.”

Garchar says it is teachers like Cornelius that make the school so special.

“I have to say it’s the staff. The staff are in the room every day. They have the patience…It’s also the parents that trust us with their students. Without the parents and the families, we wouldn’t be anywhere.”

He says that enrollment in the school continues to grow each year.

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