In an anything-but-normal school year, the Cuyahoga Falls High School PTSO wanted to do something special for this year’s graduating class. “We have 300 seniors who have endured a lot this past year and never complained,” said Susan Keller, PTSO co-president. “We are very proud of them, and wanted to create a special sendoff for them.”
In April, the PTSO set out to generate funds to purchase 300 $25 gift cards from local businesses. One card will be given to each graduating senior. “We know it’s difficult to do this during a pandemic. Everyone has been impacted so much,” explained Keller.
The PTSO’s initiative caught the attention of Stark State College. “We were very touched by the PTSO’s fundraiser and wanted to get involved,” said Shelly McCombs, Director College Credit Plus and Career Technical Education for Stark State College. As a result, Stark State made a contribution to help jumpstart the PTSO campaign, and offered free tuition to every graduating CFHS senior for the Fall 2021 semester.
“Stark State’s contribution is phenomenal on many levels,” said Allison Bogdan, CFHS principal. “The PTSO can leverage the donation to reach out to local businesses and see if they’d match gift card purchases, which helps to both reach the PTSO’s goal and stimulate our local economy. And, the free tuition gives our students who can’t afford college an opportunity to pursue college at no cost.”
“Stark State has always been a great partner in our schools,” said Bogdan. “They also will be offering our students unique Learn to Earn pathway options making them marketable to the workforce right out of college, or giving them a head start on their college education path upon graduation.”
“Through Stark State’s Learn to Earn pathways, Cuyahoga Falls students can earn college credits and industry-recognized credentials that lead to high-demand jobs in Information Technology, Medical Coding, HVACR, Automotive, Welding, and more,” said McCombs. “Students get to interact with employer partners and prepare for a 12- point industry credential that meets the high school graduation requirements. All credits also can be applied toward an associate degree at Stark State and beyond after high school.”