BROCKWAY – Opportunity.
That was the theme at the third graduating class at the Brockway Center for Arts and Technology Wednesday, as 22 students received certifications as Medical Assistant and Pharmacy Technicians.
BCAT is a unique collaboration between Pittsburgh-based Mancheste-Bidwell and its founder, Bill Strickland, state Sen. Joe Scarnati and Brockway businessman Peter Varischetti.
Manchester-Bidwell’s model offers adult job training and education opportunities for youths. The Brockway center was the first foray into a rural setting. It is situated in a portion of the former Brockway Glass Main Office headquarters building.
The training that culminated in Wednesday’s graduation is a nine-month course of instruction offered tuition-free to the students and including two national certification examinations.
“BCAT is growing,” Varischetti said. “We hit a home run and the ball is still sailing.”
“This is truly a model for education, across the state and the nation,” Scarnati said. Addressing the graduates, he said, “You took the initiative; that is what separates those who succeed from those who don’t. Initiative and courage will carry you a long way.”
Brittanei Neubert of Ridgway, co-valedictorian n the Medical Assistant Class, said, “I am ready to face anything that is thrown my way. Bring it on.”
Co-valedictorian Courtney Walker of Penfield said, “I will always cherish” the experience at BCAT, adding that all 22 graduates passed their national certification exams.
Ashley McAninch of Brookville, Pharmacy Technician valedictorian, said, “I can’t help feel that this is just a dream” and thanked Scarnati, Varischetti and the Varischetti family for “making this dream a reality.”
BCAT Executive Director Deborah Heigel said she is “extremely proud” of the class, noting that “They’ve worked very hard. We’ve worked together. We’ve worked diligently.
“Always remember that you were here,” she said. “Appreciate your skills; share them. What you are going to do is important.”
Individual members of the classes were presented by Deborah Grunthaner, director of MA, and Dr. Joseph Spencer, Pharmacy Tech instructor. The BCAT staff also includes Nicole Snyder, Kristine Gasbarre, Shelley Hanes, Dr. Gary McGee and Dr. David Parrott.
The BCAT board of directors includes Peter Varischetti, president; Dan Hawkins, vice president; Sue Snelick, secretary; John Sutika, treasurer, and John Blasdell, Duane Vicini, William E. Strickland Jr. and Ray Calhoun.
Megan Hoy sang the National Anthem and Renee Tuning provided instrumental selections, the processional and the recessional.
Medical Assistant graduates include Maureen Amacher of Ridgway, Kayla Bailey of Brockway, Christi Fleeger of DuBois, Megan Hoy of St. Marys, Hannah Johnson of St. Marys, Tiffany Knap of Brookville, Brittanei Neubert of Ridgway, Violet Richards of Curwensville, Miranda Tapper of Reynoldsville, Diane Thomas of Clearfield, Amber Vrobel of Punxsutawney, Courtney Walker of Penfield and Christina Wingard of Falls Creek.
Pharmacy Technician graduates include Juhaina Al-Tikrity of Karthaus, Tracy Bundy of Falls Creek, Stephanie Kingsbury of Falls Creek, Ashley McAninch of Brookville, Briana Salada of DuBois, Paul Schmidt of Punxsutawney, Karen Wachob of Brockport, Julie Whaling of Falls Creek and Breannna Wiggin of Brockway.