Romona's Kids: Mentoring program inspires Cleveland students' future

Mentoring organizations take students on field trips and teach valuable skills. (Source: WOIO)
Mentoring organizations take students on field trips and teach valuable skills. (Source: WOIO)

Some local students might be the ones to some day design everything from new buildings to water systems around northeast Ohio, thanks to a program in local high schools. We found this week's Romona's Kids in Cleveland.

There's a problem at the McDonald's restaurant across from Cleveland's Collinwood High School: There's a huge puddle of standing water in the parking lot.

"It's [full of] mud, oil, and litter, so we need to do something now before it floods the whole parking lot," said Collinwood junior Ania Hankins.

The students are helping find a solution, thanks to the ACE Program, which gets kids excited about careers in architecture, construction and engineering. 

One strategy the group is considering is putting a pipe underground to connect to the sewer system.

"We noticed that as we increased the elevation of the pipe system, it helped flow the water quicker through the sewer," explained senior Duvall Young.

Another strategy would be to build a rain garden.

"It would show people that the community and corporations and the people here [at Collinwood] care about the quality of our city," said Allison Lukacsy, an architect from Geis Companies who mentors the students.

Coreyaun Robinson, a Collinwood junior, joined ACE because he grew up using toys to build things. 

"Dealing with this sort of problem really made me think of what's going on in the community around us," said Robinson.

"It also helps a lot being able to interact with my friends and get everybody's ideas on different things," said junior Dazhah Gamble. 

The program also inspired senior Davonte Woods to go to college. 

"I'm going to get my degree in business and I'll start my own business," said Woods.

Mentors from the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, along with other local firms, lead field trips and even teach the students etiquette and public speaking skills.

"We were excited to show the kids about the whole urban water cycle," said Angela Jones, government affairs specialist for the NEORSD.

"To see the attendance that we typically have is rewarding," said Leighton McCoy, of Dominion East Ohio.

"The students want to learn and want to advance themselves," said professional engineer Dan Neff, president of Neff & Associates. "I'm all for engineering. I've been promoting engineering as long as I've been in the career."

"What's nice about ACE is that they also give scholarships for our students," said Collinwood teacher Naomi LeVeck.

"This program is helping all of us in different ways. Some of us want to go into engineering and construction, and this program is helping us lead the way," said Robinson.

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