Penta honors outstanding alumni

This year’s class of Penta Career Center outstanding alumni couldn’t help but notice the new facilities
their old school now occupies.
Cara Ricci-Challen, a 1996 graduate from Oak Harbor who now works for a catering business in Perrysburg,
said on receiving her award: "I wish I had these facilities. They’re top notch."
Ricci-Challen was one of seven alumni honored Wednesday by the trade and vocational school located in
Perrysburg Township.
Others were:
¥ Stephen G. Hunter, a 1967 graduate in welding from Bowling Green.
¥ Kenneth Metzger, 1982 graduate in electronics from Northwood.
¥ Becky Pegorsch, a 1977 graduate in horticulture from Maumee.
¥ Ronald Porter, 1976 graduate in automotive technology from Lake.
¥ William Slane, a 1994 graduate in the job training program from Woodmore.
¥ Mark Travis, a 1982 graduate in construction from Genoa.
Ricci-Challen praised the work of teacher Denise Schaefer for her enthusiasm. "I don’t think she
ever stops helping students," she said. And through the American Culinary Federation, students met
more mentors in the business.
After leaving Penta, Ricci-Challen attended Johnson and Wales, one of the most prestigious culinary
programs in the country. At the Rhode Island school, she found the skills she learned at Penta served
her well. "I was so much more capable" than other students.
Porter, who works for Dunn Chevrolet-Buick in Oregon, praised "the basic training I got here at
Penta County."
"I use some of that basic stuff every day," he said. "It stays with you."
He said he knew he wanted to study automotive technology at the vocational school. "Growing up on a
small farm, I learned at an early age how to repair an engine."
Still some people discouraged him. They told him "it’s just a place for dropouts," Porter said.
Instead he found the training he needed to succeed first in the Marines and later in auto repair,
working for the past 20 years in auto dealerships.
Hunter said he was also discouraged from going to Penta. A student couldn’t go to college from there.
But Hunter not only went on to college, earning a degree in industrial technology from Bowling Green
State University and has taught at St. Clair County Community College.
Now retired as vice president for support services from Wood County Hospital, he said.
"Penta
taught me a trade that allowed me to work my way through college."
Metzger said the skills he learned at Penta helped him "survive in a tough job market."
At Penta he was able to complete his senior project on a microcomputer as a junior, and then moved onto
another computer project his senior year.
"All it did was whet my appetite for industrial controls," he said.
After a long career in the field, Metzger founded his own company Universal Controls Group in 2005.
Pegorsch also runs her own business, Lee Winters Florist in Maumee. "What I learned at Penta helped
me build my business… and keep it up to date in changing times."
She learned the importance of customer service. "If you treat you customers well, they’ll keep
coming back," Pegorsch said. In her business they become like another family as she helps them mark
births, death, illnesses, weddings and other milestone events.
Slane came to Penta’s job training program and now works as a customer service clerk at Kroger in
Perrysburg.
Speaking for Slane, Woodmore Superintendent Jane Garling said he was grateful for the education provided
that helped him get a job he enjoys and is valued for.
She said he still continue to volunteer with his home school’s athletic teams.
Travis, in accepting his award, said Slane was one of the best people he knew and said he was pleased to
learn they were both receiving the outstanding alumni award.
Travis said that Penta by bringing people from all over together "helped me adapt and get out of my
comfort zone."
"Penta helped me prepare for a diverse work environment."
Though he started out wanting to be a lineman, he took a job at the Besse-Davis Nuclear plant as a
nuclear physics serviceman, "kind of like a nuclear janitor," he said.
He ended up spending 24 years at the plant where he now works as a senior nuclear specialist.