Five students from the only Medical Science Academy for high school students in the Santa Clarita Valley had a chance to demonstrate their life-saving skills in front of Hart district leaders Wednesday.
Continuing a series where each school in the William S. Hart Union High School District is tasked with presenting an aspect about itself to the board, the soon-to-be first graduating class from VHS’s Medical Science Academy asked the board to consider updating the school’s technology so the school can meet its program needs, before exhibiting life-saving CPR and other techniques they’ve acquired in their time at Valencia High School’s unique program.
“The academy is a four-year program that allows a cohort of students to gain practical medical experience in a field of their choice,” the group explained at the meeting.
During their first year in the academy, students explored various health science careers that are available to them before before they begin to study the body’s systems, anatomy and disorders in their sophomore year.
When they are juniors, students must then decide on a specific pathway to follow during their last two years in the academy. Students have the option to choose sports medicine or the emergency medicine pathway, which is suited for those who expect to work as an emergency first responder or in a similar medical profession.
In the sports medicine pathway, students begin with an introduction to the field before they begin learning practical skills that are practiced on actual athletes, students explained.
“Senior year, students are expected to enter the Honors Athletic Training class, which is much more complex, in-depth and competitive,” junior Shantau Jhaveri said. “These are the students that’re leading the school in competitions,” which the school attends throughout the calendar year.
“A lot of schools have sports medicine classes for students in the Santa Clarita Valley but they don’t specifically have an academy,” Jhaveri added. “Our program is much more inclusive and medically based than others.”
Students in English class read medical books that teach them Latin roots and suffixes pertaining specifically to medicine, and students in history class learn about the history of the bubonic plague, the group said before their presentation Wednesday.
Junior Blake Schlesinger said he always wanted to be an emergency room physician, and the emergency medical pathway has taken him one step closer to achieving his goal. “It’s really immersed me in the field,” he said, “especially the college tour trips, which have helped me deduce the colleges I’m interested in. “
Valencia High School was only recently able to transform their medical program into an academy. Schlesinger, Jhaveri, Patience Thomas, Mia Lopez and Destiny Cervantes, all currently juniors, plan to be the first class at the Medical Science Academy to successfully complete four years and graduate.
“It’ll be really nice to see our first graduating class go through the entire academy,” Valencia High School Principal John Costanzo said. “The real pride comes from the growth of the program.”
Prior to the academy, the school only had a pathway into sports medicine, but four years ago, the high school began talking about forming an academy. Today, the academy has grown to be so large that freshmen, sophomores and even eighth-graders are signing up to join, officials said.
“You should join the program because they do a good job of preparing you for the future, especially if you want to go into the medical field,” academy member Patience Thomas said, “but not even just that. They do a good job of preparing you for any field because of the multiple skills that they teach you.”
“There is so much more I could share about the academy,” Jhaveri said. When he came to high school, he wasn’t articulate or good at working with other people, he added.
“The academy has really helped me come out of my shell. I’m now able to better present myself as a leader,” Jhaveri said. “I urge as many students as possible to take advantage of this opportunity that is like no other.”
Cervantes added there’s no need to be hesitant about committing to the program if you have prior responsibilities, and suggested that interested students and parents visit the website for more information.