New academy prepares BHS students for healthy competition in workforce

Bearden+senior+Avery+McKinney+practices+on+a+CPR+dummy.

Cassidy Bailey

Bearden senior Avery McKinney practices on a CPR dummy.

Danielle Fannon, Staff Writer

After a full semester of Bearden’s Health Science Academy, both teachers and students are seeing the benefits of the program while brainstorming changes to be made to further enhance the experience.

In the 20 years that Bearden has offered Health Science classes, a new program to specialize each student’s career path had not been introduced until this past fall. Students are now required to complete the basic Health Science classes before they are allowed to choose a track that they will follow for the duration of high school.

“The students have a better way of organizing which classes they want to take and in what order they want to,” senior Avery McKinney said.  “Starting with Health Science is a good way of getting the basics of your information and then going from there to build a career path.”

After completing a career path, students are given the opportunity to take a board exam to become certified in their chosen field.  They can then use their certification to start a career right after high school graduation or attend college to attain further degrees.

“It makes these students much more competitive in the workforce but also makes them more competitive in school as well,” Health Science teacher Mrs. Kelly-Ann Buckley said.  

The academy has brought changes such as a skills lab, four donated hospital beds, and opportunities to practice mock skills on patients. Students are also offered the option to wear BHS Health Science Academy scrubs on Fridays.

Although the program is already presenting students with many new opportunities, the department is seeking ways to further expand the academy.  

Department head Mrs. Glenda Inman hopes to see the nutrition aspect added to the program, which would include a community garden on campus that would provide produce to be served in the cafeteria.

“We’re trying to bring in more Health Science courses,” Mrs. Buckley said. “We would love to get into diet therapy and nutrition, and I know they would like to get a more direct track for forensics because there’s a lot of interest with our students in forensics.

“We want to broaden [the courses] so people don’t just think, ‘Oh, I’m just going to go down the hill because they teach nursing down there.’ There’s a lot more to it than that.”

The department hopes to start implementing these changes by next year, but factors such as money and a sufficient number of teachers may hinder the progress.

“I think it’s been good for students to see the pathway they should be going down,” McKinney said. “I think more students have been interested in the academy now that we have extra classes and more options and a set way of how to get to a certain career.”