Health and Medical Sciences Academy Grand Opening

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Monday night, Monticello High School celebrated the grand opening of its Health and Medical Sciences Academy. It's a program that gives students hands on training for health related careers.

During the open house students showcased some of the projects they've been working on for the last nine weeks. And they are confident the training they are getting now will pay off big in the future.

At Monticello High School 23 freshman are getting hands on training that some college students haven't even been exposed to yet. They had the chance to show their parents and community leaders just a few examples of what the new Health and Medical Science Academy has to offer.

Katina Dudley, the Director of Health and Medical Sciences Academy, said, "Thus far in the cardiovascular system they've done EKGs using EKG sensor probes. They've learned CPR, they've dissected hearts."

Laura Habermeyer, one of the academy's students, said, "It's more hands on and it has more of a health focus. We learn more about health and the careers. We have many guest speakers come and tell us about different jobs we have in Charlottesville."

And that is probably what attracted many of the students to apply. The program is designed to not only prepare kids academically, but make sure they are career ready as well. Governor Bob McDonnell and his cabinet are focusing on health when it comes to science technology engineering and math initiatives.

Virginia Secretary of Education Laura Fornash said, "As we looked at STEM education we've added the ‘H' piece to really take into account the growth in health sciences and the need that we're going to in those fields for young people to be better trained in health sciences."

Samantha Payne wants to become a veterinarian and says the academy has made her more excited about reaching her goals.

"Most people would think this is gross, but I thought dissecting the sheep heart, I thought that was really cool because you got to take your scalpel and cut right down through the aorta," she said.

Payne knows she has a long road ahead of her, but is thankful for the head start.

"It doesn't hurt to start out with the dirty work cause it shows that you can start wherever and work your way up and they take a lot of credit in that," she explained.

The program is open to other Albemarle County freshman attending a public school. The application for next year begins in November.