Health Science Expo expands career horizon

Raelyn Hamilton, right, family consumer sciences teacher and FCCLA adviser at Central High School in Woodstock, talks with senior John Albright, front left, at an event on Wednesday to promote a tobacco-free campus. Josette Keelor/Daily

WOODSTOCK — Shenandoah County ninth graders have learned that a career in health science doesn’t have to mean becoming a doctor, a nurse or a paramedic.

At the first ever Shenandoah County Public Schools Health Science Expo, held at Central High School, representatives from numerous career paths showed students that knowledge of health and science can help them no matter which career they end up choosing.

The goal, said Career and Technical Education Coordinator Katie Rice, was to expose students to the number of career options available to them in the world of health care.

The district partnered with Valley Health, which sent health care professionals from around the region, Rice said.

“We’re really working on building up a partnership,” she said. “I wanted [the expo] to be activity-based.”

Ashley Funkhouser, 14, left, practices the Heimlich maneuver on Ciara Philpott, 15, during Thursday's Health Science Expo for Shenandoah County ninth graders at Central High School in Woodstock. Josette Keelor/Daily

Students navigated a wheelchair without the aid of peripheral vision, tested their balance with tools used by physical therapists and learned what it’s like trying to walk a straight line when their vision is impaired by alcohol.

After ninth grade Strasburg High School student Bailey Whetzel, 14, tried walking the line, 16-year-old Triplett Tech health care student Cheyenne Plaugher said the freshman would have been arrested for driving under the influence.

Fellow Strasburg ninth grader Alexis Barb objected, “Well, I can’t see anything,” and Bailey agreed the goggles made her dizzy, too.

“I just felt like I was falling the whole time,” she said.

Nearby students inserted a needle into a vein in a practice arm made of dry natural rubber that includes fingers with fingerprints. Others listened to lung sounds made by a Simulation Annie mannequin.

Tonya Frazier, left, manager of nutrition services for Shenandoah Memorial Hospital, talks with Central High School ninth grader Olivia Lapuz, 14, about the fat content in different fast food meals. Josette Keelor

On loan from Warren Memorial Hospital in Front Royal, the mannequin could be programmed to reflect any number of symptoms like a cough, sounds of vomiting or the wailing of a patient in extreme pain, said Melissa Stalbird, registered nurse and director of education for Valley Health’s southern region covering Warren, Shenandoah and Page counties.

“We can make up so many scenarios, it’s awesome,” she said.

A favorite of 14-year-olds Leighanne Bodge and Miriam Happ of Central High School, the Simulation Annie was fun but probably not enough to sway either of them from the careers they plan to pursue.

Leighanne was leaning toward pediatrics, and Miriam said if she’s going to spend the necessary money on a career in medicine, she’ll “need to make sure [she] absolutely want[s] to do this.”

Central student Olivia Lapuz, 14, didn’t expect to find an interest in health care, since she planned on studying meteorology. But she told Tonya Frazier, manager of nutritional services at Shenandoah Memorial, that she might reconsider.

Jonathan Hathaway, a nurse in the operating room at Shenandoah Memorial Hospital, talks with Central High School ninth graders. Josette Keelor

Said Miriam, “You always remember the cool stuff.”

But the expo wasn’t all about work.

An anti-choking demonstration showed students the proper way of administering the Heimlich maneuver on a choking victim.

A nearby station offered opportunities to practice cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a mannequin, and LeAnn Albert, an education assistant at Warren Memorial Hospital, spoke on the importance of babysitter safety.

She said Safe Sitter classes through Warren Memorial teach 11- to 14-year-olds life-saving skills to be safe at home alone or while caring for younger children.

Registered nurse Jenna Baldwin, right, helps ninth grade Central High School student Jacob French insert an IV into a training arm made of dry natural rubber during Thursday's Health Science Expo at the school in Woodstock. Josette Keelor

In the two-day class, students as old as 17 will learn how to safely market themselves to families looking for sitters and safety signals to use on the phone to their parents or another adult in the case of an emergency.

The next class will be in May or June, Albert said, and include a “Safe Sitter” credential and lessons on performing CPR on a child or infant.

“We try to reach everybody in the community,” she said. “We accept anyone.”

For information on the Safe Sitter classes, call 540-636-0318 or 540-636-0260, or email lalbert@valleyhealthlink.com.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com