Health focus proposed for LHS

Published 9:02 pm Friday, July 5, 2013

Nansemond River High School has Project Lead The Way and King’s Fork High School has the International Baccalaureate program. Now Suffolk Public Schools is proposing a magnet-type specialty program for Lakeland High.

Commencing with the 2014-2015 school year, High School Health and Medical Sciences Academy would prepare students for careers in an industry — health care — that the U.S. Department of Labor expects will have generated 3 million new jobs between 2006 and 2016, School Board members heard last week.

According to board Vice Chair Enoch Copeland, Lakeland parents have been calling for a specialty program that would draw students from the two other public high schools.


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“I have been hearing from students at Lakeland High,” Copeland said. “They felt like it was unfair for Lakeland to not have a program, because Nansemond River and King’s Fork High were training students from Lakeland.

“They wanted some type of program to be initiated at Lakeland so these students would be retained there, and I wholeheartedly agree with them.”

The academy would offer corresponding career and technical education programs for students to attain academic knowledge and skills for employment in health care straight out of high school, according to a presentation.

Students would have the chance to learn the fundamentals of scientific research with investigative studies and independent projects, and partnerships would be developed with private and public industry professionals and facilities for internships, job shadowing, volunteer service and mentoring.

“We have invited stakeholders from the many fields and are currently courting EVMS (Eastern Virginia Medical School) at this early stage of the game,” Douglas Dohey, the district’s director of secondary leadership, wrote in an email.

Dohey also cited “business people, Sentara Obici and Paul D. Camp (Community College), as well as central office personnel.”

“We have plans to include more than this preliminary list,” he added.

Under the proposal, entry into the program would involve early assessment in the fifth grade “to try to determine interest and aptitude,” and scheduling of Algebra I in seventh or eighth grade and earth science in eighth grade.

“In order to be able to take full advantage of the higher-level math and science courses at the high school, ideally, a student would need to at least have Algebra I in the eighth grade and ES (earth science) in the eighth grade,” Dohey stated.

The initial cohort would include 75 students. Dohey says it is too early for any rough cost estimate. It would need to be included in the budget deliberation process, district Superintendent Deran Whitney told School Board members.

The proposal would require about one and a half additional science teachers and another math teacher for “the influx of new students to the building,” Dohey wrote, adding, “There will be subjects that may require training on the part of current staffing.”

Other courses would need to be “designed, purchased or received from other cities, as we do not currently offer all the courses placed in the program of study.”

Dohey related that a committee of Lakeland teachers and administrators met to “hammer out the details” after former Lakeland principal Thomas Whitley, who left the school system at the end of June, proposed the academy as a “magnet-type program.”