• 54°

LHS biomedical program graduates 17

With kind words and emotional farewells, 17 Lakeland High School seniors graduated from the school’s Project Lead the Way Biomedical Sciences Program on Wednesday evening.

The program’s White Coat Ceremony was held in the school auditorium, where friends, family, faculty and administrators applauded the students for all of their hard work.

This program provides an academically challenging environment in which students learn to think critically, communicate effectively, value diversity and engage in the pursuit of lifelong learning.

LHS Principal Douglas Wagoner and Program Instructor Sarah McDonald helped each student don their white coats during the ceremony, and each student received a long hug from McDonald.

“The white coat is a symbol of accomplishment and continued dedication to work in the health care and science related fields,” McDonald said. “These students have earned this coat by completing all the requirements of the biomedical sciences program.

“The students in this class have more or less all expressed their love for science. This white coat is a token of your hard work, your perseverance and your determination.”

McDonald motivated her students since day one in August 2015. She drove them to success and pushed them out of their comfort zones to become future leaders in their respective fields.

“In August of 2015, all these students walked into a hot lab — the AC was out — full of nervousness, and eagerly anticipated what was to come,” McDonald said.  “The biomed lab has now become a second home to them. They quickly became family, and earned a spot in my heart as my babies.

“I call you my babies because I have high expectations of you,” she continued as she teared up. “I treat you as I treat my own children. I want all of you to be successful — as successful as possible.”

The program’s second graduating class presented something special to McDonald during the ceremony: a book with pictures of all of them in it, along with handwritten letters of gratitude to her.

“I would just like to say thank you, Ms. McDonald, for everything that you’ve done for all of the past four years,” said LHS senior and program graduate Sarah Wallace-Stansick. “She goes above and beyond for all of her students. She treats us like we’re her own children, like she said.”

Sarah said that McDonald taught all of them that “hard work is probably one of the biggest assets any individual can have.”

“I can only hope that every high school student out there can have a teacher just like Ms. McDonald,” she said.

The Biomedical Sciences Class of 2019 graduates are as follows:

Jakhyla Ashburn, who plans to enlist in the U.S. Army as a behavior specialist. She aspires to be a psychologist.

Syvonia Boone, who plans to attend Virginia Commonwealth University, where she will major in pre-nursing. She aspires to be a pediatric nurse practitioner.

Travon Brown, who plans to attend Virginia Commonwealth University, where he will major in biology. He aspires to be a physical therapist.

Kim Curliss, who plans to attend Tidewater Community College, where she will major in veterinary technician studies. She aspires to be a veterinarian.

Annemarie Dickens, who plans to attend Virginia State University, where she will major in biology/genetics. She aspires to be a genetic counselor.

Arianna Fisher, who plans to attend George Mason University, where she will major in forensic science. She aspires to be a forensic scientist.

Desirae Gilmore, who plans to attend Virginia Tech University, where she will major in animal and poultry science. She aspires to be a veterinarian.

Corey Hasson, who plans to attend Old Dominion University, where he will major in exercise science. He aspires to be a pilot/physical therapist.

Trinity McRae, who was also recognized as the Honor Student of the Biomedical Sciences Class of 2019. She plans to attend Emory University and major in biochemistry. She aspires to be a pediatric oncologist.

Jonathan Peebles, who plans to attend Norfolk State University, where he will major in English/education. He aspires to be a teacher.

William Richardson, who plans to attend University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where he will major in exercise science. He aspires to be a physical therapist.

Kenya Rivers, who plans to attend Old Dominion University, where she will major in biology. She aspires to be a pediatrician.

Benjamin Salerno, who plans to attend Emory and Henry College, where he will major in exercise science/biology. He aspires to be a physical therapist.

Starlina Shepard, who plans to attend Virginia Tech University, where she will major in clinical neuroscience. She aspires to be a neuroscientist.

Sarah Wallace-Stansick, who plans to attend Virginia Commonwealth University, where she will major in clinical and laboratory sciences. She aspires to be an orthopedic trauma surgeon for the U.S. Navy.

Reese Wilkinson, who plans to attend George Mason University, where he will major in pre-nursing. He aspires to be a nurse/nurse practitioner.

Ambria Williams, who plans to attend Virginia Commonwealth University, where she will major in pre-pharmacy/biology. She aspires to be a pharmacist.