Spain Park students place at national HOSA competition

Nineteen students from Spain Park's HOSA organization traveled to Anaheim, Calif., for the HOSA National Leadership Conference, June 24-27. Pictured are (top row, left to right) Jason Zajac, Avirath Vaidya, Neema Ashou, Derek Williams, Chris Brock, Trung Huynh, Will Shepherd, (bottom row left to right) Amanda Gaston, Rachel Ferrell, Ayaka Fujihashi, Bailey Yamshak, Tiffany Lewis, Katherine Buchanon, Brennen Cooke, Hope Dawson and Emma Stephens. (Contributed)

Nineteen students from Spain Park’s HOSA organization traveled to Anaheim, Calif., for the HOSA National Leadership Conference, June 24-27. Pictured are (top row, left to right) Jason Zajac, Avirath Vaidya, Neema Ashou, Derek Williams, Chris Brock, Trung Huynh, Will Shepherd, (bottom row left to right) Amanda Gaston, Rachel Ferrell, Ayaka Fujihashi, Bailey Yamshak, Tiffany Lewis, Katherine Buchanon, Brennen Cooke, Hope Dawson and Emma Stephens. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

HOOVER—Nineteen Spain Park High School students took their talents to Anaheim, Calif., for the Health Occupation Students of America National Leadership Conference, June 24-27.

Derek WIlliams

The three-day conference included 42 competitive events, testing students’ knowledge in various aspects of the health science field. To qualify for the national conference, students must have placed in the top three at their respective state conference.

“It’s definitely the cream of the crop of talent from the rest of the country,” SPHS health science academy teacher and HOSA sponsor Jason Zajac said.

Spain Park’s 19 qualifying students were Avirath Vaidya, Neema Ashou, Derek Williams, Chris Brock, Trung Huynh, Will Shepherd, Amanda Gaston, Rachel Ferrell, Ayaka Fujihashi, Bailey Yamshak, Tiffany Lewis, Katherine Buchanon, Brennen Cooke, Hope Dawson, Emma Stephens, Altamish Daredia, Erryn Stewart, Rebecca Leech and Paden Seale.

Spain Park’s students represented the school well, ranking among the top 30 in the nation in biomedical debate. Senior Derek Williams took sixth nationally in physical therapy, following a first place win at the state competition in Montgomery.

“This was only our second year competing at the state and national level,” Zajac said. “They set the bar high and met those expectations.”

HOSA is an optional extracurricular activity for students in Spain Park’s health science academy. Students study material and prepare for competition on their own time outside of class, Zajac explained. Competitions include a variety of knowledge evaluations, from multiple choice tests to asking students to solve a specific scenario.

“They’re exceptional students,” Zajac said. “All I can do is facilitate, ultimately it comes down to their preparation. They have to be driven and motivated and want to be successful.”

The HOSA team will lose a number of seniors this coming year, including 12 who represented the school at the national level, however Zajac said the underclassmen are inspired and ready ton continue the team’s success.

“They got a chance to see the big stage for the first time,” Zajac said of the seven underclassmen who attended the National Leadership Conference. “I challenged them to take the reins.”

Competition is just one part of HOSA. The 135-member student group also organizes fundraisers and service events throughout the year, including two blood drives for the American Red Cross, a penny war and a walk to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.