Exercising knowledge: An inside look at the HHS health science program

Published 5:08 pm Monday, January 28, 2019

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA – One look inside the clinic used for the health science program at Helena High School will show that the equipment, classroom and space could easily be mistaken for something you would see on a college campus.

Since 2014, the year Helena High School opened its doors, students have had the ability to participate in the health science program, where they continue to develop hands-on skills, prepare for a future in exercise science or other health related field, get job shadowing opportunities and more.

Before the school day, or during certain class periods, athletes can be seen trickling in and out of the health science clinic for therapy, recovery and more as it serves to keep athletes at HHS performing at their best.

“With the program, we do have a fully functional clinic for hands-on activities,” HHS Career Tech Health Science teacher Michael Shields said. “We have a fully functional classroom with computer labs and technology and the clinic includes electrical modalities which a regular physical therapy clinic would have. We also have a satellite athletic training room in the field house.”

When not in the classroom, these health science students can be seen on the sidelines of Helena football games, basketball games and other athletic events taking the knowledge they learn in the classroom and applying it in the field.

The Helena High School Career Tech Health Science teachers include Shields, Gina Gonzales and Carol Hogan where they have seen the program grow from 140 students in the first year to now more than 200 students.

Shields discussed how students can get involved with the program and the paths they can take moving forward.

“We’re closely tied in with Andrews Sports Medicine and ATI Physical Therapy is our big partnership with our program,” Shields said. “We have foundations of health science which is our entry level class that we like to get our freshmen to try to come in and take and then once they take that they can go one of two pathways; one is sports med 1 and 2 and it’s heavy sports medicine based, and then the other route is more exercise performance so it’s kinesiology biomechanics and then exercise prescription. Our students that are in the program have the opportunity to work with us after school to get more hands-on experience and they’re able to work alongside our doctors and physical therapists that come to our games.”

Once students have worked their way through the program, they have options to participate in job shadowing and more.

“Our advanced students, once they’re seniors, are getting job shadowing opportunities,” Shields said. “We’ve had kids in the program at first say ‘why are we learning this? This is stupid’ and then this past year we’ve had three or four seniors contact us saying ‘oh my gosh my anatomy class or my exercise science class I already know this stuff or I was the only person in class who could answer this question’ or whatever they’re taking in college. So now they’re starting to see the big picture of it so we just need them to come back and say that in front of the other kids.”

For the great work the Helena High School health science program has accomplished, the school was recently awarded the Safe Sports School Award from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association. The honor is valid from January 2019 through January 2022.

Other ways students may get involved is by joining the student organization club HOSA, meaning future health professionals. In addition, health science students also have the option to become CPR certified.

In the end, the main goal of the program is to help guide students so they have an idea of what they want to do once they get to college.

“The design of the program is to find out whether or not these students like medicine so they don’t go waste mom and dad’s money and their time in college,” Shields said. “So, can I deal with blood now, do I like patient care? A lot of what kids are finding out now is no I can’t work with old people, or no I can’t work with this population or this type of stuff so they’re getting to figure that out now so whenever they get to college they have some direction of what they actually want to do.”

For more information on the health science program, visit http://shelbyed.k12.al.us/schools/hhs/students.html.