CHHS honors medical students during second pinning ceremony

Published 6:20 pm Monday, January 29, 2024

By NOAH WORTHAM | Managing Editor

CHELSEA – Chelsea High School healthcare students donned white robes and received pins symbolizing their accomplishments as they looked toward their futures in the health care industry during the school’s second annual CPCT Pinning Ceremony on Tuesday, Jan. 23.

CHHS held its White Jacket and CPCT Pinning Ceremony on Jan. 23 at 8:30 a.m. in the Chelsea High School Auditorium with a reception held afterward in the library.

“It was such a wonderful event that brought together family, friends and community leaders to celebrate the hard work our Health Science Internship students have put in to reach this point,” Healthcare Academy Instructor Andrea Maddox said. “I love that this event continues to be student-led, giving them a platform to lean into their talents and practice valuable leadership skills. Our CHHS HOSA executive council and theater tech students, along with ceremony creator and 2024 Intern student Cassidy Reynolds and her parents, helped ensure the day ran smoothly and was a great experience for all involved.”

The first pinning ceremony occurred in 2023 and was the brainchild of Reynolds who was a junior at CHHs at the time. She wanted to create a miniature version of a white coat ceremony which would serve as a rite of passage celebrating senior health science internship students who received a national Certified Patient Care Technician credential.

“I am so proud of everything this Health Science Internship class has accomplished,” Maddox said. “A program record (of) 26 students passed the National Healthcareer Association Certified Patient Care Technician exam, far exceeding the 78 percent national exam pass rate and earning their first set of healthcare credentials. This is our program’s largest Health Science Internship cohort to date, and they set the bar high with their level of dedication, leadership, service to others and all-around character.”

Maddox spoke on the importance of the health sciences program and said Career and Technical Education is a valuable tool that helps students build a solid foundation of in-demand employability skills and credentials, while also allowing them to explore many different careers prior to entering college and the workforce.

“Our health science students have the opportunity to attend hands-on patients care clinicals and observe surgical procedures to see if healthcare is the right career pathway for them and, if so, which specific medical occupation is the best fit,” she said. “Our students get these experiences before graduating from high school, which will hopefully prevent them from wasting precious time and resources figuring these things out later.”

Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks attended this year’s program as guest speaker. Brooks showed attendees his grandmother’s college diploma that he carries with him every day and spoke of the lasting impact she had in his life. He encouraged ceremony attendees to honor and appreciate those that have positively affected them along their journey and to create lasting legacies of their own.

In addition to receiving their medical white scrub jackets and CPCT pins, the health science internship students were able to dedicate their pin to a person or group who has made a significant impact on their own educational endeavors.

Isabella Robertson dedicated her pin to her grandfather, Dr. Jon Robertson, who is a practicing neurosurgeon. Her grandfather drove from Memphis, Tennessee to be at the ceremony and see his granddaughter.

“For me, having my family at the ceremony meant everything,” Isabella said. “My family has always encouraged me to follow my passions and have supported me unconditionally. It meant the world to me that my Poppy was able to attend, I know that I made him proud and I am thankful that he got to see me be presented with my first white coat. Since I was a kid I have told him I was going to be a doctor just like him, and now I am getting closer to that goal.”

Isabella was admitted through early acceptance into the University of South Alabama’s College of Allied Health Professions, where she plans to pursue a career as a Neurosurgeon. She said her favorite part of the program was both becoming a CPCT, as well as the friends and memories she has made along the way. She looks forward to caring for patients in clinicals.

“Medicine and the human anatomy (have) always been fascinating to me,” she said. “I remember as a kid going through an old anatomy book that was in the guest bedroom at my grandparents’ house. At the time I didn’t really understand what the meaning of the book was, but I knew I wanted to learn. When I was older my grandfather gave me this book and I keep it in my room now.

“When I was in the fourth grade I remember sitting on the kitchen floor with my Poppy and he got out an old suture kit and showed me how to perform stitches on a tear in his pants. That will forever be one of my favorite memories with him. My Poppy has inspired me to follow my passions. For me I have always been passionate about helping others and medicine, becoming a surgeon combines those two passions together.

Maddox spoke positively of the future of each of the students that were honored at the ceremony.

“This is an incredibly accomplished and driven group of students, and their futures are very bright,” she said.

She also shared that they have varied interests that include a wide range of potential careers, both medical and non-medical, including nursing, veterinary science, physician assistant practice, biomedical engineering, nurse anesthesia, human resource management, international business, education, computer science, and physician practice specializing in radiology, dermatology, cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery, neurosurgery and pediatric transplant surgery.

The health sciences program at Chelsea High School came about thanks to Career and Technical Supervisor Julie Godfrey who said she has enjoyed the privilege of being a part of the program and seeing it reach such a high standard.

“I along with the help of key instructional leaders kicked off this program in 2019-20 with the basic foundation course,” Godfrey said. “Since then we finished renovations and have an amazing hands-on ‘hospital setting’ lab where students are exposed to operating room procedures and all facets of healthcare. Under Ms. Maddox’s expertise and willingness to pour into the lives of her students and program, we are in our third year of internship which includes clinical rotations.”

This year featured the largest group yet with 26 students who placed. Students are earning credentials including PCT (patient care tech) surpassing the national rate and the program has an active HOSA student organization, including the HOSA state president. The chapter also started SODA at its school which has now gone to other schools in the district.

“As a result of this program, students are planning to pursue varied healthcare professional positions that they now understand and have a passion for,” Godfrey said.

Maddox expressed her gratitude to the Shelby County Schools Board of Education, Central Office and Career and Technical Education Department for being instrumental in sustaining the program’s success.

“I am incredibly grateful to all who pour their time and resources into our program to fully equip our students,” she said. “I am also extremely appreciative to our clinical partners at Shelby Baptist Medical Center and Heart South Cardiovascular Group for giving our students the opportunity to train alongside our county’s finest healthcare providers during their clinical rotations.”

The following Chelsea High School students were honored at the second annual White Jacket and CPCT Pinning Ceremony:

  • Carter Abrams
  • Mollie Bailey
  • Vivian Barrett
  • Jaydah Bearden
  • Savannah Clayton
  • Rylee DeBord
  • Abby Guy
  • Kolbe Hess
  • Jamie Holsombeck
  • Shelby Horton
  • Brant Joffrion
  • Baylor McCluney
  • Alana McCulla
  • Daisy Mitchell
  • Elizabeth Moreland
  • Theresa Nguyen
  • Campbell Parker
  • Luis Pineda Ventura
  • Carsyn Polk
  • Cassidy Reynolds
  • Cameron Roberts
  • Isabella Robertson
  • Melah Vail
  • Isabelle Willis
  • Juliana Zatta