For her senior service project, Emma Henke ’20 spent the summer volunteering at Mercy Hospital. The experience confirmed what she had been thinking since sixth grade: she wants to be a nurse.
“I really wanted to get experience in a hospital before deciding that’s what I wanted to do,” she said. “Being able to get that hands-on experience helped solidify my view that that I’m passionate about nursing.”
A recent survey indicated that one-third of St. Dominic students, like Emma, are interested in careers in the medical field. While Emma goes on to pursue nursing at Maryville University next fall, the next class of Crusaders will be able to take their career exploration one step further by studying biomedical sciences while still at St. Dominic.
This initiative is the latest step in St. Dominic High School’s partnership with Project Lead the Way, a nonprofit organization providing STEM curriculum and professional development for schools nationwide.
St. Dominic has offered Project Lead the Way (PLTW) computer science and engineering courses since 2014, most recently adding a course in cybersecurity this semester. Next fall, St. Dominic will launch its biomedical science curriculum, embarking on the third strand in PLTW’s trio of high school programs.
“The program allows students to work as they would in a college lab,” said principal Stacy Stewart ’89. “All of those experiments they’ll be doing in college, they’ll get to preview in this high school program.”
The introductory course, Principles of Biomedical Science, is a hands-on simulation in which students analyze the factors that led to the death of a fictional person. The course integrates human physiology, biology, medicine, research techniques and problem-solving skills. Students will study autopsy reports, medical history and more as they investigate the case.
Future courses include Human Body Systems, Medical Interventions and Biomedical Innovation. St. Dominic will implement these courses in sequence, beginning with Principles of Biomedical Science and adding a course each year until the full series is complete.
“This is an opportunity to give the kids in our school almost every academic opportunity they’d like to pursue,” said SDHS president Jim Welby.
Guests attending the 32nd annual Evening of the Crusader Gala on November 2 raised nearly $70,000 for this initiative during the Fund-A-Need portion of the evening. This investment ensures that the curriculum will be introduced as soon as possible.
“It was inspiring to see the willingness and enthusiastic support that the community put behind the Project Lead the Way initiative,” said parent Chrissy (Sneed) Mollet ’88, one of 117 donors who backed the project at the 2019 gala. “Supporting such a worthwhile cause is exciting for me, knowing the impact it will have on the students’ educational experience here at SDHS.”
This expansion is part of St. Dominic’s ongoing STEM initiative, including the zSpace virtual and augmented reality lab funded at last year’s gala.
“The expansion of Project Lead the Way classes – biomedical sciences, especially – would be a great addition to the science curriculum at St. Dominic,” science department chair Angela Juergensmeyer ’96 said.