NEW CASTLE —
Someday, Rachael Baker aspires to enter the medical field, possibly as a physician’s assistant.
So, the Laurel High School junior was enthused to be part of a small group that observed an aortic valve replacement at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.
Students from the gifted programs at Laurel and Lincoln high schools participated in the unique opportunity — the Open-Heart Surgery Observation program of the Gerald McGinnis Cardiovascular Institute at the hospital.
The procedure was done on a man in his 60s.
“To see how the heart was stopped and then started again, and know that person is still alive was just amazing,” Lincoln senior Alexxa Houk said.
The students were accompanied by their advisers, Toni Schooley, gifted coordinator at Laurel, and Jonica Walters, gifted coordinator at Lincoln. They observed the operation from an observation deck overlooking the surgical suite. During the surgery, a staff person from the Cardiovascular Institute explained what was happening in the operating room.
“The students were so focused as to what was going on,” Schooley said.
“Someone’s life is in the hands of these doctors,” Baker noted. “I wouldn’t be averse to working in an OR. I left with a whole new perspective. To see diagrams and pictures of the heart is one thing, but we saw a chest opened up.”
Nearly 2,000 students from school districts throughout the tri-state area have participated in the open-heart surgery observation program since its inception in 2008, and many credit it with guiding them toward careers in health care.
Houk is considering the study of biochemistry and even medical school following college.
While still uncertain about her exact career path, after watching the open heart procedure she said that she is more confident that, “I could handle the whole OR scenario.
“It was more than just the surgeon and anesthesiologist. It took an integral teamwork comprised of 10 to 15 people to do that procedure.”
It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Marlon Tanner, a Laurel junior.
“I like to observe different jobs so it may help determine what I want to do,” Tanner explained. “I have great admiration for the surgeons for what they have to go through. If anybody gets a chance, they should see it for themselves.”
For Schooley, the experience was one she could relate to. Her husband underwent triple bypass surgery, and when she returned from observing the procedure at Allegheny, she had a better understanding of what takes place during these types of operations.
“I had to tell him how much I appreciate him,” she said. “It was very emotional.”
(Have you signed up for our free text alerts yet? Get daily weather, breaking news, Friday Night football scores and school news sent right to your phone! It’s awesome ... and it’s free! CLICK HERE.)
NEW CASTLE —
New Castle Schools: Leave with pay was superintendent’s call
When a New Castle school district employee is placed on administrative leave, it typically is the superintendent’s decision. District solicitor Charles Sapienza said in an email last week that the district has no policy governing when and why an employee is placed on administrative leave or whether he or she should be paid during that leave.
Agreement allows nonresident students at Laurel
Five Laurel teachers who live outside the Laurel School District have enrolled their children in the district. They are taking advantage of a memorandum of agreement between the district and the Laurel Education Association that took effect at the beginning of the current school year.
Allegations result in principal on leave
New Castle Junior High School principal Robert Razzano is on administrative leave with pay. Meanwhile, New Castle police said they are investigating a reported incident at the junior high involving an employee.
Shenango board set to fill vacancy
The Shenango Area School Board is expected to appoint Dean Owrey on Monday to fill a vacancy on the board. Owrey, chief financial officer of the University of PittsburghMC’s information services division, was selected from among 16 people who expressed interest in the position.
Hearing set on school building’s future
A hearing Wednesday will determine the future of an abandoned school building. The Pulaski Township supervisors will meet at 7 p.m. at the municipal building to determine whether the former New Bedford school on Schoolhouse Road violates the township dangerous buildings ordinance.
School money split under scrutiny
Pennsylvania spreads $10 billion in education dollars using a ragged method that is prone to political influence, according to legislators and groups who are calling for reform.
In The Schools: New Castle staffers heading to San Diego
New Castle school district personnel are heading to California to continue improving their approach in teaching students to read. The school board Monday gave permission to George Washington Intermediate School principal Joseph Anderson, elementary principal Debra DeBlasio and district facilitators Shelly Bucci and Andrea Martin to attend the Success For All reading conference Feb. 5 to 9 in San Diego.
Arts academy to appeal after board says no to charter school
The New Castle Arts Academy Charter School plans to contest the New Castle school board’s denial of its charter. The board voted 9-0 Monday to reject the academy’s application to open an arts-infused charter school in the former Days Inn. The action came after a public hearing and public board discussion about the application.
Emergency substitute teacher course offered
Midwestern Intermediate Unit IV is offering a training program to qualify college graduates as emergency substitute teachers.
Photo Gallery, Story: Kindergartners have first day at new Lockley
Young eyes were wide with wonder. Four- and 5-year-olds bundled in winter coats, hats, scarves and mittens got off school buses Wednesday morning and walked single file into a brand new school.
- More Schools Headlines
- New Castle Schools: Leave with pay was superintendent’s call