VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) - Many Jackson County students will get an early introduction to roles as doctors, pharmacists and forensic scientists. Vancleave High will become the first high school in Mississippi to offer a biomedical science curriculum next year. The program can help pave the way toward future medical careers.
Next year, some Vancleave High science students will walk into class and encounter what looks like a crime scene.
"There's a woman lying dead on the floor with a few blood drops, and they have to figure out was she murdered," explained Vancleave High biology teacher Lesley Magee.
That investigation will open up the first biomedical science class at Vancleave High. The school received a $45,000 grant from the Mississippi Department of Education to start the program. It was the only high school in Mississippi chosen to launch the classes.
"I'm so excited about that. I really am. I taught it in Louisiana. I loved teaching it. The students loved it, and I think it will be a great asset to Mississippi," said Magee.
More than 60 students have signed up for the inaugural class.
"I'd like to build prosthetics for amputees. I thought it was really a great idea that we're getting to be more familiarized with fields we want to go into," said Vancleave High sophomore Emily McAvoy.
Other students are still debating which path to follow.
"Engineering or medical, anything like that. It's kind of hard to choose right now," said Vancleave High junior Tyler Overstreet.
During the rigorous, four-course program, students will dissect dead animals, build prosthetic body parts and perform DNA tests and autopsies. They will also work with real medical equipment, like an EKG machine.
"I was excited, and I knew that's what I was going to sign up for, because I want to be a doctor, and I figured that would help," said Vancleave High freshmen Olivia Cason.
"They think they want to be a doctor or they think they want to be a nurse, but there are so many other careers out there in the biomedical field that they don't know about. These courses will kind of help them focus," said Magee. "It's saving their money. They don't have to wait until college to figure out maybe I don't want to do this. The techniques they use, the tools that they use are actually tools they could use in college."
Vancleave High will host an open house in August to showcase its new biomedical science program. The school plans to apply for another MDE grant next year to start a computer science engineering course.