Published on October 4th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff0
New Dutch Fork High School Health Science Center
Pictured: Students in Dutch Fork High School’s health science program practice wraps and taping at the school’s new Health Science Center.
IRMO – Students, staff and community members gathered at Dutch Fork High School on Sept. 29 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opening the school’s new Health Science Center.
The nearly 30,000 sq. ft. site includes instructional space, a health science lab and training room, a presentation room and new state-of-the-art weight room. More than 250 students are currently enrolled in Dutch Fork High’s health science program, participating in practicums through local medical offices while studying sports medicine and other health fields at the school.
Dutch Fork High School Principal Dr. Greg Owings said, “We are very proud and excited that the learning in our new Health Science Center will focus on preparing students for success in health careers. The instruction taking place there will give our students the skills and confidence they need to succeed whether they decide to go directly into the workforce or pursue further education and training in the medical field.”
Construction of the new Dutch Fork High School Health Science Center was part of a bond referendum, voters passed in 2008 to provide new facilities and upgrades throughout Lexington-Richland School District Five. In addition to instructional space, the project at Dutch Fork High School also included athletic improvements and a new middle/high school connector road to improve traffic flow along with additional parking.
District Five Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hefner said the site helps ensure students are well-prepared to compete for limited top jobs.
“Three billion people tell Gallup that they either work or they want to work. The problem is, there are only 1.2 billion jobs, and that leaves a global shortfall of 1.8 billion good jobs. We certainly want to educate students for the world in which they will live,” Hefner said. “We are very grateful that we have been able to build a facility that has a very intentional purpose…and that is to prepare our students for the workforce.”
The school already has partnered with several local medical practices to provide treatment on-site and allow students to assist with minor procedures, from taping to physical therapy. Dutch Fork High School head athletic trainer and assistant athletic director Mack Harvey said the facility and opportunities for students are second to none.
“For our health science students, the new site provides a place for them to get hands-on work in a field they are interested in. For our student-athletes, it means that they don’t have to go to a doctor’s office or hospital setting to get treatment…rather the care givers come to them, allowing them to receive treatment and not lose classroom time. For our community, it’s another point of pride and investment in our students. We are grateful to the community for passing the bond referendum and making this facility happen for our students,” Harvey said.
Interns from the University of South Carolina also receive experience at the site, while teaching Dutch Fork High School students about sports medicine and physical therapy. Hospital equipment – including six hospital beds – in two of the classrooms provide “workable skills” and further training for students, said Health Occupations teacher Sean Hoppe.
“I’ve taught at several other schools, and I can tell you that this facility is unique,” he said. “Not only do we have state-of-the-art equipment and the space to train these students. The building has provided the means to create partnerships with Palmetto Health and other health care providers so that students are also getting real-world training. They have practicums, they have access to professional medical providers…and they have opportunities to learn early on whether health care is the right career for them. It’s a win-win-win situation all the way around.”
Dutch Fork High School is a District Five school of choice, meaning any student can apply to attend its STEM magnet program. School officials hope to grow the health science program, which has been offered at the school for several years. For health science students Taylor Smith and Moquesha Griffin, the opportunities prompted by the new facility have helped them solidify plans to pursue a career in the health care field.
“I want to be an Air Force medic, and the program and facility just gives us more of an advantage. We get a chance to train and work with people who are actually working in the field. We get a chance to learn CPR…all right here,” Griffin said. “The equipment and everything else is just the best of the best.”
“Before the Health Science Center, we had classrooms…and now we have a whole building just for health sciences,” Smith said. “I know I want to study medicine, and the program has just given me a lot of opportunities to see what the field will be like. I feel ready for college and eventually for a career in medicine.”