#1StudentNWI: Bringing school back to health at the Hammond Area Career Center

#1StudentNWI: Bringing school back to health at the Hammond Area Career Center

What's recently happened?

The Hammond Area Career Center (ACC) started back to school less than a month ago on August 17. Students from high schools all over Lake County attend ACC for different Career and Technical Education programs, or CTE programs. Students had back to school night on August 24 to really get things back into gear. 

At the back to school night students had the ability to show their parents around school and talk to their respective teachers as a family. Culinary Arts and Hospitality whipped up its secret ingredient: ACC cookies. The key lime cookies are a huge hit to ACC families. Dental students sold dental kits that night to help with program funding. They had sensitivity and whitening options with a variety of colors depending on what customers were looking for. Students were able to see what activities outside of their program they could get involved in. Clubs like robotics and the cycling club were also there to hand out information.

The different CTE classes have welcomed new teachers as well as students into their programs this school year. Second year students have been working on their job skills while they start internships or service projects within the school. Some CTE classes have started to work together to create new and exciting opportunities within the school and expand on programs already offered. 

What's coming up?

As students start to get comfortable in the back to school swing new opportunities are coming their way. The student advisory board, consisting of one -two students from each CTE program, have its first meeting to discuss new business this week. The student advisory committee puts together different community service projects that all the programs have the opportunity to participate in. This brings another level of community to the ACC.

 Students will also have the opportunity to sit through a presentation talking about SkillsUSA on September 9. This presentation is to showcase the different competitions students in CTE can participate in. In addition, students will learn about competitions that are not career specific and focus more in depth on employability skills. In this presentation students will also get fundraising information and learn how they can participate in these competitions at little to no cost to them. The goal is to get a higher participation rate in SkillsUSA as an organization and build upon the standards the ACC has set for its students. 

Staff spotlight:

The Health Careers I program is a first year program offered at the ACC. Students in their junior or senior year are eligible to take this program. This program is offered by two different teachers with both teachers offering some unique dual credit opportunities. Both classes get dual credit through Ivy Tech and receive credit in Medical Terminology and Introduction to Health Careers. Students in the program taught by Virginia Sparks get dual credit in the Essentials in Anatomy and Physiology class. Sparks has been teaching this course for three years now. Prior to teaching at ACC, she was a school nurse at an elementary school. 

“I like working with high school students a lot,” Sparks said. “I was working at a job with young students and sometimes worked in different age groups, high school students are my niche.”

Sparks takes pride in her students taking away a mass knowledge of body systems and how they all work with each other.

“They get to see the various opportunities there are in heath careers," Sparks said.

Sparks makes sure her students know that being a nurse or a doctor is not the only option in the medical field. She encourages her students to gain knowledge of different aspects of the field and find an area that suits them the most. 

Student spotlight:

Jessica Paschke is a senior at Highland High School. This is her first year in the Health Careers program but her second year at the ACC. Previously, she was in the Early Childhood Education program. Paschke is the President of the National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) at the ACC and was the Vice President of NTHS last year. Paschke is also active on the student advisory board at the ACC. Paschke works hard towards her studies and plans to go to school for dermatology.

“Since sophomore year I knew I wanted to be a dermatologist,” Paschke said. “When I first enrolled there wasn’t room in the Health Careers program so this year I finally got accepted.”

Paschke went to SkillsUSA state last year and placed for her early childhood education skills. She demonstrated an extensive understanding of education at the adolescent age. Although that was not her original career pathway, she still found a way to succeed and further her knowledge in other areas. Paschke wants to go into dermatology after discovering Dr. Pimple Popper. She found it interesting and wants to make a name for herself in the dermatology field.