Year of new challenges

Travis Science Academy offers students new class choices

by Chris Derrett
Telegram Staff Writer

Travis Science Academy students cannot yet go to college, but that will not stop colleges from going to them. The students at principal Eddy McNamara’s school should have plenty to look forward to in 2010 – even years before potentially earning an associate degree upon graduating high school.

Known as Travis Middle School until last year, Travis Science Academy’s health science program launches its second year of operation with a new health science class for seventh graders. The 2011-12 year will finalize the full program as its inaugural graduating class leaves the academy prepared for professional-level courses.

If academy students take the seventh grade Principles of Health Science class and Health Science the subsequent year, they enter ninth grade with two high school credits. Following the health science route at Temple High School through dual credit courses yields the associate degree in health science.

“Our goal is to show kids that they can get careers without four more years of college,” McNamara said. “Our focus is to show kids what they can do in Temple.”

Temple houses several health and science facilities, including Scott & White Memorial Hospital, the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Center and Blackland Research and Extension Center. Employees of all three organizations shared time with Travis Science Academy sixth-graders last year. Although speakers and dates are not finalized, both sixth- and seventh-graders can expect more of the same in 2010-11.

All incoming sixth-graders also will receive a CPR dummy kit to borrow at home and earn CPR certification, something Travis Science Academy ensures for each student.

Students received either instruction or hands-on experience nearly every day last year in their health and science class. Career fields represented included, but were not limited to, pharmacology, paramedicine, radiology and X-ray technology.

Several non-medical fields taught students as well. For example, Dr. June Wolfe from Blackland Research and Extension Center reminded students of career possibilities available because of Temple’s natural environment.

“Showing kids that science can be fun and interesting is really important,” said Zoe Roscoe, Blackland Research program manager. “Certainly with technology and our fast paced world we will need more and more folks working in science field, more that are multitalented.”

At the end of Blackland Research and Extension Center’s week at Travis Science Academy, students took part in a scavenger hunt at a local creek.

Regardless of the field, McNamara ensures students get the most out of each perspective offered throughout the semesters. It is part of the school’s plan, especially given the lack of opportunity with which some of the students’ families must live.

Many families, McNamara explained, do not have the money to afford a four-year university. But through the right decisions and available education, “You can still have a career and do well and support yourself and a family. We’re trying to get out of generational poverty,” McNamara said.

For students pursuing medical school, McNamara added that Travis Science Academy’s speakers and classes expose those aspiring doctors to plenty of relevant material.

More than 85 percent of seventh-graders signed up for this year’s Principles of Health Science, proving that no matter where Travis Science Academy students go in the future, most will gladly take the head start.

cderrett@tdtnews.com

–Reprinted with permission of Temple Daily Telegram

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