As a Pre-K student, Jackson Gianotti knew he wasn’t like most kids his age. While most kids wanted to grow up to be marine biologist or police officer, he had his sights set on becoming a surgeon. So much so, that he even dressed as a Neurosurgeon for career day.
That dream still stays with him as an eighth grade student at the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District, and this year, he was able to propel his goals one step forward with the opening of the district’s newest campus.
Opened in 2014, Harlingen School of Health Professions provides students with a challenging curriculum and the opportunity to begin a career path towards medical professions, including doctors, nurses, and medical technicians. Gianotti has welcomed the new experience as he sees the campus and its curriculum providing him with a head start into the competitive medical school application process, he said.
“I know it’s going to give me a competitive edge,” said Gianotti. “Medical programs are really competitive and it’s important to start thinking about that now. I’m excited for all of the opportunities the campus has to offer and for the experiences in medicine I will have as a high school student.”
For its initial year, the legacy class is comprised of eighth and ninth grade students with the campus designed to add an additional grade level each year until 12th grade is reached with a maximum enrollment of 550 students. The design allows students to be able to continue their enrollment from eighth grade to the completion of their senior year.
“Our Harlingen School of Health Professions gives our students access to a facility that represents academic rigor, with an emphasis on relevance of medically related curriculum with real life scenarios,” said HCISD Superintendent Dr. Art Cavazos. “With the growing opportunities in higher education the new UT-RGV will bring, this campus further aligns our educational offerings to the growing medical industry. I’m thrilled to see the continued positive impact it will have on our students.”
Furthering their medical study, students will be able to choose one of six areas of study to focus on for the remanding duration of their high school career. These areas will include The School of Pharmacology/Biomedical Technology, The School of Dental Science, The School of Patient Care, The School of Medical Science Research, The School of Sports Medicine and The School of Surgical Procedures.
Although it may be a couple of years away, Gianotti has already locked in his selection. It was an easy choice for him as it speaks directly to his childhood dream, he said.
“I definitely see myself going into the School of Surgical Procedures,” said Gianotti. “It’s always been an interest of mine. I’ve had problems in the past with bones, because I’m an athlete. I want to be an orthopedic surgeon so I can help other people.”
Enjoying the campus just as much are the parents of the students in the legacy class. Just like their children, they’ve come to build friendships and a campus community with their fellow parents during the summer, said Megan Gianotti, mother of Jackson Gianotti.
“I’ve been so impressed with the level of community the campus already has,” said Megan. “It allows the parents to have a lot of access to what’s going on at the school and understand what our children will experience.”
The campus’ curriculum and mission aligns with the district’s strategic plan. Created through a collaboration between district officials and over 800 Harlingen community members, the plan’s main themes include developing learning environments conducive for collaboration; creating curriculum to fit the individual needs of students; opening specialized and unique schools for students at all levels of education; and to align high school programs with post-secondary endorsements and certification programs for college and career readiness. HCISD Board of Trustees adopted the plan during their regular February 2014 meeting.
Students attending the campus will also be able to access the district’s enrichment resources, which include athletic and fine arts programs. By incorporating enrichment opportunities into the school’s design it allows for students to receive a specialized education and the tools needed to develop well-balanced individuals, said Dr. Cavazos.
Equally excited as the students, campus administrators are looking forward to the rest of the 2014 – 2015 school year.
“As we begin the first year in our innovative campus, Harlingen School of Health Professions is now a reality for the students of HCISD,” said Principal Tina Garza. “This will be an engaging year for our students as we prepare them for a successful transition into colleges and universities around the country and provide them with rigorous and enriching experiences to lay the foundation for their future in medicine.”