Local high school focuses on health, science

December 24, 2008 3:02:34 PM PST
There are plenty of teenagers who dream about becoming a doctor.

But, at one Bay Area high school students are already receiving training that could help send them to medical school or even just land a job at a local hospital.

At some high schools clothes are a fashion statement. At Dozier-Libbey they are more of a career statement.

The surgical scrubs are mandatory.

"The fact they're wearing scrubs kind of makes them feel like yes, this is possible for me to attain, so I can kind of visualize myself doing this work," said Principal Nancie Castro.

The campus in Antioch is believed to be the first fully-dedicated medical high school in the Bay Area. In one class freshman are tracking everything from the effect of junk food on rats, to the biology of their own digestive systems.

And, they are doing it all as if someone's life could someday depend on it.

"We have our focus on health and medicine. So I try to tie it in to health and medicine at every chance we get," said biology teacher Robert Young.

Young says the accelerated curriculum is heavy on math and science, but is designed both for students bound for college and perhaps medical school, as well as other who might want a more direct career path.

"I think at least half will end up in the medical field, probably closer to 60, 75 percent. They're here and it's interesting, and that's where the jobs are," said Young.

With a brand new Kaiser Medical Center just a few hundred yards from campus, learning about those jobs and how to get them is clearly part of the draw. By junior year students will be able to shadow professionals at facilities across the East Bay.

"It could be a dentist, dental hygienist, someone in the pediatric ward, a pediatric nurse," said Castro.

Students David Saldana and Maureen Gil say some of their friends were surprised when they made the kind of choice most students save for college. But like the cells they are studying, they say their specific interests are still evolving.

"I came here thinking I want to be a doctor, but I don't know what I want to specialize in. Then, we learned about X-ray technicians and all this and all that, clinical lab sciences, everything...Now I'm starting to reconsider my occupation," said Saldana.

"No, don't think I will change because I'm really focused in becoming a doctor, and determined," said Gil.

While the school's ultimate success will be judged over the next decade, there is little argument about its popularity.

While 215 students were accepted to the inaugural class, another 200 are still on the waiting list.

Dozier-Libbey accepts applicants from around the Bay Area but students from the Antioch Unified School District are given first priority.


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