Future Scientists!

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile  Forty-Walnut High seniors were presented with white coats and honor medallions at the completion of the IBCC-PLTW program.

Photo courtesy: Kelli Gile
Forty-Walnut High seniors were presented with white coats and honor medallions at the completion of the IBCC-PLTW program.

First WHS graduating class receives white coats during ceremony

Walnut—Forty-eight Walnut High School (WHS) seniors are charting a course to careers in the medical field.

The teens were presented with white lab coats and honor medallions during a ceremony marking the completion of the International Baccalaureate Career-Related/Project Lead the Way (IBCC-PLTW) Biomedical Sciences Program on April 26.

“We’re very proud of their accomplishments!” said Instructional Dean Barbie Cole. “These amazing students displayed knowledge, ability, and aptitude in the area of biomedical science.”

Walnut High is the only school in the state to offer both IBCC with the PLTW Biomedical Sciences program as its career-related component.

Students signed up for the new program three years ago as sophomores interested in becoming pharmacists, family doctors, and neuroscientists and quickly became immersed in building DNA double-helix models.

Teachers facilitated the inquiry-based PLTW classes while students tackled real world “CSI” style investigative and collaborative work.

In addition, they explored different medical intervention strategies of the past, present, and future including the invention of prosthetic limbs and personalized medicine for patients.

“The engaging curriculum, student enthusiasm, and a special sense of community have allowed this program to be successful,” said teacher Chiara Morgan.

To earn personalized lab coats, students were required to complete four biomedical science courses and two IB Diploma courses, a special Approaches to Learning course, numerous service projects, and a written reflective project.

“This is definitely a very exciting day!” said senior Kaitlyn Fujii, who credits the PLTW program’s labs and practical applications for solidifying her interest in psychology.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but I liked the classes and coursework. It helped me find a direction.”

Students researched numerous careers, logging education requirements and job duties in journals during the course of the program.

“It gave me a taste of every type of career in the medical field,” said classmate Tiffany Casarez. “Now I’m going to study biology and hope to become a pediatrician.”

She believes the pre-med class benefitted from more hands-on learning than other graduating seniors. “We’ve already experienced half the labs from the first two years in college.”

“I felt like this was an amazing program for someone like me who wanted to go into the medical field,” said Emilio Triguero, age 17.

“The hands-on training, labs, and volunteer experience really made it possible for me to utilize my dream of becoming a doctor.”

While volunteering in 2nd floor surgery at Inter-Community Hospital in Covina, Triguero gained “front row” experiences working alongside doctors and nurses.

“I thought I’d just be cleaning trash cans (which I did), but they also taught me how to do vitals and about hierarchy in the workplace.”

He’ll be studying at UC Riverside in the fall. “When I applied for colleges, they asked if I had contacts – and I did!”

Walnut High became one of only 32 IBCC schools in the country and four in the state after completing an extensive application and authorization process in 2013.

“Our students have done some pretty remarkable things in these classes,” Cole added.