Vital Signs Strong at Hartford Public High

Nursing Academy Among New Offerings for City Teens

Sounds of the emergency room fill the classrooms at the new Nursing Academy at Hartford Public High School. It’s supposed to be that way.

In August, classes for 386 fledgling medical professionals started under the roof of the high school.

Mike Suppicich, a paramedic by training and a teacher by trade for the past 26 years, said the program is a perfect addition to the Hartford High curriculum.

"Kids are being more engaged in the theme-based academies. They are here because they want to be here,” he said.

He said there is motivation for students to take the classes because of job opportunities these classes could ultimately present.

“It's the right place at the right time,” he said. “Connecticut has the second greatest nursing shortage on the country."

Classes deal with practical information students would need in the medical field. During a recent class, Suppicich’s 20 students learned about vital signs.

Jasmine Brown, a junior, has her sights set on a career medicine. Her mom is a certified nursing assistant at the cancer center at St. Francis Hospital and serves as an inspiration to Brown.

In addition to the nursing academy, there are three others academies at Hartford Public High School. There is a law and government academy, an engineering and green technology academy and a freshman academy.

The students take all the core high school classes. During sophomore, junior and senior years, students also take specialized courses in their chosen area of study.

Each academy has its own principal, turning a huge student population into four more manageable segments.

"It's really very difficult to know your kids, know 1,600 kids, and be able to call them by name and be able to know their parent, what their needs are and how you can best support them,” Principal Zandralyn Gordon said.

Breaking the school up into specialized academies allows students to receive more specialized attention.

“They have a direction and they're getting the support they need and there's the guidance they need to get into college," he said.

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