CONWAY — Twenty-three Health Occupations Students of America team members from the Mount Washington Valley Career and Technical Center at Kennett High School participated in two days of competition against students across the Granite State at the 39th annual N.H. HOSA Future Health Professionals Spring Leadership Conference at Dartmouth College in Hanover, March 21-22.

“Our students had a phenomenal time,” said Virginia Schrader, director of the MWV Career and Technical Center. “The stories I’ve heard from the students, the feedback has been fantastic.”

The Eagles, a combination of juniors, sophomores and freshmen, competed against 450 fellow high school students, mostly seniors and juniors, and more than held their own, finishing in the Top 3 in a few events.

“Needless to say,” said Tom Bruno, health science technology teacher and HOSA team advisor, “Our team was young and inexperienced in the ways of what to expect. In fact, only four members of our team had attended the competition the year prior. We had three sophomores qualify in the Top 3 in their respective events.”

Jessica Hill took first place in the medical reading category.

Olivia Chin got second place in the medical trans-cultural awareness category.

Ella Chandler captured third in the nutrition category.

“These three students were evaluated on their ability to express their knowledge in a standardized computer-based cognitive assessment,” Bruno said.

Finishing in the Top 3 qualifies Hill, Chin and Chandler to participate in the National HOSA Competition June 19-22 at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Fla.

“To be honest, initially, I was a bit hesitant to take on this endeavor with 23 young adults,” Bruno said. “However, as I got to know these students I saw them as more medical professionals rather than adolescents and my apprehensions were quickly abated. Plus, I had two remarkable chaperones in Jen Haley and Pamela Stimpson.”

He added: “None of this would be possible if it weren't for the help of Karen Pearson (administrative assistant to the MWVCTC and Virginia Schrader. And, finally, a special thanks must be extended to Sophie Stimpson, Emily Putnam, Glennys Chambers and Audrey Orsino as they represented the Kennett HOSA leadership team.”

Stimpson, a chaperone, was impressed by the depth of the conference and the opportunities the students are given. “I have no doubt that it was a life-changing experience for some of our students,” she said at the Conway School Board meeting on March 25.

Bruno said last year’s Kennett HOSA team completed a fundraising initiative that funded well over 150 brand new pajamas for the children at the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth.

“On our return trip home we stopped at CHaD and delivered our gift to the Child Life Department,” he said. “To say the organization was grateful would be an understatement. I couldn't be more proud of this year's HOSA team. They were new, they were young and at times initially confused, but, they showed a tremendous ability to be self-reliant to problem solve and provide support to their fellow teammates.”

The mission of HOSA, according to its website, “is to empower HOSA-Future Health Professionals to become leaders in the global health community through education, collaboration and experience.”

According to its website, HOSA was born in 1975. Today, it has chapters in 48 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico, American Samoa, Puerto Rico and at Department of Defense Education Activity schools on military bases in Italy and Germany with more than 200,000 members in over 4,000 chapters.

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