Twenty-six Merrillville High School students are primed to enter the healthcare field upon graduation after completing the requirements to become certified nursing assistants in the school’s CNA program.
The students, 25 seniors and one junior, marked the accomplishment by participating in a pinning ceremony in front of family members, teachers, administrators and school board members.
Students who completed the requirements included: Allen Akins, Arturo Baranda, Rebekka Beilfuss, Favour Bikoro, Makayla Boleware, Janyle Cooper (junior), Jenae Crowder, Jade Cuadrado, Nakari Dade, Janelle Dockins, Courtney Evans, Trevion James, Samya Miller, Isabella Montemayor, Myles Moore, Danai Nixon, Synia Norman, Na’Riyah Richardson, Michelle Roussell, Ellora Scott, Jordyn Thomas, Shaniyah Watts, Ashley Washington, Kalisha Williams, Nikiyah Wolf, and McKenna Vallow.
Program educators Brandi Lawrence-Knocke and Angelique Todd presented each student with a certificate and pin.
These students will begin testing to earn the ability to take care of patients in hospitals, long-term residential facilities, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, adult daycares and more.
This is the first group of students to complete the program since the school completely took over and began running its own CNA program, a milestone for the school’s Career and Technical Education Program.
"I was so thrilled to see enrollment go up by nearly four times the previous year,” said Bob Phelps, director of CTE. “Moving the program to our campus allowed our students to have an immersive CNA experience right down the hall from their other classes."
The MHS CNA program has its own classroom, lab, and two registered nurses who serve as educators to accommodate the growing enrollment.
"The students practiced their skills with their classmates in the lab,” Phelps said. “Once they were ready, they spent the last three months caring for real residents at long-term care facilities in our community."
The move reduced fees for students planning to become certified nursing assistants, as they will no longer have to pay the additional costs for instruction at a different school, and reduces the challenges of transporting students offsite during the school day.
Prior to this school year, MHS had partnered with organizations that could provide the qualified instructors and curriculum.