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April 7, 2017

 

Tanya Smith has mixed emotions about the new direction that Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School
is moving toward for the 2017-2018 school year. She admits to being both
excited and jealous.Crispus Attucks Medical

 

As the PTA president and parent of Attucks senior Makayla R.,
Smith said she’s jealous that her daughter, who will graduate in June, won’t get
the chance to engage in the school’s new medical pathways. But she’s excited
for the underclass students who will.

 

“This path that I’m seeing that (Principal Lauren) Franklin
is putting into play, I am ecstatic,” said Smith. “I am so overjoyed about the
pathways that she’s telling me about and to see the different aspects of the
medical field that the kids can go into.”

 

When school begins July 31, Attucks — one of IPS’ Choice
programs — will offer four new medical pathways:

 

 

  • Physical
    Therapy:
    Students will assume the role of a physical therapist; explore
    sports medicine and best practices in rehabilitation.
  • Health
    Informatics:
    Students will be introduced to bioinformatics and gain
    fundamental skills used to implement information systems.
  • Biomedical
    Sciences:
    Students will solve real-world medical cases using Project Lead
    the Way curriculum.
  • Nursing:
    Students will receive hands-on clinical training experience and can earn their
    Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN) certification.

 

 

All of the new pathways include dual-credit and experiential
learning opportunities. Additionally, Attucks will continue to offer IUPUI SPAN (Special Programs for Academic
Nurturing)
, which allows students to demonstrate academic prowess at the
collegiate level; earn college credit in 100-, 200- and even 300-level courses;
and participate in dual-credit opportunities.

 

Attucks will also become a true high school for the
2017-2018 school year, focusing only on students in Grades 9-12. (Students in
Grades 7-8 who are interested in the medical field and would have traditionally
attended Attucks will attend the new Henry
W. Longfellow Medical/STEM Middle School 28
.) For students interested in
medicine, Longfellow will serve as a feeder school to Attucks.

 

It’s a lot of change happening at Attucks at one time, but
it’s necessary change that will benefit students, said Principal Franklin.

 

“People send their kids here because they want to be doctors,
and I’m really excited for next year because I think the pathways will really
change the academic tone in the building,” she said. “It’s definitely still a
work in progress, but I’m excited because there is a vision and a set mission
and direction in which we’re headed. And I think our families can’t do anything
but benefit from it.”

 

Franklin and Ben Carter, director of Career & Technical Education
at IPS and head of the Career Technology Center (CTC) at Arsenal Tech High
School, have been working together to develop the new pathways at Attucks.

 

Franklin has met with members of the PTA to discuss the new
direction, and both Franklin and Carter presented the plan to current students
— who were able to ask questions about each pathway and receive guidance on
which is best for them based on their area of interest.

 

Both groups applauded the school’s new direction and
options. Through a Google survey presented to students, Franklin said nursing
and biomedical sciences received the most interest — although each pathway was
chosen as an area of interest. A parent meeting is also in the works.

 

“I did a presentation for the PTA and they were super
excited,” said Franklin. “At least the PTA was applauding the vision and they
can appreciate the direction in which we’re headed. Nobody is arguing the fact
that this has not truly been a medical magnet. And they are appreciative that
we’re trying to broaden and expand the medical magnet piece.”

 

The lack of a real academic medical focus in a school that
is supposed to be medically focused has been a problem for some parents,
including Smith, whose daughter began attending Attucks in seventh grade.

 

“What appealed to my daughter about Attucks was the medical
aspect. Makayla has always wanted to be a doctor since she was 3 or 4 years
old,” said Smith. “But things started to change during Makayla’s junior year. I
no longer saw students coming in for the medical aspect. It started to feel
like a boundary school to me and the medical aspect I no longer saw. It just
became like a normal school.”

 

Smith said she decided to keep her daughter at Attucks
because she didn’t think it would be wise to transfer right before her senior
year. “For the most part, I am glad that I decided to leave her at Attucks
because I have seen some changes with the new administration,” she said. “Attucks
is definitely a school to look out for in the future.”

 

While Attucks will begin the new school year with four new medical
pathways, the goal is to add three to four each year — ultimately ending up
with a total of 10-12.

 

Creating the new direction is a lot of work, but Franklin
said it’s also rewarding. And while there’s still lots of work to do, she knows
that the school is on the right track academically.

 

“I’m excited to tell people that I am the principal of
Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School and mean it. I’m excited about
offering a much more robust curriculum; it’s something we’ve promised our
community. And I’m excited about really offering a program that kids can be
excited about.”