Health Sciences Academy students save city from viruses

Katie Branch, health compliance specialist, chats with Emanuel Melendez about his Save Grand Rapids project. Melendez is a Health Sciences Early College Academy student.
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Katie Branch, health compliance specialist, chats with Emanuel Melendez about his Save Grand Rapids project. Melendez is a Health Sciences Early College Academy student.
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High school students enrolled in the Health Sciences Early College Academy at the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences had an opportunity to save Grand Rapids from contagions they imagined would wipe out the city.

Rosemary Cruz, a junior from Sparta, said she and her group took an imagined mutated polio virus and used the video game “Plague” to see how fast and widespread it would go.

Cruz said their virus was airborne and spread quickly through water sources. “This really symbolizes how sick people can get from a mutated virus,” she said. The polio group also developed a cure for the virus using stem cells.

Instructor Russell Wallsteadt invited faculty and staff members from CHS to visit the students’ booths and evaluate their projects.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Health Sciences Academy. Students from throughout the Kent Intermediate School District attend biomedical technology class at CHS for two hours each day. Other classes are offered through Metro Health Hospital. Graduates of the program can earn up to 14 college credits.

Wallsteadt said the college placement rate for Health Sciences Academy students is 98 percent. Grand Valley representatives from the Kirkhof College of Nursing, College of Health Professions, Financial Aid and Admissions regularly visit the class.