Spectrum Health Rx 450,000 to Grand Rapids Public Schools' health, science program

January 14, 2009
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Spectrum Health is committing $450,000 over three years toward a dramatic expansion of Central High School’s Health, Science and Technology High School into one of the district’s “center of innovation.”

The idea is to eventually create a “pipeline” of science and technology students, from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, that will be a regional resource, said Grand Rapids Public Schools spokesman John Helmholdt.

Now a “school within a school” program with just a fraction of Central’s students, the new high school will start in the fall with ninth and 10th grades and eventually will include 450 to 500 student, Helmholdt said.

In addition to the financial commitment, Spectrum Health is dedicating one employee to the new program.

“We are working directly with key stakeholders, health industry leaders and higher education institutions in West Michigan, to develop a customized curriculum that will infuse the core subject areas like math and science with the elements of the health care industries,” Helmholdt said. “Students will be learning these in real life applications.”

He said the program will leverage Central High School’s proximity to the Medical Mile. In addition to Spectrum Health, Grand Valley State University, Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and Grand Rapids Community College will be involved.

Still under discussion is whether graduates of the program might enjoy special treatment at admission to local college, he added.

“This is the first in a series of major announcements in our plans to create a pre-k through 12th grade medical school pipeline,” Helmholdt added. He also said that Superintendent Bernard Taylor plans to unveil a five-year strategic plan for GRPS at his Feb. 21 state-of-the-district speech.

The Health, Science and Technology High School is one of four that will be expanded into “Centers of Innovation,” a GRPS plan to create focused high schools that mimic charter schools but exist within the public school system and use Grand Rapids Education Association teachers.

University Prep Academy was the first to open under Centers of Innovation, currently serving sixth- and seventh-graders.

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