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Education news and issues in the Ozarks.

IMAGES: SPS, Mercy Cut Ribbon for Health Sciences Program

Springfield Public Schools formally dedicated its Health Sciences Academy at Mercy Hospital Wednesday night. The new initiative offers a platform for eighth grade students to dive into the healthcare field.

Ashley Andrews is among 50 students, 25 boys and 25 girls, selected for the program, which is run out of a 6,500 square foot space at Mercy Springfield’s main campus. Andrews says the class is currently learning about different medical careers.

“We have groups, and each group gets to interview someone from the hospital and ask them questions about their job and stuff like that,” Andrews said.

Credit Scott Harvey / KSMU
The Health Sciences Academy sits on the second floor of Mercy's main facility along E. Cherokee.

Roughly 150 students entered the random lottery for a chance to join the program, similar to how SPS chooses participants for its popular Wonders of the Ozarks Learning Facility, or WOLF program.

Mercy’s chief operating officer, Jay Guffey, called the students of the Health Sciences Academy pioneers who are setting the stage for a new adventure.

“They’re introducing to our community a new possibility. And each one of them is taking that message and carrying it forward as they go on in their careers as students in Springfield Public Schools and into their college careers and into their careers, they’re carrying forward something that’s never existed before and they’re helping us to set a new example,” Guffey said.

The program, which is just over a month old, has already had an impact on students like Ashley Andrews. At the age of 13, she has aspirations to study neurology.  

“I don’t think I’d wanna be in the medical field or anything unless I had done this.”

The Health Sciences Academy is one of three new choice programs this school year at Springfield Public Schools. The others are the Academy of Exploration at the Discovery Center for fifth graders, and the Quest program at Glendale High School for freshmen and sophomores.