Girard High School's biomedical science and Gateway to Technology courses received national certification and national recognition respectively following an evaluation by representatives of Project Lead the Way.
Biomedical teacher Stacy Adduci said Girard is the only local school to receive the national certification for its biomedical science program. The next-closest certified school is in the Akron area.
Adduci and science teacher Christine Lucarielli instruct the classes that are for students in ninth to 12th grades to learn about biomedical science through a hands-on approach involving rigorous content and real-world experience curriculum through Project Lead the Way.
''This program provides a great opportunity for students who want to go into the biomedical field. They will not have this opportunity in high school anywhere else,'' Adduci said.
She said with the national certification students will receive college credit for the classes taken in high school. This, in turn, will help them to save money.
The Gateway to Technology program, which is for seventh- and eighth-graders and instructed by Ashraf Hadi, received national recognition.
Last week, the high school received a visit from P.J. Marshall, Linda O'Connor and James Ruble of PLTW, who performed an evaluation of the two programs by observing classrooms and speaking to the teachers, students, principals, parents and guidance counselors.
Students were asked by the evaluation team what they have learned.
''It's been a very good experience for me and has helped prepare for college and real life,'' said Chelsea Landis, a senior.
Ethan Best, a junior, said the labs use the same materials as are used in hospitals.
''It's been very interesting, but it has not been an easy course to take. For me, this has been a means to getting prepared for college,'' Best said.
Adduci said the program is designed to help those entering a vast array of medically related fields, such as doctor, nurse, technician or 911 operator. The biomedical field is one of the fastest-growing fields in the country, with many job opportunities expected by 2016, she said.
The event spotlighted the school's science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program and how students have demonstrated a strong background in math and science as well as expressed an interest in post-secondary medical studies, she said.
The biomedical program consists of a four-year curriculum that includes courses in biomedical sciences, human body systems and medical interventions, in addition to courses in calculus, biology, chemistry and physics.
The junior high school students take the nine-week Gateway to Technology course to introduce them to the field of engineering. Students take part in hands-on learning opportunities in engineering design and development.
The students who wish to continue their studies in pre-engineering courses can enroll in the high school's Project Lead the Way pre-engineering courses, which was nationally certified in 2010.
High School principal William Ryser said the recognition is ''a prestigious honor and tremendous distinction to have.''
He said the ''outstanding teachers'' who lead the programs help make this unique opportunity available to the students.
Junior High principal Louise Mason said it is an honor to be recognized and for the junior high students to have the opportunity to take these courses and be exposed to engineering and technology with hands-on learning experiences at an earlier age.