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Demopolis mayor: School of Healthcare Sciences a ‘game-changer’

A new magnet high school may be on the horizon for Alabama.

And Demopolis Mayor Woody Collins is “as giddy as a schoolgirl.”

In her State of the State address Tuesday, Gov. Kay Ivey proposed establishing a fourth magnet high school for the state – the School of Healthcare Sciences. To be established in Demopolis, the school would join the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, the School of Math and Science in Mobile and the School of Cyber Technology and Engineering in Huntsville.

“I am proposing we establish the Alabama School of Healthcare Sciences to address the growing healthcare worker shortage we are predicted to experience in the coming years,” she said. “This new healthcare high school, to be located in Demopolis, will offer an innovative curriculum for 9th- through 12th-graders, exposing them to a diversity of STEM and healthcare opportunities, as well as hands-on clinical training experiences.”

Collins said the facility would be a game-changer for the region.

“This is groundbreaking, a game-changer,” he said. “We’ve obviously so excited for west central Alabama.

“This isn’t just a project for Demopolis or west central Alabama … this is a state project.”

He said the timing is right, also.

“People are moving from the big cities, now,” Collins said. “It’s more and more putting a strain on health care.

“A lot of health care needs to go to the rural areas.”

In her address, Ivey stressed innovation from the magnet schools as a key part of education.

“In order for Alabama to be innovative tomorrow, we must be innovative in how we teach our students to learn today,” she said. “It’s schools like these that immerse them into subject areas like computer science or writing or even ballet.”

Collins said Ivey’s foresight is to be commended.

“I give so much credit to the governor’s vision,” he said. “I am in awe of her vision.”

The school would offer high school students STEM and healthcare courses, as well as hands-on clinical training, Ivey said.

“Y’all, when these students receive their diplomas, they will be ready to fill a broad spectrum of healthcare jobs or pursue a higher education,” she said. “I am a firm believer in getting our students in real-life experiences. In this modern economy, I also highly value STEM education.”

Collins said the school would be adjacent to Whitfield Regional Hospital, which is undergoing a $20 million renovation. The hospital is also a part of the UAB Health System.

“We’ve got a piece of property near there,” he said. “It’s about 400 to 500 yards from the hospital.

“The kids can see the hospital from the school and they can take a golf cart to the hospital.”

In the meantime, Collins said, he needs to “calm down because the Legislature has not voted, yet.”

But he, nonetheless, is optimistic.

“This is a situation where the stars aligned.”

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