They are our dream team of health knowledge. They have met at coffee shops on weekends to go over virus symptoms, and pharmaceuticals, even dentistry protocols. The four girls also stayed after school to study and expect to pull an all-nighter to prepare for the national spotlight coming their way next week.
After capturing gold medals in the statewide SkillsUSA Health Knowledge Bowl competition in April, Seniors Erin Archambault, Hayleigh Gorrassi and Kylie Gates and Junior Brianna Jackson are headed for the national SkillsUSA contest in Louisville, KY, June 19-23.
“Others lower their eyes when the four of them walk into a room,” joked their Health Occupations Teacher and SkillsUSA Advisor Jane Moskevitz. As honors students, friends, and Certified Nursing Assistants who all work at local nursing homes, they have more than a few things going for them, and hope to come home with gold.
Two of them have been to the national competition before. After a disappointing finish last year, they are pumping each other up. “We didn’t know what to expect last year,” said Erin, “and we didn’t do well. The winners were veterans and we finished in the bottom half of 20 teams. But this year, we are the veterans.”
From that experience, they knew to hone in on the uses of pharmaceuticals – using both the medical and generic terms -- and the correct spelling of each because spelling counts. At the event, they will write the answers to questions on a small white board using a Jeopardy game format.
More than 16,000 students, teachers and business partners are expected to participate in the 53rd Annual National Leadership and Skills Conference, a showcase for students pursuing career and technical education.
The knowledge and skills gleaned from their studies and co-op jobs give them an advantage. “For the states, we didn’t specifically study for Skills, it’s the things we’ve learned in school over the years that have stuck, and everything we’ve learned from being out in the field,” Erin said. “We are around professionals all of the time doing real patient care.”
But nationals can be a different story. “The questions last year were a lot harder than we were used to,” said Kylie. “We’re going to be doing a lot of study groups,” said Hayleigh. They also plan to stay up all night quizzing each other before the event, sharing Oreos, pizza, and Sour Patch kids to keep them going.
Brianna, the only junior in the group, recently landed a co-op job at Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital in Haverhill, and the three seniors have each worked for more than a year as CNAs -- Kylie at Avita of Newburyport, Hayleigh at Edgewood Retirement Community in North Andover and Erin at Merrimack Valley Health Center in Amesbury.
“I’m excited to go do this with my friends,” Hayleigh said. “I hope we nail it.”