Pellissippi State gives high school students hands-on experiences at summer camps

High school students from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley work on the SimMan at Nursing Camp
YouthForce students from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley listen to the lungs of SimMan during Nursing camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.

Something is happening.

The nurses check the patient’s pupils. “They’re asymmetrical,” one reports. Stethoscopes out, they listen to his chest, where they hear an asthmatic wheeze. A few minutes later, they’re administering CPR, taking turns counting and doing chest compressions.

It’s not a real patient, and it’s not an emergency. It’s just a typical day at Nursing camp at Pellissippi State Community College.

YouthForce, the workforce development program of the Boys & Girls Club of the Tennessee Valley, will bring 60 high school students to Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus this summer to experience week-long Technical Training Camps.

Nursing and Welding camps were held June 4-7 while Cybersecurity and Manufacturing camps will take place June 18-21.

“We like to make everything hands-on applications of the theory,” explained Andy Polnicki, director of the MegaLab on the Strawberry Plains Campus. “I went to a traditional (four-year) school, and when I graduated and got out into the real world, I realized I only knew a lot of theory. Here at Pellissippi State we spend a lot of time actually applying that theory.”

The goal of YouthForce, which is open to any high school student in Knox and Blount counties, is to expose high school students to skilled trades and to gain first-job skills, explained YouthForce Director Rebecca McDonough. This is the third year YouthForce has held the camps at Pellissippi State.

Decked out in matching scrubs with fully equipped nurse’s kits, the 16 students in Nursing camp rattled off all the things they learned during the week, from the medical (how to stop a bleed, how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, how to administer CPR to a baby) to the practical (how to change hospital beds, how to wash their hands, how to put a pillowcase on a pillow without getting it contaminated).

“We got to experience real nurses, and they shared their stories with us,” explained Callie Anderson, a rising senior at Fulton High School. “Them giving us that extra background of what it’s like to be in the nursing field and then all the hands-on skills labs was just beyond my expectations. I’m so appreciative of this program.”

As nursing instructor Jennifer Priano started to walk a group of students through how to deliver a baby on the SimMom, an advanced full-body birthing simulator, Auna Campbell could not contain her excitement.

“I watch labor videos all the time! People think I’m weird, but it’s really interesting,” said Campbell, a rising junior at West High School. “I want to be a nurse, and I know what I need to do, but I need guidance to know what classes to take and to keep me on the right path because labor and delivery takes a whole lot of schooling. This camp this week helps a lot.”

A high school student from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley works on a project during Welding camp
A YouthForce student from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley works on a project during Welding camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.

Downstairs, the 14 students in Welding camp showed off what they’d learned how to make this week.

“This was my first experience with welding, but it’s really cool,” said Tashaun Patrick, a rising junior at South Doyle High School. “I love the plasma cutter. It’s just the most amazing thing. I made my football number and put it on a post. Today I took these random parts and made an eagle. We’re making a lot of cool stuff that you wouldn’t make in a typical high school class.”

Patrick noted he enjoyed Welding camp so much that he plans to make welding his back-up plan if a sports career doesn’t work out.

“This has been all you want in a summer camp,” Patrick added. “We’ve been learning and having a lot of fun doing it.”

For more information about YouthForce, visit www.bgctnv.org/youthforce. For more information on Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

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YouthForce students at Nursing camp, lined up to practice the Heimlich maneuver
YouthForce students line up to practice the Heimlich maneuver during Nursing camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.
YouthForce student learns to take a manual blood pressure at Nursing camp
A YouthForce student learns to take blood pressure manually at Nursing camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.
YouthForce students perform CPR on SimMan
YouthForce students perform CPR on SimMan, a patient simulator, during Nursing camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.
YouthForce students check SimMan's pupils
YouthForce students check SimMan’s pupils during Nursing camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.
Female YouthForce welding student with work she made at camp
A YouthForce student from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley shows off the artwork she made during Welding camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.
YouthForce student welding
YouthForce student Tashaun Patrick practices welding during Welding camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.
YouthForce male student with project he made at welding camp
Teshaun Patrick, a rising junior at South Doyle High School, shows off how his football number he made with a plasma cutter during Welding camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.
YouthForce students in full welding gear
YouthForce students from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley watch as Pellissippi State Welding Technology Program Coordinator Adam Streich (not pictured) shows them what they’ll be learning next at Welding camp on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus.