Utica Community Schools introduces new Academy for Health and Human Services

Utica High School academy focuses on rehabilitation services, public safety, and therapeutic services


In their Medical Science 1 class, teacher Melissa Rice introduces the Anatomage Table to sophomore Allison Derk, as well as juniors Emma McIntosh and Cross Porretta. A new addition to the medical lab, the table will be used as a learning tool in the academy. “The Anatomage Table is an exciting thing,” Rice said. “There’s no other way high school students could be exposed to something like this. I can talk all day about how the heart beats and how the muscles work, but if I can show students and they can see it, it really helps make those connections a little more real.”

Utica Community Schools students now have another path to choose, with Utica Academy for Health and Human Services joining Stevenson’s Center for Manufacturing, Automation, and Design Engineering as the second academy in the district.

The academy, aimed at incoming freshmen, will prepare students for various careers in the medical field.

“I have high hopes for this academy,” academy administrator Jeremy Kranzo said. “The staff has great ideas, and I feel like we’re in a really good spot.”

Students in the academy will be able to select from three different pathways that will prepare them for jobs in the medical field.

“There are three pathways or majors,” Kranzo said. “There’s public safety, which involves EMT, fire, and public safety officers. It will prepare students to, if they didn’t want to go to college, do quick trainings after high school and walk out with EMT training.”

Abby Williams

The second branch deals with therapeutics.

“I’ve been describing the therapeutic branch to everybody as when you go to the doctor,” Kranzo said. “When you walk into a hospital, that’s the therapeutic component: doctors, nurses, physician’s assistants, nurse assistants.”

The last branch involves rehabilitation.

“This branch will involve the processes you go through after you have a surgery,” Kranzo said, “such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, sports medicine, sports training, and physical fitness trainers.”

In addition to core academic classes, academy students will take classes in all three branches of HHS before choosing a major.

“During their freshman and sophomore years, students will be exposed to all three branches,” Kranzo said, “then they can filter into one of those three during their junior years.”

To provide students with a more hands-on learning experience, the academy has purchased an Anatomage Table, a virtual cadaver that allows students to perform surgeries and analyze the human body. Additions, such as the table, will create a new approach to educate students.

“I visited high schools that had things like this, and what I was able to see was that it really makes school different,” academy coach and ninth grade CTE teacher Melissa Rice said. “It takes what we all know as ‘school’ and blows it completely out of the water. It basically reinvents school for students that don’t learn the same way.”

Rice is looking forward to reshaping how students learn within the academy.

“Overall, I think this is going to be an exciting opportunity for us to re-imagine what education could and should look like, especially for today’s learners,” Rice said. “I think a lot of people would maybe argue that the way we teach and learn is a bit outdated for today’s youth. I think this academy is going to breathe new life into both learning for students and the way I teach. I’m excited for that opportunity.”