Numerous Columbia County high school students recently qualified to compete in June at the Health Occupations Students of America National Leadership Conference in Dallas.
They qualified for the nationwide contest in March by finishing in the top three in events at the HOSA State Leadership Conference in Atlanta.
Lakeside High School seniors Taylor Reichold, 17, and Caitee Mace, 18, took first place in the community awareness category with Project Julia. Their project intends to raise awareness about Glanzmann's thrombasthenia, a rare disorder in which the lack of a platelet protein vital for clotting leads to uncontrollable bleeding and severe bruising.
Taylor's 9-year-old sister, Julia Smith, has the disease, which made the project personal for the girls.
"When (people) look at Julia, they don't realize how badly it affects her because she doesn't let people see how it affects her," Mace said.
At the state competition, the Lakeside students gave an eight-minute PowerPoint presentation and put together a scrapbook to describe Julia and events such as Jump for Julia and a casino night they helped organize to raise money for research.
"We want to take it more to our crowd and have them be more aware about (the disorder)," Taylor said. "If more of the young know about it, then the next generation will know about it."
Four Greenbrier High School seniors -- Rachel Van Dyke, Ansley Thompson, Caroline Campbell and Natalie Smith -- also qualified for the national competition in various events. In addition to taking a written test, the Greenbrier students had to demonstrate specific skills in their competitions.
Van Dyke, 18, finished first in the dental spelling contest.
"I kind of just got thrown into it. I'm not so much interested in the dental field, but I'm a good speller," she said.
Ansley, 17, took second place in the nursing assisting event.
The competitors had to be able to perform 20 skills, but they had to perform only one in front of an evaluator for the contest.
"We didn't know which skill we were going to have to do," said Ansley, who had to demonstrate her hand-washing abilities. "The skill was really easy, but I didn't know I would place because I didn't know what I did on the test."
Caroline, 17, came in third place in the medical spelling competition.
"I've been in several class spelling bees before, and I was pretty good at it," Caroline said. "I didn't think that I got third place."
Natalie, 17, drew on her artistic abilities to finish third in the extemporaneous health poster contest. Competitors had three hours to create posters that described what HOSA means to them.
"I just started going at it," Natalie said. "I was excited, and I didn't think that I was going to get third place, or place at all."
Other Greenbrier winners included fourth-place finishers Katie Dalton and Leslie Morris in dental terminology and physical therapy, respectively, and fifth-place finishers Morgan Vaughn and Lauren Ryan in knowledge tests: nutrition, and knowledge tests: pathophysiology, respectively.
Greenbrier, which has 128 HOSA members, received a plaque for having the largest membership in Georgia this year.
Evans High School had a top-five finisher as well. Hollis Wells placed third in the dental spelling competition.
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