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Eleven CCHS students earn CNA certification

Eleven CCHS students earn CNA certification
Recent CCHS CNA graduates include, front, Anna Uriostegui, Gea Calpito, instructor Kathy Cerwinski, Aliyah Ortiola, Rachel Hoffman, Aaliyah Schmitt. Back, Hannah DeVore, Elayna Hemesath, Abrianna Tynan, Kassey Kakac, D’Nesha Smith. Missing from the photo is graduate Joanna Juarez. (Photo submitted.)
By James Grob, [email protected]

Eleven Charles City School District students have received their certificates as certified nursing assistants, completing the required coursework and clinical experience while still in high school.

It was the latest graduation for the program that was started in 2018 through the efforts of students in the school district and the Chautauqua facilities in Charles City.

The graduates this year are Anna Uriostegui, Gea Calpito, Aliyah Ortiola, Rachel Hoffman, Aaliyah Schmitt, Hannah DeVore, Elayna Hemesath, Abrianna Tynan, Kassey Kakac, Joanna Juarez and D’Nesha Smith.

The instructors were Kathy Cerwinske, RN, the corporate quality manager at Chautauqua Guest Homes, and CCHS teacher Donna Forsyth.

“They were an amazing group of students to work with and they all have bright futures in health care,” said Forsyth.

A reception was held for the graduates at their high school classroom on Wednesday, attended by teachers, other school officials and some parents.

The students met every other day for two months in the classroom, with classes from 5:45 a.m. until 9 a.m. They then had their hands-on “clinicals,” working with actual residents. The class was split between the two local Chautauqua facilities, and most of the graduates said the interaction with the residents was the best part of the class.

“We got to physically work with residents and build relationships with them,” said CNA graduate Elayna Hemesath. “It was a really awesome experience.”

“I loved to work with the people, and I got attached to them,” added D’Nesha Smith. “It was so much fun to work with them.”

All of the students said they intend to go into the medical field. Most of the students took their certification tests — both written and skills tests — in Calmar at Northeast Iowa Community College over spring break.

“The CNA program was really good for all of us, because we really want to go into nursing,” said graduate Anna Uriostegui. “It was good to see what that career path would look like.”

In 2018, the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals approved Charles City High School’s application to offer a 75-hour certified nursing assistant program. The program contains a rigorous curriculum, established and approved by the state of Iowa.

CCHS students worked with managers at Chautauqua Guest Homes to obtain state approval and specifically tailored the classes to meet the needs of high school students. The program allows for flexibility to engage students in the class while still allowing them to be involved in the full high school experience.

“It was an enjoyable and educational experience for me,” said Gea Calpito, who plans to get into the nursing program at the University of Iowa. “I got to learn a lot of things I didn’t expect to learn, such as how to communicate with the residents and how to provide the best care for them.”

Graduate Aliyah Ortiola also plans to study nursing at the University of Iowa, and said that the CNA class gave her the chance to work with some “amazing people.”

“This class also gave us the opportunity to not only learn about the health care field, but also learn about ourselves and who we are as people,” she said. “It really helped us grow.”

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