Fourteen year old David Harris Jr. from Woodland Hills School District has been in the program from the beginning. He is currently a sophomore and gave a power point presentation on “Parasitic Mind Control in Insects.” David was in the first group of students which started the program, said his father, David Harris, Sr. ‘He was attending Sterrett Elementary School, and the math teacher suggested to the family that he may be a good candidate for this program. They were looking for students throughout the city schools with an interest in science who were outstanding in areas of academics, behavior, and overall in school performance. Young Harris aspires to become a cardiologist.
“I am able to stay on tract academically because of this program and because of my father’s influence on me, and I’m interested in cardiology because my mother died after having a heart transplant when I was in 6th grade,” he said.
Other parents on hand were Cecil Watkins of Forest Hills and Pittsburgh School Board member, Mark Brentley. Watkins’ two sons 14 year old Benjamin, whose presentation was “Quantum Spin—A New Way to Magnetis, and 13 year old Joseph, who presented on Scientific Methods to Preserve Collapsed Ecosystems, are both in their first year, Watkins said “having successful children is not about the neighborhood, but about the methods used in the home.
“We’ve had successes because of our (my wife and I) commitment to focusing on excellence and establishing a simple life in the household. For example, there is no cable or flat screen TV in our house. The entire family uses one computer, so no one is plugged into the computer 24/7.”
The son and nephew of school board member, Mark Brentley, 14 year old Langston Thurgood Brentley and 13 year old Rowman Ramsey, are both participants in the program. Langston, a 9th grader at Pittsburgh Obama, presented on the “Rise of Glaucoma” in America, and Rowman an 8th grader in Allegheny Traditional Academy presented on “All about Hurricanes.” Both aspire to be physicians, and say the most outstanding part of the program for them was the opportunity to work in simulated situations where you could take actual temperatures and blood pressures on lifelike mannequins.
Rowman who is interested in psychology said “I think if I become a psychologist I can understand what happens to a person’s mind that would make them do drastic things. I am excited about beginning again, I can say this program has done nothing but help me.”
Mark Brentley said ‘When my son and nephew got involved in the program I was amazed at the professionalism, the organized structure, and the time, effort and attention that these doctors give to the young men. I can only imagine the impact this could have within the school system if more young men could have this kind of exposure.”
The students not only get to present in front of their family and peers, but there are words given by Dr. Simmons, and awards are distributed for the best presentations. Also, participants shifts to the next level.
According to Dr Simmons, for each year of attrition, a new curriculum is created; each one different and each one progressively more challenging. Simmons also said the two major priorities for the staff and participating physicians, are first, really working hard with these boys to see that they have the academic accomplishment they will need to pursue these health fields, and two, is keeping them interested.