Rosa Corona and Andrea Espinoza work together in the medical skills lab.

Cathedral City High School students in the HEAL Academy came back from summer break to a brand new skills lab. The teachers worked during the summer to complete the lab, so it would be ready to go on the first day of school. The skills lab has a simulated doctor’s office, a hospital room, a medical laboratory, a dentist’s office, a veterinary clinic and more. At each station, students learn the skills and careers available within it. The students have named the skills lab the HEALing Center.

The HEALing Center also has mannequins that students use to learn skills such as transferring patients from one bed to another. Replicated arms allow students to practice inserting IVs, giving injections and suturing wounds. There is one mannequin that allows students to listen to the heart, lungs and bowels to make different diagnoses through computer-generated simulations.

The academy studies environmental health as one of its components. The skills lab incorporates this in the form of a pond to raise mosquito fish. Mosquito fish eat mosquitos and their larvae which inhibits the spread of diseases such as West Nile and Zika.

The research center includes both digital and light microscopes which are used to study health on the cellular level. There are also many interactive 3D models that students can manipulate for a tactical learning experience.

Jomar Agbayani in the lab’s dentistry station

The nutrition center helps students understand healthy foods, diabetes and dental health. This demonstrates how diet is associated with multiple areas of health. Students will present information learned about healthy foods in a community health fair in the spring.

In addition to the different stations, the academy purchased an Anatomage Table which shows a body in 3D. It can be dissected and manipulated to study anatomy and physiology. It’s really a simulated cadaver and is often used in medical schools. The imagery brings to life the things they have been learning about in the classroom.

The seniors became the ambassadors for the HEALing Center. Each senior learned a station and then presented that station to the underclassmen, parents, business partners, and the district and county superintendents. Many alumni came to the open house and commented that they wished they had the skills lab when they were students there, adding that this will better equip the students to enter the workforce and provide them with many post-secondary opportunities.

For more information on Coachella Valley HEAL academies, please visit

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