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Veterinarian Medical Assistant Program at SHS

Students at Smithville High School are able to pursue a Veterinary Technician or Veterinary Assistant certification in the Vet Tech Animal Facility. Assistant Superintendent, Cheryl Burns, states "The building was built with funds that included federal grant money and local funds. The Achieve Texas College and Career Redesign Grant was received during the school year of August 2007 through January 15, 2008. The high school developed a curriculum and agreement with McLennan Community College for students to receive credit and, for the teachers, staff development dealing with veterinarian medicine."

Peyton Bennight, teacher of the Vet Medical Assistant program, spoke about the building. "The facility is currently being used as the Vet Med Application classroom as well as a place for local stock show exhibitors to house their show projects. This facility allows the students to work with animals on site. This hands-on experience creates a great learning environment. The students become familiar with many of the common types of equipment you see at a vet clinic or animal facility. We recently held a design competition in the Livestock Production class that allowed the students to create a pen design for the facility. The designs showcase what the students have learned about animal handling and livestock equipment. The winning design will be implemented at the barn facility for this coming school year."

The students participating in the Vet Medical Assistant program seem to truly enjoy the experiences and learning opportunities that this program has made possible. They are able to interact with the animals and equipment that the facility has to offer, which gives them real-life practice so that they are ready to go into their chosen field immediately after graduation.

Peyton further explained that "The Veterinarian Medical Application will also be using the facility for their dog grooming activity. Every Thursday, starting April 6th, the vet med class will be grooming dogs from around the community. The classroom set up assimilates that of a vet clinic, with exam tables that transform into grooming stations which are perfect for this activity. It will allow the students to make real world connections with what they are learning. The dog grooming will allow them to practice and perfect their animal handling and restraint techniques, while performing a service to the public. We hope to continue growing the interest of our young agriculturalists by using this facility to provide hands on learning."

Cheryl Burns shared some of the history and purpose of the building, "The design and construction of the vet tech animal facility was to be used for the 2nd year course and students would be able to begin the certification coursework for Veterinarian Technician and Veterinarian Assistant programs. A local architect, Kathleen Bennatt, designed the building for the students to use."
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