More evidence that Charlottesville-Albemarle has become a notable hub for biotechnology and life sciences:

Monticello High School is launching a Health and Medical Sciences Academy to help point students in the direction of a career in those fields. The academy will open next fall to freshmen from across the county; applications are due today for about 50 openings.

Charlottesville-Albemarle leads the state in growth in biotechnology and life sciences businesses, including research, manufacturing and auxiliary support.

Not just in Central Virginia, but also nationwide, biotech and life sciences are growing industries. But that our area could support a science and technology program for young students speaks volumes to the importance of these industries locally.

Helping high-school students investigate and prepare for careers in those fields will be doubly beneficial — providing students with the opportunity to train for good jobs and providing companies with the trained workers they need to keep operating and growing.

The program will help students discover early on if biotechnology and life sciences are comfortable career possibilities for them. If they find an aptitude and desire for such a career, the academy will help them train for it, or better prepare them for post-secondary education aimed toward those industries.

The program will provide hands-on learning, as well as classroom instruction.

Classroom instruction will be integrated, so that students are working on common themes across courses. For instance, said MHS Principal Cathy Worley, Latin classes could both satisfy foreign language requirements and help students prepare to learn the terminology of medicine; problem solving and critical thinking will be taught in English as well in science classes to reinforce the skills students will need on the job.

In yet another form of integrated instruction, the academy expects to offer internships in medical offices, hospitals and research companies. And direct involvement with local companies will work both ways, as academy planners hope to learn precisely what kinds of skills the companies need in their workforce.

The Health and Medical Sciences Academy is an exciting and forward-thinking program. Kudos to its planners and organizers, and best wishes to the academy class of 2017.

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