Program joins academics and mental health to help students

By Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 1/20/21

ORANGE PARK – Orange Park High became the district’s third Community Partnership School, which unifies a focus on academics, counseling, mentoring, health and more for any and all students at the …

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Program joins academics and mental health to help students

Posted

ORANGE PARK – Orange Park High became the district’s third Community Partnership School, which unifies a focus on academics, counseling, mentoring, health and more for any and all students at the school.

The program represents a 25-year commitment from the Children’s Home Society and its regional partners in Orange Park Medical Center, St. Johns River State College, Palms Medical Group and the Clay County School District. The school held a symbolical ribbon cutting in its cafeteria last Friday, Jan. 15. to officially kick off the 25-year partnership.

“Here at Orange Park High School, we have the opportunity to meet the needs of 1,600 students,” OPH principal Clayton Anderson said. “These students come to us from all walks of life and various backgrounds. This is truly the melting pot of the county...and it is imperative that we as educators grow with our students and build their capacity while building our own.”

Superintendent David Broskie said it takes a team effort of teachers in the classroom and partners outside of the school in order to prepare students for what lies beyond high school. He said the fact that so many of the community members showed up to the ceremony and that so much of the community is behind the Community Partnership School shows that Clay County is committed to this idea of helping students in not just education, but in every facet of their life should they need it.

The chief medical officer of the Orange Park Medical Center, Bradley Shumaker, said that the hospital’s involvement alongside the Palms Medical Group is to ensure that students get the medical attention they need.

“Our involvement is multifactorial really,” Shumaker said. “We’ll be helping out with everything from basic access to preventative care and wellness to dental care to mental health needs like depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse and nutritional issues as well. It’s about ensuring these kids have access to the...medical attention they might need or want.”

Shumaker said alleviating the health-related stress off a student’s back can help them focus more on their academics, which he said beyond actually helping them medically, is the overall goal.

OPH Senior D’Marre Graddock spoke to the greatness of his school.

“[The year] 2020 was a difficult year and a disappointing one, but I can say confidently that Orange Park High School has never lost hope for the future. Orange Park High School has never lost hope in the students and Orange Park high school has never lost hope in each other.

“Orange Park High school will continue being the cornerstone of diversity (working) to give students a sound education. What I want to see is this high school..take our vision and conquer anything that lies ahead in the future.”

Children’s Home Society regional executive director, Ernest Hamilton, said the organization and its partners are dedicated to the school, which is why it made a 25-year commitment.

“In collaboration with our Orange Park community, we work to bring the right solutions to the right place and to the school where kids and their families can easily access the help they need to succeed,” Hamilton said. “As we celebrate the Community Partnership School model at Orange Park High School. We are taking one significant step forward to empower our children and strengthen the future of this community.”

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