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Nurses offer hands-on learning at school
Virginia Parks School holds Panthers Empowering Parents Night
Teacher Janet Stanhope volunteered at the healthy smoothie station on Tuesday at Virginia Parks Elementary School. - photo by DALE BUTLER/The Courier

Parking was sparse at Virginia Parks Elementary School on Tuesday, March 11 as more than 200 people attended Panthers Empowering Parents (PEP) Night in the cafeteria.

Nursing students from Cal State Stanislaus volunteered their time.

"We do it annually," said Jennifer Backman, Virginia Parks principal. "We always have a large turnout. The focus this year is health, science and college. It's priceless to watch the students explore things they
wouldn't get to in an everyday classroom setting."

The event got underway at 6:15 p.m. and ended at 7:45 p.m.
Inquisitive students learned about the heart, CPR and first aid and nutrition while cycling through different stations.

Leah Aragon, a fourth-semester nursing student at Cal State Stanislaus, worked at the heart station.

"It's a volunteer opportunity for Student Nurses Association," she said. "The kids make me excited about it."

Siblings Joel Ontiveros (5) and Nevaeh Quintana (3) prodded a pig's heart as their mother Elizabeth watched from nearby.

Joel is enrolled in kindergarten at Virginia Parks.

"It's an awesome experience for them," Elizabeth said. "It's hands-on learning. They were curious. They didn't know what it was until she explained it was a pig's heart."

The Adamakis family, father Peter and children Christopher (13) and Athena (12), made the short drive from Modesto to attend the event.

Christopher (13) and Athena (12) are in the eighth and sixth grades, respectively, at Ustach Middle School.

Mother Christine Adamakis teaches third grade at Virginia Parks.

She, along with fellow teachers Koather Alfareh and Janet Stanhope, volunteered at the healthy smoothie station.

"My wife works here," Peter said. "She invited us. It's amazing."

Athena Adamakis and Virginia Parks third-grader Jeremy Godwin (8) took turns listening to each other's hearts with stethoscopes.

Athena bandaged Jeremy's right arm at the first-aid station.

Third-grader Oscar Carrillo (8) enjoyed learning about cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

"I liked doing CPR," he said. "It gave my arms a workout."
Rachel Larriva and Heather Jones, Virginia Parks' alumni currently student-teaching at the school, spoke to parents and students about the importance of education.

"It's amazing being back here," Larriva said. "A lot of great memories. I had phenomenal teachers. I really am living my dream."

Said Backman: "They share what they receive. It's so valuable to our campus."