Juliet Davis, a Straub Middle School student, performs CPR on a dummy during a middle school health sciences summer camp at Sprague High School on July 8, 2019 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
In mid-July, Sprague High School appears mostly deserted.
But one basement classroom teemed with excitement Monday as 20 students practiced chest compression, hooked up defibrillators and tried to listen to heart monitors over the din of people screaming, "I have an emergency!"
It was the first day of health services camp, a week-long program for Salem-Keizer middle school students taught by Sprague High School teachers.
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At the start of camp, "most of them didn't know each other. You could've heard a pin drop," said health and sports medicine teacher Kimo Mahi.
Three hours later, the teens were working together to save the lives of their dummies while teasing each other.
A group of four 7th graders dissolved into laughter as the team realized all four had been "French kissing" the same CPR mask.
"They could've been best friends for years," Mahi said of the class.
Cole Andrizzi takes over CPR during a practice session at health sciences summer camp (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
The camp is one of nine Salem-Keizer offers for middle school students to explore career options with high school career and technical education instructors.
They're free to students, who are selected by lottery in the spring, with 25 spots at each camp.
Other options include emergency services, construction, Lego robotics, and digital art and design.
"It's a good way to highlight your programs," Mahi said. He teaches the health sciences camp with Sprague colleague Amy West.
Camps focus heavily on hands-on learning. Lego students will visit A-dec, a dental equipment manufacturer. Culinary camp participants went to Willamette Pie Factory and a local orchard.
The health sciences curriculum includes a visit to the Oregon State Hospital museum and visits to dental and other health-related programs at Chemeketa Community College, as well as the Western University of Health Sciences in Lebanon.
Mahi used to teach middle school before coming to Sprague and said he enjoyed the group's enthusiasm.
"Most of the middle schoolers are still really interested in school," he said.
Sprague health and sports medicine teacher Kimo Mahi holds up t-shirts for campers (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
On Monday, 20 students got certified in CPR and basic first aid, which includes training on heat-related illnesses like heat stroke, wound care, insect bites and stings and seizures.
The camp also includes "Stop the Bleed" training from a Salem Health nurse, where students learn about tourniquets and other techniques to control heavy blood loss.
Cole Andrizzi, a Leslie Middle School 8th grader, said he was most looking forward to that training.
"I don't know why, but it's one of my favorite subjects," he said.
Zoey Arreola pretends to call 911 during a CPR training course at health sciences summer camp (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)
Many students in the group said they intend to pursue a career in health.
Andrizzi likes emergency medical services.
Zoey Arreola, a 6th grader at Houck, said she wants to be a nurse like her mother. It wasn't her first time learning CPR, and she went through the compressions with a practiced confidence.
Aleyda Rico, a Straub Middle School 7th grader, said she wants to be a surgeon after watching The Night Shift, a medical drama, on Netflix.
"It's cool that you get to learn stuff that you could eventually take as a career," said Esmeralda Garcia, one of Rico's classmates.
Garcia was eager to model her health sciences camp lunch bag, which she wore as a fanny pack, sparking laughter from her new friends.
Have a story idea? Reporter Rachel Alexander: firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-575-1241.