March 9, 2017

DAYTON, Ohio - Studying about how the body depends on blood wasn't enough for members of the anatomy class at "DECA," the Dayton Early College Academy.   Actually donating blood seemed like a better way to not only learn, but to help save lives.  Just like that, they were all in.

Teachers and administrators organized a visit to Community Blood Center for about 20 students, most of them seniors, and all first-time donors.   They carpooled from their classrooms on the University of Dayton campus to the Dayton CBC Donation Center Wednesday, March 8 and quickly filled the donor beds.

"We were studying the cardiovascular system," said science teacher Rachel Dearden. "The students started asking, 'Can we give blood?' So I called about it."

"We're not a big school," said STEM Director Tracy Martz. "In the ninth through 12th grades we have about 300 students.  We couldn't really have a blood drive at our school, so we talked about coming here."

Fourteen students and teachers donated, including Rachel who made her third lifetime blood donation Wednesday and DECA Director Katy Jo Bull, who made her second.   The DECA visit boosted the Dayton Donor Center to 60 registrations for the day, 48 donations and 17 first-time donors for 137 percent of the collection goal.

DECA began in 2003 as a partnership between Dayton Public Schools and the University of Dayton. It is one of the first early college high schools in the state and the 10th in the nation.   Total enrollment, including elementary and middle schools, is 1,113 with an emphasis on helping low-income and minority students.

"I think they learned about the value of donating," said Rachel Dearden. "When they come here they learn what makes for an eligible donation.  Many of them are interested in the medical field, so they're asking questions about what the staff is doing.  It's almost like job shadowing."

"I wanted to give blood," said first-time donor Nyaira Farley. "It seemed like a nice thing to do."

"It feels good, it feels really good!" said classmate Jocelyn Martin.  "I want to go into the medical field. It's a fun field trip to close out our unit on blood. Our next will be on tissue and the heart."

Another DECA staff member setting an example for the young people was Ronald Hill, who works in special projects.  He made his fifth lifetime donation Wednesday.  "I was a DECA Red Cord graduate in 2013," said Ronald, who qualified for CBC's Red Cord Honor Program by registering to donate three times while in high school.

"We're a very close class," DeAngela Stargell said about her fellow DECA seniors as they donated together.  She has thought about a career in medicine, but decided she would rather become a history teacher.  Making her first blood donation gave her a lot of satisfaction.

"They say one donation can save up to three lives," said DeAngela. "Maybe I'll save three lives! So that's nice."