Med students teach kids in a sandy class


Photos by Alan M. Dumoff

sandyclass1-webGerri Ward and medical students of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine pose by a sand heart on the North Wildwood beach Oct. 8. The medical students spent the day at the beach to teach children of Cape Trinity Catholic School an anatomy lesson.

Earlier this month, elementary and medical school students came together on the beaches of Wildwood for the first time in what may turn out to be a long-term collaboration between the two schools.

Cape Trinity Catholic and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) students participated in the Oct. 8 “Hearts in the Sand” program. Wildwood elementary school students created anatomically correct model hearts, with mentorship from the medical school students.

The idea for the partnership came about last year when the school was exploring an affiliation with a local university to further its vision of providing quality education.

sandyclass2-webDonna DiPasquale, Cape Trinity’s curriculum director and eighth grade homeroom teacher, had a connection with PCOM, and got in touch with the school’s surgery club, consisting of first and second year medical students.

On that Friday on the beach, more than 50 medical students and PreK-8 Cape Trinity students broke up into groups and constructed sand hearts, using PVC pipe, vacuum hoses or pipe cleaners to fully create 3-D models. The medical students and Cape Trinity teachers then judged the hearts, considering accuracy, effort and group work.

The year-long theme of studying the heart is a way to remember Jennifer Ward, a former teacher at St. Ann School, Wildwood, who died in 2005 of a cardiac arrhythmia at the age of 29. A foundation, the Jennifer Ward Memorial Fund, was started to increase public support for charitable activities in Cape May County.

The next collaboration between the two schools is the Gobble Wobble, a 5k and 1-mile fun walk the Saturday after Thanksgiving at Cape Trinity. Another event is planned for next year, around Valentine’s Day.

“Our students are excited about coming to Wildwood,” said PCOM Department of Surgery Chairman, Dr. Art Sesso, in announcing the partnership last January.

“We look forward to serving the students of Cape Trinity Catholic through teaching, mentoring, and good fellowship.”

The Hearts in the Sand “pulled two schools together,” said DiPasquale, “that are both rooted in service.”