Senator Cassidy meets with St. Amant High School students

Greg Fischer Editor-in-chief
Cassidy speaks with students at the Ascension Parish Allied Health Center of Excellence.

When U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy visited St. Amant High School on August 29, the first place the doctor was taken was the Ascension Allied Health Center of Excellence.

This is a facility shared not just by St. Amant students, but those from all area high schools said Principal Beth Templet.

The Allied Health Center is instructed by Sarah Dubois, RN. The classroom features several different stations where students who aspire towards the medical field after graduation may get a jump start before college.

The republican senator witnessed students practicing taking blood pressure and spoke with Dubois.

Students' Sadie Lato and Ashlyn Vaughn practiced changing a bed with a dummy patient present. Lato said she wants to become an NICU nurse. Vaughn wants to be a CRNA.

Cassidy watched as three others were fastening a gate belt to help someone walk. "1, 2, 3, 4, 5," is the number of steps they took to practice the procedure.

Currently there are five St. Amant, four Dutchtown, and three East Ascension students in the class. Students at Donaldsonville High have their own facility. In December they will get experience in actual hospitals, such as Baton Rouge General and Our Lady of the Lake.

"When we go to the hospitals these kids transform into professionals," Dubois said.

Cassidy complimented them for the work they are preparing for. They got to ask him a few questions.

"What inspired you to become a doctor?" one asked.

"I wanted to help people," replied Cassidy. The senator also touted past success in his work with the Hepatitis B immunization effort.

"Why are you pro vaccine?" Larissa Najera asked him.

"The folks who talk about the problems of vaccines are wrong," Cassidy said.

Another student, Haylee Hue, asked Cassidy why he left the medical profession to pursue a career in politics. Later in the AP Government class another student asked him the same question.

"I think sometimes God puts discontentment in our lives to push us along," he answered.

The senior AP Government and Politics class taught by Mrs. Sandridge is where Cassidy was led to next by an entourage that included Superintendent David Alexander and Director of Secondary Education Mia Edwards.

"Senator Cassidy's office and all of our representatives have been so instrumental in getting us over the flood," Alexander said.

The tour included a look at renovations that are in progress. These upgrades were set back by the 2016 flood while the community has been working just to get back on its feet, said Edwards.

Cassidy spoke with the AP class for about 15 minutes and answered some tough questions for instance regarding problems with healthcare for immigrants being detained at the Mexico boarder.

"Tough but fair," Cassidy would say later on.

He invited all the students to apply for an internship with his office in Washington, D.C. when they turn 21.

Next, the senator met with a handful of St. Amant journalism students in a round table discussion. The students showed concern for the nation's education systems.

"Teacher salaries have to be a priority," Cassidy said. "The most powerful instrument to change someone's life is education."

Then they asked about how the current "fake news" narrative hurts citizens' belief in Freedom of the Press.

"We need a free press," Cassidy said. "But there are questions of integrity regarding the press. People should bring a healthy skepticism to the issues."

Cassidy thanked the students and invited them to intern in Washington, D.C.

On the way out the door he was handed a rubber boot that had been painted by student Brett Allen. This was given to Cassidy for not only visiting, but standing up for the area in the fight for federal assistance after the 2016 flood.