Over 100 Texas chapters of the Health Occupations Students of America converged on Copperas Cove High School last weekend for the Area 5 Spring Leadership Conference.

The conference actually started and ended at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.

The opening session Feb. 2 had an atmosphere similar to a party or a pep rally, complete with dancing and cheering from the 1,100-plus students and advisers.

“HOSA is, first and foremost, about giving students the chance to form bonds with other kids from other places,” said Barton Roberts, Copperas Cove health science teacher and one of the HOSA advisers.

He added that HOSA gives students who are considering a career in health-related fields a chance to form friendships and learn about teamwork.

Membership also provides some valuable networking tools, Roberts said.

For Cove junior Hailey Hawkins, being part of HOSA is a path toward reaching her goal of being a physician’s assistant.

“I like the environment,” she said. “It will help with my career.”

Cove ninth grader Lillian Peterson joined her fellow Bulldawgs in cheering loudly when their school was introduced.

“I’ve always been interested in the health field,” she said. Looking forward to becoming a surgeon in the Army, “It’s a chance to learn about health.”

Kasemea Johnson, a Cove junior, finds HOSA “opens up a lot of doors for me.” Her plan is to become a registered nurse.

Cove Independent School District superintendent Joe Burns attended the the opening session in Killeen. “It’s always great to see our kids come together to compete.”

Competition was part of the HOSA conference, with students putting on their scrubs to show their clinical and diagnostic skills, create posters or debate biomedical topics.

Alexis Grasso, HOSA Area 5 president and Copperas Cove High student, encouraged the students she addressed during the opening session to make “The Climb” and “Create Your Future” — two themes of HOSA events this year.

Grasso instilled pride in the crowd by announcing Texas has the largest HOSA membership, in excess of 35,000 students. As for the HOSA state conference coming up, its theme of “Reaching New Heights” reflects what all the HOSA members at the Spring Leadership Conference are striving to do.

254-501-7568 | jferraro@kdhnews.com

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