See My Success: John I. Leonard HS Medical Academy Students Win Grant to Teach CPR to Middle School Students

November 2017

A group of John I. Leonard High School Medical Academy students had an idea that may just save a life. Thanks to a grant from Palm Beach Philanthropy Tank and investor Bill Meyer, they are able to take that idea on the road to educate middle school students on hands-free CPR, basic first aid and how to respond in a medical emergency.


Team “Certified” was awarded $12,500 to purchase CPR dummies and Automated External Defibrillators (AED) simulators that has allowed their fellow academy students to visit middle schools in the District and train students what to do if ever faced with a real-life emergency.

“Some of the students are really into it,” said John I. Leonard Medical Academy teacher Tania Martinez. “The middle school students look up to [the high school students] as role models and they are getting great feedback.”

During a recent visit to L.C. Swain Middle School, the academy students spent a day teaching students – including those in the medical academy at the middle school –  during their P.E. period who to perform hands-only CPR and how to use an AED on an adult, child and infant. “We are also teaching the Heimlich maneuver before the holidays because of all of the food,” Martinez said.

They have also recently trained students at Conniston Middle, Lake Worth Middle and Palm Springs Middle schools and have plans to visit Okeeheelee Middle and Emerald Cove Middle schools in the near future.

During the training, the students gather in small groups and are led by an academy student as they take turns practicing compressions on the CPR dummies.

The students then watched a video which contained real-life stories explaining why knowing these life-saving skills are so important, and academy students acted out real-life scenarios in which students would need to use the skills they have acquired. Each of those scenarios involved an emergency that involved a family member, coach or friend.

“It is likely that the person you save will be a loved one,” said Isabelle Delgado, a senior in the John I. Leonard High School medical academy.

Delgado and her friends built on the idea some former John I. Leonard students had to bring to the Philanthropic Tank, but since they were dual enrolled or have graduated, “the program fell to us and we took over and made it our own,” she said.

The team had to present their idea for the roving lessons in a Shark Tank-style setting to investors of the Palm Beach Philanthropic Tank including Meyer, Christine Stiller, Avy Stein and Julie Fisher Cummings. Meyer recognized this as a lifelong skill and jumped on the chance to invest, Martinez explained.

The training teaches students how to identify when a victim is in distress, how to remain calm and also trains them to be able to provide the most detailed information possible to dispatch when 911 is called.

Greenacres Fire Rescue has also helped with the training, and while the students practiced on their dummies at L.C. Swain, they had to rush to respond to a cardiac call. “That was so cool! We were just learning about this and they had to take off to go to a call,” one student said.

Martinez says that her lessons have paid off. She recently ran into the parent of a seventh grader who had received the training. “The parent gave me a hug and thanked me for saving her life,” Martinez says. The parent was choking on a shrimp at a restaurant and her child immediately jumped up and was able to save his mother.

“It was like the movies. [The training] really works,” Martinez says. “And I am sure we will find that we will have many more success stories.”

For more information on the middle and high school medical academies offered throughout the School District of Palm Beach County and to apply, visit

Choice applications are due January 28.

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