“California, Here I Come” crooned Al Jolson back in the 1920s. The popular tune almost became the state song.
Alhough recent WCHS graduates Lauren Hunt, Jenna Mayfield and Katie Wanamaker have probably never heard it, they might want to at least learn the chorus, since it’s going to have some significance for them this week.
The three young ladies will be heading to the Golden State to participate in the national Health Occupations Students of America competition in Anaheim on June 21-26.
The focus of this year’s contest is creative problem solving, and the girls have already competed at the regional and state level, where they placed fourth out of around 30 teams.
Normally only the top three finishers get to go to the nationals, but since at least one of those teams opted not to make the trip, the local team got bumped up and became eligible.
What followed was a round of fundraising to acquire the money to make the long journey cross country, which came to around $6,000, according to Cappi Jones, one of the HOSA advisors. Jones and Katie’s mom, Dawn, will be making the trip with the girls.
Jones says there has been an active HOSA club at the high school for a many years. The school generally competes at the local, regional and state level, and there have been teams that won at the national level.
“We don’t always go to nationals even if they qualify because it’s just so expensive,” Jones said. “It just depends if the kids are gung-ho enough to raise the money. That’s what gets us there.”
All three girls say the state competition was certainly a challenge, but they found it to be fun too. There are two rounds in the competition, with the first being a written test where they had to demonstrate their understanding of problem-solving processes and theories. The top scoring teams then advance to round two, where they are given a potential healthcare-related issue and have 30 minutes to analyze the problem and present a solution.
“Our problem was how could we reduce violence in our local middle school,” Wanamaker said.
“They were saying that watching so much TV was causing violence in middle schools,” Mayfield said. “And how would we fix that.”
The three girls, who are longtime close friends, are so in tune with each other they tend to finish each other’s thoughts to the point it’s almost like having a rapid fire conversation with one entity who just happens to have three different voices.
“We give Lauren our ideas,” Mayfield said. “And then she says, ‘OK, let me think about it,’ and then she just figures it all out.
“She knows so many facts,” said Wanamaker, “and does a mental outline in her head,” added Mayfield, “We all have different parts of it,” Hunt interjected, “And then we just do it,” added Wanamaker, “I do most of the presenting part of it,” Hunt added. “I’m not shy. I can talk about random stuff for hours.”
“We make a pretty good team,” said Wanamaker.
All three admit they enjoy competing a lot more than fundraising.
“The competition was the best part,” said Hunt. “The whole experience of all of us being together.
“We had a good time, and I think that made us do better,” said Wanamaker.
“A lot of them were worried,” said Hunt. “But we went in there thinking, OK if we do well, and OK if we don’t, and I think that helped us succeed.”
And the girls are definitely taking that almost symbiotic team spirit and confidence with them to California and the nationals.
“We’re gonna win,” said Hunt, “Oh yeah,” said Mayfield, “We are,” said Wanamaker.