Three King Middle School eighth graders returned home Sunday evening with gold medals in health education from the Health Occupation Students Association International Leadership Conference in Nashville.
“These three fine young ladies worked hard all year for this,” said their proud health teacher, Jon Syre, who accompanied Ella Bisio, Tamara Clemann, and Alyssa Ely to Nashville.
The competition had an international flair as teams from Canada, Mexico, France, and elsewhere participated.
Ella, Tamara, and Alyssa, who will all be attending Manatee High School this fall, and will be enrolled in the health academy, won first-place honors based their oral hygiene and dental care program that they presented to Anna Maria Island Elementary School third graders, and a portfolio on the program they presented in Nashville.
“Winning was the most exciting thing,” the girls said in unison, when asked about the competition.
The King Middle team earned their way to Nashville by finishing second in regional competition, and second in state competition, Syre said.
Although the girls will be entering their freshman year, they already have a good idea what they would like to do in the future. Tamara said that she would like to be an orthopedic surgeon. Alyssa plans to become an orthodontist. And Ella said she would like to become a dermatologist.
The team’s return to Bradenton was delayed several hours by a large storm, that diverted their Southwest Airlines flight to Orlando for refueling, and to wait for better flying conditions.
“There were lightning strikes near the plane,” Ella said, shortly after stepping out of a shuttle van about 7 p.m..
The Florida Highway Patrol issued a travel advisory for the Sunshine Skyway Bridge due to the storm, but the bridge remained open.
Other Manatee County schools participated in the Nashville competition, but complete results were not available Sunday. Mike Barber, spokesman for the Manatee School District, said the full results will be compiled and released Monday.