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D'Youville and da Vinci strengthen partnership with emphasis on health sciences

Mike Desmond

Buffalo Public Schools are strengthening one of the best city schools, by extending the connection between Leonardo da Vinci High School and D'Youville College. Da Vinci is being made more of a health sciences school by offering D'Youville college-credit courses.

Da Vinci is not a particularly well-known school citywide, but it is well known on the West Side and associated with D'Youville since the high school is located in a campus building. It has  nearly 400 students - mostly poor and minority - and a graduation rate percentage in the high 90s.

With the local healthcare industry expected to need 10,000 workers in the next few years, the Buffalo School Board voted Wednesday night to renew its lease with the college and altered the emphasis of classes. D'Youville President Lorrie Clemo said da Vinci's students will be closely linked to the college's array of health sciences programs and the new Health Professions Hub.

"Academic readiness, whether it's doctor prepared healthiness, financial and also transportation," said Clemo. "We're eliminating all these barriers by having the Health Professions Hub. We're delivering the program. We're going to prepare the students and this Health Professions Hub will actually be delivering health care, available so that we have healthy students in our neighborhood."

The da Vinci students will be able to receive college credit toward a college degree. Clemo said the new relationship led to the tighter partnership.

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News
D'Youville College President Lorrie Clemo addresses the Buffalo School Board.

"It's the integration of the academic program," she said. "So we are looking to have the students take the college credits and be able to transfer them into college, with the students able to take those college credits in high school at no cost to their family."

Clemo said a key factor in the lease renewal is that her school has made a major investment in academic support for students - $2 million last year - and those supports will be available to da Vinci students. Buffalo Public schools Superintendent Kriner Cash said this could be a pipeline to jobs and careers.

"The students were there and taking courses, but the numbers who actually matriculated onto D'Youville very small," Cash said. "So we want to try to make that pipeline more robust and, again, aligned as part of the Bargain, new innovative high schools with this emerging industry, 10,000 health care workers needed."

School Board Executive Affairs Vice President Sharon Belton-Cottman said da Vinci is so successful it should be larger.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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