Students at Calallen Middle School, Calallen High School and Tuloso-Midway High School were recently treated to a special guest speaker.
Dr. Darin Carroll, a unit leader from the Poxvirus program for the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, spoke about his job at the CDC and discussed some of the situations and diseases with which he has been involved.
One of the items Carroll described was his participation in the 2003 Monkeypox outbreak in the midwestern United States. He used a timeline of that outbreak to show students how a virologist goes about researching an outbreak.
At Calallen Middle School, Carroll was introduced by his niece, CMS student Amanda VanZandt. He spoke to eighth grade students in two sessions. Students asked questions about Carroll's experiences in the field with people who had been exposed to viruses like those that he spoke about.
Another niece, Heather VanZandt, attended the Calallen High School presentations. Carroll was introduced by CHS chemistry teacher Stephanie Storey. Students and teachers gathered for the presentation in the school auditorium.
"We were very excited to have the opportunity to listen to such an interesting person," CHS health science teacher Vicki Parker said.
Carroll again involved the students by answering questions during the presentation.
During the presentation at each school, Dr. Carroll quizzed the "amateur virologists," challenging them to "use their newly acquired knowledge" to answer questions based on the situations he presented to them.
Students at all three schools rose to the occasion, sometimes answering questions that Carroll did not think they would be able to, like naming a disease caused by a prion.
"Darin was very informative and explained everything in a manner that students were able to understand and learn from," TMHS teacher Yvonne Chavera said.
"It was a great privilege to hear Dr. Carroll's lecture about his experiences in the lab and in the field," Nora Martinez, a TMHS science teacher, said. "We hear about and thank our policemen and firemen who take care of our safety and save us from disaster and fire, but we rarely hear about or think about the scientists who defend us against the smallest enemies like a virus or a disease which we cannot see or smell.
"So, for me, I am very grateful for the work that (Carroll) does every day."