Oskaloosa Freshmen Earn CPR & AED Certification


OSKALOOSA, Iowa–In the busy halls of Oskaloosa High School, between classes, activities, and social lives, a group of freshmen is making waves not just for their academic skills but also for their commitment to community service and leadership. 

Students are going beyond the minimum requirements of the freshman health class and, on their own time, are becoming certified in CPR and AED. Spearheading this initiative is Michelle Lahner, the Oskaloosa High School nurse, who has witnessed a surge in student willingness to obtain life-saving skills.

“This isn’t just about fulfilling a requirement,” Lahner emphasized, “it’s about instilling in these students the confidence to be helpers and leaders.”

Lahner shared that the program, which extends beyond the standard health class curriculum, has garnered significant interest. “Today, I have 10 students who have committed to this extra certification process,” she stated. “In total, 23 freshmen have taken the initiative this year.”

When asked about the significance of this initiative, Lahner stressed the importance of equipping Oskaloosa High School students with the tools to act in emergency situations as students are out and about and living their lives. “Knowing that there are students who can recognize a problem and take life-saving action is invaluable,” comments Lahner. 

Emma Clouse, a student taking the certification training, says, “It’s kind of nice to learn how to do it and save someone’s life,” commenting after giving chest compressions on a training mannequin. “If nobody is there to be able to save a life, it’s good to know you can step in.” Clouse’s future aspiration is to pursue a career in healthcare.

Lilyin Dykstra has a personal reason to get/AED certification, “My stepdad’s a fire chief, as well as a new EMT,” Dykstra revealed, “and what I want to do is a fire medic.” Dykstra’s familiarity with emergency situations extends beyond the classroom, as she recounted experiences where her skills were tested. “A family member has collapsed on me before, and I kind of knew what to do,” she recalled. “Getting the proper education really helps. Because if you go into it without having any knowledge, you could actually injure someone.” Dykstra sees the certification benefiting her in both a professional and personal setting. 

Leahanna Watters reflected on the leadership skills she’s picked up in class along with the life-saving techniques, “I’ve learned that in order to help, you need to be braver than what you’d like to be comfortable with. You need to be confident in your actions to help people.” Watters shared the necessity of being prepared in emergency situations. “This training informed me of what I need to do and how to stay calm.” Watters’ journey highlights the transformative impact of CPR/AED certification, empowering individuals to overcome fear and take action when it matters most.

The heart of Lahner’s mission is fostering confidence among students. “Students may not have all the answers or tools, and that’s okay,” she remarked, “what matters is that they feel empowered to step in and make a difference.”

Lahner is confident in her student’s abilities. “Many of our students work in childcare centers or babysit,” she noted. “For them, this certification is a vital next step in being prepared for any situation.”

In a world where emergencies can strike at any moment, these Oskaloosa High School students are proving that with knowledge and determination, they can make a difference. As students wrap up their certification, they’re not just preparing for leadership roles in their futures; they’re shaping them, one heartbeat at a time.

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