EL PASO, Texas - The Canutillo Independent School District is shaping future medical professionals as early as sixth grade.
The new school year brings an exciting opportunity for students interested in the medical field with the Alderete Medical Academy, located at Alderete Middle School.
Alderete Medical Academy introduced its first cohort of sixth grade students this semester.
Canutillo ISD is teaming up with the Hospitals of Providence to give students a one-of-a kind experience with medical professionals.
"Those sixth graders will be allowed to do rotations with nurses and doctors," said Dr. Pedro Galaviz, CISD Superintendent.
Students who complete the academy could earn multiple high school credits.
Some of the courses they will take at the academy will have an emphasis on math and science, they'll also be exposed to sports medicine classes.
As the program develops, district officials said there will be more opportunities to collaborate with Canutillo High School and its Bio-Medical pathway coursework.
"Our goal is to plant seed at early age, to give kids opportunities and experiences. They can graduate from Canutillo (high school), UTEP or Texas Tech, go to providence, and boom, we've got our very own nurses and doctors here," Dr. Galaviz said.
Canutillo ISD is also in the works of adding a veterinary program at Canutillo High School. The district offers about a dozen academic programs and students can also attend Northwest Early College High School.
Another new addition to the district this year, the implementation of a new police department that was approved in March.
"We have a new police chief and you'll see Canutillo police cars out on the road protecting our kids," Galaviz said.
The district is now working to find police officers for its department. Galaviz said they'll add more officers if they see the need.
In the past, the district would contract with the El Paso Police Department and the El Paso Sheriff's Office.
Now that a police force has been approved, it opens up the opportunity to get federal and state grants for additional surveillance cameras and law enforcement equipment.
The police force comes at a time when the district is seeing fast growth in northwest El Paso and Canutillo.
Currently, Canutillo ISD has about 6,000 students at its ten campuses.