In today's economy, a big concern for many people is just getting a job. In Meridian, the healthcare industry is the largest job provider.
With almost 19 percent of jobs here being healthcare related, local officials project that the new Health Small Learning Community at Meridian High School will give students an advantage.
The healthcare industry provides over 6,000 jobs in Meridian and is by far the largest employer. With well over 40 occupational opportunities in healthcare, officials from local hospitals are praising Meridian High's new program.
"We think it's going to give them an edge on education and learning," said Rush Hospital's Donnie Smith. "When people get involved in something they are interested in, they'll learn better."
"For these students to get that much exposure to healthcare it can prepare them mentally for the training program that they might go into to advance their career," said Ray Humphreys of Anderson Hospital.
Both Rush and Anderson hospitals are partnering with Meridian High for the new Health Small Learning Community.
The classrooms have equipment and other supplies that the hospitals have provided for the program. Officials say what is truly invaluable is the expertise that workers from those facilities will share with employees and students.
"Some of our people who are experts in certain areas like lab, radiology and nursing will be used as instructors from time to time," Humphreys said.
"This is a win-win situation for the hospitals in Meridian and also the students," said Smith.
The Health Small Learning Community will officially open when school starts Monday, Aug. 6.
Superintendent Dr. Alvin Taylor says preparations are already underway for the opening of the school's next small learning communities.
"The ones we're looking at now are our STEM programs which are: science, technology, engineering and math, as well as our visual performing arts learning center," said Taylor.
Taylor says the district hopes to open two other small learning communities next year. He says the plan is to have all of Meridian High School divided into different schools of discipline within the next two to three years.
Meridian is one of only two school districts in Mississippi to have a Health Small Learning Community. The other district is in Rankin County.