Hockaday Students and Community Give Life


Brandi Finazzo’s anatomy classes completed the skeleton with 3D printed organs.

Advisory is a time of chatter, snacks and homework. However, this past Tuesday, advisory time looked very different for a group of seniors. In fact, q-tips in hand, they swallowed and swabbed the insides of their cheeks.

This simply motion of swabbing has the potential to save countless lives.

During the Give Life Event this past Tuesday, Upper School students as well as parents, faculty and staff from all divisions were invited to “Give Life” in three different ways. First, they could donate blood through Carter Blood Care. Second, they could join the marrow registry for Be the Match. And finally, they could sign up to be an organ donor.

Upper School Science Teacher Brandi Finazzo, who teaches Upper School anatomy, was one of the organizers of this event. Both semesters of the anatomy class participated in this event with the incorporation of their final project. She first began developing the idea for this project during the Fall of 2015.

“I had been really trying to think of a way to spice up the anatomy project,” Finazzo said. “I want my students to learn something, but I also want them to gain an appreciation for the body and how intricate it is and all its workings.”

Her idea came to her when she heard an advertisement on the radio regarding a Be the Match event.

“That would be a cool way to bring in technology,” Finazzo said. “[It’s] a cool way to bring the in the future of anatomy and physiology.”

The focus of this project was to understand the current transplantable organs and tissues. The three components include: research presented in their manner of choosing, such as GoogleDocs and web pages, a 3D printed representation and a one to two minute public service announcement.

The project received positive feedback from students. However, the anatomy classes this year had a slightly different project. Finazzo partnered with Academic Technology Specialist Candace Townsley this year and decided to host a Give Life Event.

“We’re hoping this is a way to raise awareness about a big problem,” Finazzo said. “[It’s] also a way to take what they learned in the classroom outside the walls of the classroom and get the girls involved in something bigger than just classroom research.”

The anatomy classes this year are working on a year long project that is split between two semesters. The students from the Fall students and Spring students picked organs and tissues and together they built a single body. This body is currently displayed in the Ownby Family Lobby.

“It’s one thing to learn about the fact that we have a huge donor registry deficit in the U.S., but it’s another to actually help improve it,” Finazzo said.

Finazzo is also the club sponsor for the Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) club. HOSA members also volunteered to help out at the event. Juniors Kaleigh Beacham and Tanvi Jakkampudi are co-presidents.

“We just look for different opportunities for our club members to pursuit an interest in medicine and possibly see if they want to pursue that as a career in the future, and this is just an opportunity that came up and we took it,” Beacham said.

In addition to the anatomy classes and HOSA, Community Engagement Representative Clifford Ackerman from Be the Match also played an integral part in the event. In 1998, Ackerman was diagnosed with Stage IV Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He did not respond to treatment after 2 years, so he needed a marrow transplant. Although his two sisters and twin all did not match with him, he was able to find one through Be the Match.  

“We provide help, hope and a cure to patients battling over 70 different blood diseases and blood cancers,” Ackerman said.

On Tuesday, Ackerman helped students and community members complete a test kit that is sent to a lab where the cells are profiled. If a person is a match for someone looking for a marrow transplant, Be the Match will contact that person.

Hockaday parent Lindsey Sberna was one of many in the community who partook in Tuesday’s activities.

“I chose to join Be the Match because I think it’s an easy way to possibly save someone’s life,” Sberna said.

Finazzo also sees the value in this event.

She said, “we‘re hoping that this little campaignit’s only three hours on a Tuesdaybut we are really hoping that we can make a real positive impact and at least raise the awareness within our community.”


Sonya Xu – News Editor