January 24. 2014 10:46PM

John Stark students get close look at forensics

Union Leader Correspondent

Dr. Thomas Andrew, the state's chief medical examiner, visits John Stark Regional High School twice a year to lecture students about his work in the field of forensics. (COURTESY)

WEARE — Solving the puzzle of a person's last days on earth is the science behind forensics, and a class offered at John Stark Regional High School is leading students to further their studies in the field.

"The human body is so intricate and so amazing," said Molly Holmes, 18, a senior at John Stark who plans on majoring in forensics when she graduates this spring. "I watched the show called "Dr. G: Medical Examiner" and decided I wanted to be just like her."

For nearly 10 years, Heather Brady has been teaching the two forensics classes at the high school, which serves students from Weare and Henniker. The first class covers the basics of forensics, and Holmes said there was a lot of information packed into each day of the half-year class.

"We learned about the history of forensic serology, which is the study of blood, and learned how to dust for fingerprints. That was really fun," Holmes said. "I've always liked solving puzzles. It's cool, and I don't mind the dead body stuff."

The second class gets into more detail about forensics and explores areas such as forensic anthropology and toxicology.

"But what really made me excited was when the medical examiner came to school and talked to us about all the things that go into his job," said Holmes. "I was thinking about majoring in forensics, but that really solidified it for me."

Twice a year, Dr. Thomas Andrew, the state's chief medical examiner, visits John Stark Regional High School and lectures students about his work in the field.

"We are so fortunate to have the leading expert in New Hampshire lecture to our classes," said Brady. "The students typically find him to be a great blend — he's informative, interesting and funny."

Megan Laramee, 19, also had an opportunity to meet Andrews. After being exposed to the science of forensics, she decided to continue her studies at the University of New Haven in Connecticut.

"I've always been strong in science and math, and when I watched the show "CSI" and took the forensics classes in high school, I knew this is definitely what I wanted to do in my future," said Laramee. "I loved the hands-on work that Mrs. Brady let us do, and I loved being in the lab."

Although she's just about to begin her second semester as a sophomore and is focused on core courses right now, Laramee said the head of the Forensics Department at the University of New Haven comes and talks to students in the program regularly.

"Just hearing what he has to say makes me more interested in the field," she said.

Holmes may be following in Laramee's footsteps. She's already been accepted into the forensics program at the University of New Haven, her top choice school.

Brady said she loves the hands-on nature of the forensics classes she teaches, but really knows she's done her job well when her kids come to school disappointed.

"I know that I have been successful with my students when they come in and complain that I have ruined the TV show "CSI" for them; they can no longer just watch it because they find themselves analyzing the evidence and character's choices," said Brady. "They're using the critical thinking skills they learned in class."