LA PLATA, Md. (Feb. 15, 2016)—It was like any other day.
Other than Keymar Green's youngest brother, Joshua-Jaydin being home from school sick, nothing was out of the ordinary.
"It started out like a regular day," Keymar, a Thomas Stone High School sophomore, said.
But 6-year-old Joshua-Jaydin, who has severe asthma, was still under the weather for the third day, so Monique Woods, the boys' mother, took him to the doctor. After landing in the ER for a few hours, Joshua-Jaydin returned home.
Woods, getting ready to run out to pick up the medications her youngest son needed, called on Keymar—who was napping—to keep an eye on Joshua-Jaydin who also was asleep. Then he woke up.
"He was hysterical," Woods said, adding that he wasn't aware of his surroundings and was having trouble breathing. Keymar woke up when he heard his uncle yelling. The house was frantic. Someone had called 911, Woods was attempting CPR. She knew how to do it, but in the moment she froze.
"I saw her with my brother," Keymar said. "She had tears in her eyes."
"He put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'Mom, I got this,'" Woods said.
Two weeks earlier he had come home from school excited, showing off a certificate saying that he was CPR certified. He took it in Angela Juergens-Connolly's health class at Stone. The certificate went up on the refrigerator. It's still there.
The teaching of cardiopulmonary resuscitation was mandated for high school students in 2014. Dubbed Breanna's Law, it went into effect at the start of the 2015-16 school year and is a graduation requirement.
Keymar's CPR training helped save his brother's life. Joshua-Jaydin is a vivacious first-grader who wants to be a policeman when he grows up. "His energy makes me feel old," said Keymar, 15.
Keymar isn't "Mrs. J.C.'s" only student who was put to the test. Jenesis Andrews-Kendale, also a Thomas Stone sophomore and a friend of Keymar's, was working on homework one evening when her mother, Rachelle Andrews-Mobley was checking on Jenesis's grandfather, Gerald Andrews, who lives with them.
The 69-yesar-old has dementia and would sometimes "play possum," Jenesis said. That evening he said he wasn't feeling well. Andrews-Mobley was going to leave him alone, let him take a nap. Jenesis, who had learned the warning signs for strokes thanks to a project she had just turned in for health class, knew something wasn't right. The left side of her grandfather's face was drooping, his speech was garbled. Jenesis asked her mother to call 911. Once at University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center, they learned Andrews did have a stroke and while there, had a second one.
"I'm ecstatic that health is one of those things that has not been taken out of schools," Andrews-Mobley said.
Juergens-Connolly's said she tries to stay current on health issues and has a "no heads down" rule in her classroom. But health is something that her students are genuinely interested in, she said. There are no daydreamers in her class. "This is stuff about them," she said.
"It relates more to me than some of my other classes," Keymar said.
"You have to take that stuff seriously," Jenesis said. "Because it really could help."
"It makes me feel good that they pay attention," said Juergens-Connolly who has been with the school system since 1999. "They're the ones who are putting it into practice. I'm just teaching what I'm supposed to."
"Jen took it seriously," Andrews-Mobley said. "She learned something and was able to apply it to help our family."