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PALM LATITUDES

SCHOOL DAYS : Class Cut-Ups

June 13, 1993|Douglas McClellan

The first thing Christina Shin ever dissected was a frog. It was disgusting. "It was all slimy. When I cut it, all this juice would squeeze out," she says.

That was in eighth grade. Later came a fetal pig (too cute), a mink (too oily) and a cat (too much like a pet).

But last fall, at the start of her senior year at Westlake High School in Thousand Oaks, Christina discovered the real meaning of gross anatomy. She found herself standing, scalpel in hand, over the body of . . . a human.

"It was scary. We couldn't decide who was going to do the first cut," she says.

Every day after lunch, Christina and 14 other students meet in their advanced anatomy class, one of very few that actually cuts into cadavers. They've learned the major muscles and later will examine the internal organs, nerves, veins and arteries. In February, they removed the brains.

The 10 girls and five boys are all aiming for medical school, and college recruiters seem to like students who can wield a scalpel. "They really take notice when you start talking about the cadavers," says Jennifer Dunn.

Christina says the anatomical knowledge has already come in handy. When her father was carving the Thanksgiving turkey, "I said, 'Oh Dad, you're cutting the pectoralis major.' "

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