Meet the class pets

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Meet the class pets

Photo by: Francisco Casteneda

Photo by: Francisco Casteneda

Photo by: Francisco Casteneda

Story by Ashlan Brooks, Assistant Online Co-Editor

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Here’s an introduction to some of the lesser-known members of the PHS community: class pets. In the corner of Stewart Perez’s classroom sits a medium-sized tank, home to his female Eastern Box Turtle, Baby Dinosaur. A few doors down the hall, Mary Packard’s Dwarf Painted turtle, Roger, has found his home as well. 

Baby Dinosaur is about six years old and has been with Perez her whole life.

“A student gave her to me,” Perez said. “They watched her hatch out of an egg in their yard and brought her to me the next day.”

They watched her hatch out of an egg in their yard and brought her to me the next day.”

— Stewart Perez

Perez also mentions that Baby Dinosaur has a special personality.

“She’s almost like a dog, in a way,” Perez said. “When she’s hungry, she lets you know and she’ll even let you scratch her head.”

Packard’s turtle, Roger, has been in the classroom for over 12 years and has made a reputation as a former turtle racing champion. 

“We put him on the floor with some other turtles and he would always win,” Packard said. “He’s really, really fast.”

Like Baby Dinosaur, Roger was found outside and brought to Packard by a former student, who also happened to be the one that gave Roger his name.

“When I got him he was smaller than a quarter,” Packard said. “He was really, really tiny.”

Both teachers can agree that having a class pet has a large impact on their class.

“She creates a big distraction,” Perez said, with a laugh. “People want to pay attention to the turtle instead of listening sometimes. But people also ask questions about it want to feed her and that’s fine.”

For Packard, Roger has a positive effect on her classroom.

“It’s nice to watch him,” Packard said. “We’ll feed him and clean his cage as a class activity. Students can scrub the algae off of him with a brush.”

During the summer and periods of construction, Roger spends his time at Packard’s house while Perez comes by every morning to feed Baby Dinosaur and maintain her cage. Both turtles are well cared for and have become a staple of their classroom. 

“It gives people a connection to a pet that might not have a pet at home,” Perez said. “Having a pet gives [the classroom] a little bit of a homey feeling.”

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