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Welcome to the jungle

Dive into some wild NHS environments

Sammy Snyder, Photo Editor

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After taking a test, students may do one of three things. One, magnetize their head to their desk and catch up on all the sleep they missed studying for the test. Two, sit in shame. Three, rush to finish homework that is due next block that they were supposed to finish last night, but put aside to study for that test. However, in some biology classrooms at Noblesville High School, students may choose a fourth option — play with the class pet.

Biology teachers Megan Obremski and Jessica Sturgill are all too familiar with the fourth option. For years, they’ve provided their students with the opportunity to learn alongside some of Earth’s most captivating creatures. Here’s a glimpse into the jungle.

Betty the Ball Python and Cora the Corn Snake

Ages: 28 years old and 5 years old, respectively

Is there a story behind their names? If so, what is it?

“I like to pick sweet old lady names for the creepy pets [like Betty]. Cora is short for corazon because she has a perfect heart on her head.”

What are your favorite personality traits of each of your snakes?

“I like how chill Betty is, she is fine with just about anything. I like how curious Cora is. She loves to explore.”

What is your favorite thing about having a class pet?

“Pets make people happy. They do that for me and my kids.”

Do you have any funny or crazy stories involving your class pet? If so, please share.

“There are a few faculty here that do not like my snakes… I have accidentally surprised some of them when I was holding the snakes in the hall. A few faculty have gotten over their initial fears and are now comfortable coming near and even petting the snakes.”

Sally the Asian Forest Scorpion

Age: 1 year old

Is there a story behind her name? If so, what is it?

“I like to pick sweet old lady names for the creepy pets [like Sally].”

In your opinion, what are the benefits of having class pets? What are the challenges?

“It is challenging to provide for them… the care and buying supplies. It can also be challenging to balance monitoring them when they are out [and] teaching proper handling and care, while still keeping on track with class activities and learning.”

Watson and Crick the Albino Leopard Geckos

Age: 13 years old

Is there a story behind their names? If so, what is it?

“Watson and Crick are named after the guys who discovered the structure of DNA – I decided to name them this not to honor them, but because students always forget the scientists’ names, but not pets names, so it helps my students remember class content that was hard to remember before.”

What are your favorite personality traits of each of your geckos?

“I like Watson because he is so friendly and loves to be pet and cuddled.  Crick likes to lick you (like a dog) which is cute.”

Why did you want class pets in the first place?

“I love having pets myself, and I love sharing them with my students.  I especially like to have pets that are ‘scary’ or make people nervous, so I can show them how neat they really are – and maybe even sweet and adorable.”

Kathy the Piranha

Age: 2 years old

Is there a story behind her name? If so, what is it?

“Kathy is named after my mom – not because my mom is vicious like a piranha, but because she really wanted my class pet to be named after her, so she said she would buy it for me if I named her Kathy.”

What are your favorite personality traits that Kathy has?

“Kathy is a big chicken when it comes to people, but if her lights are off she’ll swim around in the openness of her tank. My favorite thing to do is watch her eat the goldfish because it’s pretty cool.”

Why did you get a class pet in the first place?

“I’m a science teacher and it kind of goes with the territory. My husband doesn’t like lizards or snakes, so a piranha was a cool thing for my students to be able to have and something I don’t have to take home to my husband [during the] summers.”

Do you have any funny/crazy stories involving Kathy

? If so, please share.

“All of my students always ask ‘What will happen if I stick my hand in the tank?’ So every block on the first days of school I stick my hand in the tank to show them that Kathy is just a chicken and nothing will happen.”

In your opinion, what are the benefits of having class pets? What are the challenges?

“Students get to see an animal they usually wouldn’t get to see. It opens their eyes to the circle of life also when they realize the feeder fish tank is slowly decreasing in fish numbers. When she was smaller, the challenges were having to cut fish small enough for her to be able to eat because she was the size of most feeder fish. I have it pretty easy with Kathy.”

What is your favorite thing about having a class pet?

“The student’s responses to it. They love hearing that it’s a piranha and are always wanting me to feed it in front of them. I always have people up by her tank before and after class.”

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