Beaver Lake’s Buddy is back in class

September 19, 2008

By Chantelle Lusebrink

It took more than 150 parent signatures and a lot of effort, but Patrick Ford, an industrial science teacher at Beaver Lake Middle School, has his buddy back — and so do his students.

Buddy 2.0 made her first appearance at school Sept. 11.

“It went really smoothly,” said Josh Almy, the school’s principal. “When I walked into class yesterday, Thursday, the first day Patrick had gotten all the signatures, the kids were just so excited.”

Buddy was temporarily exiled from the school she spent 15 years in, due to a new no-animal policy, which was approved by Issaquah School District officials for the start of the school year.

The policy was adopted to protect each school’s educational environment and students with health allergies, different cultural views, fears of animals or other medical issues, according to district officials.

“It is just so nice, because we have to be one of the only schools that has a bulldog for its mascot and a real one wandering the halls,” said Caroline Brown, co-president of the PTSA for the school. “When you do a blanket ban like this, it is nice when you look at the exceptions.”

The change was quite unexpected for many students, staff and administrators when they returned to school from summer break, especially at Beaver Lake.

Buddy, the school’s mascot, has roamed the halls of the school since 1994, when it opened. The first Buddy reigned from 1994-2005, when he died. Buddy 2.0 picked up the duty in 2005.

The policy affects every district facility — 24 schools and five administrative facilities. It prohibits any animals from being on campus, not just dogs.

“I understand and support the district’s policy first and foremost,” Almy said. “The policy was written to keep kids safe, even though it does affect Beaver Lake and something that is near and dear to our hearts.”

The policy allows animals on campuses if:

  • They serve as an aid for an individual with special needs or accommodations.
  • They support classroom instruction for curriculum outlined by the district.
  • They support law enforcement or other emergency service activity.

Other exceptions can be made with clearance from district officials.

Pine Lake’s library would have been one of the school’s affected by the ban, but because Librarian Donna Bartholomew changed her policies regarding the two gerbils in the library, she was allowed to keep them.

“Our library is so student friendly, and one of the things that makes it so friendly is that it is high interest with those little guys running around in their cage,” Assistant Principal Michelle Caponigro said.

“It gets them into the library, which gets them to check out books and gets them reading,” she said, regarding students.

However, they are no longer able to handle, feed or clean the cage, she said.

To get Buddy 2.0 back, Ford had to send a permission slip to every parent in his class granting him permission to have her in his classroom. In asking, he had to identify Buddy 2.0’s usefulness to classroom curriculum and agree to accept any and all liability that stems from the dog being in class.

“There are policies in life that we have to follow and sometimes there is work to get it done, but it is definitely worth the work once it is done,” Almy said. “The neat part was to see how all the kids in his class really rallied around the cause for something that was really important to Patrick.”

To allow Buddy 2.0 to freely roam the school’s corridors again, the standard is even higher — getting every parent of every student in the school to sign a permission slip.

Ford and Buddy 2.0 were about 250 signatures short of that goal, according to district officials.

“I had to get 100 percent and I knew that I was never going to get that,” Ford said. “But I don’t think that 3 percent of the population should determine policy for 97 percent of the others.”

Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com.

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