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Tag: high school

Service dogs help make a special prom night

promnight

Prom night wasn’t on the agenda for seniors Delaney Johnson and Nick Ackerman.

The two teens, both with disabilities, go to different high schools and hadn’t even met until their service dogs — in a way — brought them together.

Nick, who has a service dog named Troy, was interviewing Delaney, who has a service dog named Griffin, for a school video project on service dogs.

Making small talk, she asked him, “Are you all geared for prom?” When he told her he had no plans to go to his, she volunteered to go with him. He accepted.

With their service dogs along, they attended his school’s prom, then hers.

A Lansing State Journal columnist and photographer went along — and you can find their story and video here.

Delaney, 17, goes to Haslett High School, where, before she got her 2-year-old Dutch shepherd Griffin, she would faint or pass out up to 20 times a day due to narcolepsy.

Between medication and help from Griffin, that condition — and a second neurological condition called cataplexy — have been brought under control.

Her dog acts to distract her if she’s experiencing anxiety and, in case of an attack, he’s trained to stay with her, lying on top of her if she becomes incapacitated so that she feels protected.

“Since I got Griffin, I’ve not had any major cataplexy attacks at all,” said Johnson, a singer and songwriter who plans to take Griffin with her this fall to attend Grand Valley State University. “…He’s my own personal little bodyguard.”

prom3Nick attends Forest Hills Central High School in Grand Rapids, where he’s a champion debater. His service dog Troy helps Nick, who was born without arms, do everything from carrying things to zipping up his coat.

Nick, who plans to attend Eastern Michigan University in the fall, met Delaney two weeks ago, when he interviewed her for a class project on service dogs and the subject of proms came up.

On May 2, they went to his prom. Last Saturday, they went to hers.

The columnist and photographer accompanied the foursome — from home, where they posed for family photos, to a sushi dinner and then to the prom itself.

“I was going to stay home and eat ice cream and watch movies,” Delaney said later. “I’m just so glad I went…It was an amazing time.”

(Photos by Matthew Dae Smith / Lansing State Journal)

Hallelujah Monks

Here’s the next video in our Christmas countdown — an imaginative performance by a silent high school choir of “monks.”

There’s more than one way to skin a frog

frog dissection

Holy Formaldehyde! Times are changing. As of this fall, thousands of Catholic school students in the Philadelphia area can opt out of that once mandatory, highly stinky rite of passage — dissecting a frog in biology class.

The  Archdiocese of Philadelphia has established a policy under which students in its 20 high schools who have concerns about traditional animal dissection are allowed to use alternatives to frogs, cats and other actual animals.

As an increasing number of high schools and universities are realizing, there are plenty of options to cutting up an animal, and students can learn just as much about biology through models and computer graphics.

“As the 21st century evolves, greater use of virtual dissection experiences will be encouraged and eventually replace the use of scientifically preserved animals,” said Mary E. Rochford, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. “With the availability of virtual lab experiences and other Internet instructional tools, students can arrive at the same learning.”

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s policy is modeled after the Pennsylvania Students Rights Option, a law established in 1992, which enables public and non-public students from grades K-12 who do not want to harm animals as part of their coursework to use an alternative instead.

You can learn more about the Pennsylvania law here.

“The Archdiocese’s student choice policy can serve as a model for other schools in the state of Pennsylvania, in addition to other dioceses across the U.S,” said Laura Ducceschi, Director of Animalearn, a project of the American Anti-Vivisection Society.

Tens of thousands of cats, frogs, and other animals are killed annually, specifically for dissection and other educational purposes, despite available alternatives and studies showing that students learn as well or better by using virtual dissection and other humane alternatives, according to Animalearn.

Animalearn’s website offers a searchable database of over 450 alternatives to dissection, downloadable software, and other humane science tools. A free resource to students and teachers nationwide, The Science Bank offers interactive models, videos, and virtual dissection CD-ROMs and DVDs.

Vick addresses students in Philadelphia

Michael Vick spoke to a group of Philadelphia high school students Tuesday, warning them against the dangers of peer pressure and urging them to make the right choices and resist the temptation to follow the crowd.

The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback addressed 200 freshmen on their first day at Nueva Esperanza Academy, a North Philadelphia charter school.

“I didn’t choose to go the right way, which led to 18 months in prison, which was the toughest time of my life,” he said. “Being away from my family, being away from my kids who I adore dearly, and being away from the game of football, doing something so foolish, and I wish I could take it all back.

“I was influenced by so many people when I should have been a leader, not a follower.”

The 10-minute talk marked Vick’s first anti-dogfighting public appearance in Philadelphia since he signed a one-year, $1.6 million deal with the Eagles on Aug. 13, the Associated Press reported.

“My future was promising … at some point, I got sidetracked. I started listening to my friends and doing some things that were not ethical and not right.”

Vick visited the school with Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Pacelle met with Vick in prison at the quarterback’s request and agreed to allow him help in the organization’s anti-dogfighting campaign.

Once the highest paid player in the NFL, Vick was suspended from the league following his conviction in August 2007 on charges of conspiracy and organizing the dogfighting ring. He was released from federal custody in July and was signed by the Eagles in August.

Vick is suspended for the first two games of the regular season and is eligible to play beginning Sept. 27.

Dogs to hit cars in Chicago

2008_12_02_sticker04.jpg

The city of Chicago will be honoring its dogs and touting its dog-friendliness in 2009, when mandatory city vehicle stickers will sport this image — chosen from submissions by high school students.

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