The fourth graders at The O’Neal School gathered to celebrate all they had learned during their Pet Responsibility Program. They were joined by a very special guest speaker, Suzy Lutz from the organization, Continuing the Mission, and service dog “in training” Maya. Continuing the Mission pairs military veterans in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with specially trained service dogs. Maya is a young, energetic Labrador Retriever who loves to learn. The students thoroughly enjoyed watching Maya demonstrate her skills. Suzy explained to the students that they were helping Maya learn how to focus on her and not them during her demonstration. Towards the end of Suzy’s presentation, she surprised the students by announcing a service project for O’Neal students. She informed them that they were going to be a part of helping to support her two new puppies, coming in January, by purchasing supplies that they will need. The students were excited to learn that Suzy also plans to bring the puppies to school on occasion to share their progress. Fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Copeland, is very passionate about this service project. She plans to make this a long term commitment for the students by having them write letters of encouragement to the service members who will be receiving the puppies once they’ve completed their training.
The assembly also celebrated the wonderful stories submitted for the Speuter Story Contest. There were some wonderful entries and it was hard to choose two winners. Everyone proved their commitment to make a difference by taking time to write on behalf of those who have no voice. Lauren and Taylor were announced as the winners. Lauren will have her new puppy, Marley, spayed. Taylor would love a kitten but is respecting his father’s wish that now is not the time. Taylor wrote and laminated an eight page story, with illustrations! He said he laminated his so it would stand out from the others. PRC volunteer, Christie, thanked him for spending so much time on it. Apparently, he even gave up some recess time to work on it. Taylor’s award will be given to a pet in need. The winners had photos taken with PRC mascot, Speuter. Congratulations to all The O’Neal School fourth graders! We welcome you to the team that makes life better for all pets!