Classroom pet helps students regulate during class


Krissy Stout

Paola Valladares and Dante are new to MSHS this year.

Krissy Stout, Junior Reporter

When students came into Paola Valladares’s room for the first time this fall, they were greeted by a bunny, Dante. Dante is one of the only class pets at MSHS in years.  He lives in Valladares’s room, which started as a joke but then became helpful for students learning. 

Valladares has an Advisory, Study Hall, and teaches Spanish 2 and 3 classes at MSHS; but she has taught at other schools before. “I started having bunnies in the classroom eight or nine years ago,” Valladares said. “It started as kind of a joke at first, and then I started realizing that I had way less problems in my classroom when I had the bunny because if the students were stressed or anything like that, it was easier for them to calm down and just go to the ground and pet the bunny for a little bit.” 

When Valladares taught in Oklahoma, she had a group of girls that was very similar to an advisory. She would take them on service trips once a month instead of class.

“One of the times we went to a place where it was for single moms in Oklahoma, and they had many stations for the kids to be entertained and learn responsibility,” Valladares said. “One of the things they had was bunnies for the kids, and the kids had to take care of them.” 

Her students loved the way the bunnies felt and begged her to get one. “For weeks, they were begging me to get one, and it was kind of like a joke,” Valladares said. “I didn’t think I was going to get one. Then I got one for my house and brought him to class.  His name was Chancho. He never left the class.” 

All of Valladares’s Advisory students agree that Dante affects the class very positively. Sophomore Chad Moore visits Dante during Advisory. “He’s affected Dr. V’s Advisory positively,” Moore said. “It makes me want to come to school more because there’s a bunny at school. Who doesn’t want a bunny?” 

Moore likes to come in and hang out with Dante during other points of the day. “He just lightens the mood,” Moore said. “He’s a very good cuddle buddy. I always used to take naps during my study hall and he would dig at my back, and sometimes I’d bring blankets in and he would burrow into them.” 

Cordelia Portman (9) also loves to have Dante in the classroom and finds it motivating. “Just earlier today, I was doing my homework in Dr. V’s class, and Dante came up to me and he rubbed on my ankle, and I pet him and he just sat there and it was very sweet and it didn’t really distract me,” Portman said. 

Portman finds Dante to be a sweet aspect of the class and finds joy in the fact that Dante is always around when she is there. “I mean, I have Dr. V for Advisory so it’s not like a direct connection; but when I see him in the classroom, it makes me excited and it’s just  a nice thing to look at and know that there’s like a comforting thing in the room.”