Octorara reviews new state academic standards

The Octorara Area School District Board of Directors meets in the multi-purpose room of Octorara Junior High School, 228 Highland Road, Atglen. (Lancaster Newspapers file photo)

When: School board meeting, Sept. 9.

What happened: One of the items discussed for approval at the Sept. 16 meeting was an agreement with Susquehanna Service Dogs to acquire a facility dog for Octorara Elementary School.

Background: The district has looked at how dogs are being used in the Lampeter-Strasburg School District and would like to follow a similar model.

Why it’s important: District leaders think a service dog would help third and fourth graders in several ways. Dogs can provide reading support when students read to the dog. Dogs help calm children who have emotional needs and can greet them in the morning to reduce school avoidance.

Quotable: “It really changes the climate of the building,” Principal Brian Dikun said.

The cost: The initial cost of the dog is being covered by an anonymous donor. Other fundraising efforts are planned to cover costs.

What happens next: Fourth grade teacher Sally Welk will be the primary caregiver for the dog, which will live with her. She will be one of four handlers to take a four-week training course with the dog once an animal is selected for the job. The dog may be in the schools by late this year or early 2020.

Other happenings: Postcards have been mailed out to 187 families in the district with students in cyber or cybercharter schools, letting them know about Octorara’s virtual academy and the programs that are available through the district.