Weather Forecast


Students test out interests in Exploratory Day

Forestview eighth-grader Teala Pierce nuzzles with a puppy from Pine Shadows dur

BAXTER — A new student in the classroom at Forestview Middle School caused quite the stir. That student came in the form of a 5-week old English Springer Spaniel named Sage ­— a puppy everyone wanted to pet.

The pup was there with a few other dogs as part of a puppy imprinting and bonding class, taught by Sophie Haglin, co-owner of Pine Shadows Kennels in Brainerd.

The out-of-the-ordinary class was part of Forestview Middle School’s eighth-grade Exploratory Day.

The special event brings in a handful of activities from which students may pick. Children selected their favorites from a list of 24 choices and were assigned three by staff.

The list included sessions in areas such as 3-D junk art, waterfowl hunting, nail care, visual welding simulation, snowshoeing, ice fishing, broom ball, photography, guitar, paper flower bouquets and on-stage impromptu acting.

Assistant Principal Tammy Dewey first brought the idea to staff last year in an effort to help spark an interest among students in new activities.

The first Exploratory Day was had in October 2013. Wednesday’s Exploratory Day was the second, with the next in April.

There’s an art to puppy imprinting and bonding. How a young puppy is handled can affect the dog’s ability to learn and be trained, Haglin said.

To best learn to practice, Haglin pulled out a basket of stuffed animal dogs.

Eager students gripped the soft play animals, mimicking Haglin’s movements.

First, when a puppy is born, you must make sure it is breathing. Using just the size of your hand, or about nine-14 ounces, rub the puppy from side to side.

If it still hasn’t taken a breath, a swift, soft swing should do the trick.

That moment when the puppy first takes a breath is “totally exciting,” Haglin said.

Haglin walked the students through giving an exam, the muscle and bone groups and rubbing the ears when the dog isn’t feeling well, just as many mothers do to their children.

All the while, Sage, as well as an 8-week old and 13-week old English Springer Spaniel watched on from their kennels. A mother dog roamed the room free, casually checking in on the youngsters.

Down the hall, it was all things dairy in the food and dairy taste test challenge class.

The eighth-graders whipped up their own batches of ice cream and butter, as well as weighed in on what was the best dairy product. Ice cream won by a landslide.

Next door, the craft of party planning was the topic, with volunteer Sharon Carlson showing a large group of teenage girls how to properly fold a napkin, decorate a cookie and throw together an elegant table centerpiece with what’s around the house.

“I want them to learn to be creative and to recognize skills they might not have known they have,” Carlson said.

By working together to construct the perfect Valentine’s Day centerpiece, the girls will learn team work and communication skills, she said.

Carlson made her rounds, admiring the designs and the decorated cookies.

“I’m going to call you girls the next time I have a party and you can decorate for me,” she said.

JESSICA LARSEN, staff writer, may be reached at or 855-5859. Follow me on Twitter at