Students learn about serving the community

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Creek View Elementary School kindergartener Hadley Paganelli listened intently as she put the stethoscope into her ears while local veterinarians Amber Ellison and Dakota Keith held the other end to Edward the yellow lab’s chest.

“Can you hear his heartbeat?” Ellison asked, drawing nods from the CVES student.

“Edward is being a good patient, isn’t he?” Ellison added, again drawing nods from Paganelli.

The scene repeated itself several times as the school’s kindergarteners got a chance to learn about the basics of veterinary care and animal safety from Ellison and Keith, both of who are employees at Countryside Animal Hospital in Montevallo, during the school’s Community Helper Day on Oct. 7.

During their presentation, the two veterinarians explained how children should approach dogs, told the kids about the importance of never pulling a dog’s ears or tail and told them to always tell an adult if they see two dogs fighting.

The vets also explained the importance of regular medical care for their pets.

“We want to be good friends to our dogs and cats and take them in for checkups each year,” Ellison said.

The veterinarian’s office was one of several local companies and organizations represented at Community Helper Day, which was focused on giving children a look at the men and women who provide important services in the community.

“We have been learning about community helpers in the classroom, so being able to hear from actual community members is so helpful,” said CVES kindergarten teacher Ashley Williamson, who worked to organize the day. “Having that face-to-face interaction is so much more helpful than just reading about it in a book.”

The day featured the vet’s office, a dental hygienist, police officers and firefighters.

With one of its ladder trucks stationed in the school’s parking lot, the Alabaster Fire Department was one of the most popular stops for the kids.

AFD firefighter/paramedic Jorel Barrett gave the kids an overview of the truck, including its plethora of equipment, and explained the duties firefighters complete during their 24-hour shifts. Afterward, the students got a chance to climb into the truck to take a look around.

For the AFD, community outreach is an important part of familiarizing children with emergency responders, Barrett said.

“We don’t want it to be scary in any way. We want to teach them not to run away from firefighters if they’re ever in an emergency, because we are there to help,” Barrett said. “These kids are the future of our city, our county, our state and our nation, so it’s important for them to learn this at a young age.”