Positively swimming

Class pet turtle Max spreads happiness

Max+relaxes+happily+on+his+ramp+during+second+period+on+Tuesday%2C+Nov.+12.
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Positively swimming

Max relaxes happily on his ramp during second period on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Max relaxes happily on his ramp during second period on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Lizeth Godinez

Max relaxes happily on his ramp during second period on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Lizeth Godinez

Lizeth Godinez

Max relaxes happily on his ramp during second period on Tuesday, Nov. 12.

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For the past four weeks, students in English teacher Nicole Antoine’s class have been greeted with the red-eared slider turtle named Max each time they enter the classroom. After his original tank broke, the turtle spent time swimming in a small tub until his new one purchased by Antoine. Now he resides in an even more unfamiliar environment: a high school classroom.

“I heard one of my student’s parents were going to try and throw the turtle into a pond because they didn’t want it anymore,” Antoine said. “I decided on a whim to take it and [I made] it possible.”

I have random students I’ve never met before bringing crickets in throughout the day as they heard the turtle likes eating crickets.”

— English teacher Nicole Antoine

Max’ previous owner, sophomore Diana Maldonado, saw major obstacles with keeping the turtle. Including the danger of her dog getting to Max, she decided moving him to a classroom would be the best.

“[Max] used to never let people touch him [because] he’d always go into his [shell] out of fear,” Maldonado said. “Now he stays out when you touch him, something he’d never do with us. I think he’s happier here.”

The students in Antoine’s classroom enjoy having Max in class, but other students who are not in her class enjoy the turtle as well.

“[Max] seems to have quite a social media presence,” Antoine said. ”People throughout the school are learning about [Max], which means I have random students I’ve never met before bringing crickets in throughout the day as they heard the turtle likes eating crickets. I think it’s a hit.”

It makes the environment more positive [and] it’s made us happier.”

— sophomore Jennifer Vasquez said

While Max does not make a difference in classroom management, he creates a pleasant reaction for the students. Attitudes of the classes have changed for the better.

“I love having the turtle here because it’s such a great thing to have in the classroom,” sophomore Jennifer Vasquez said. “It makes the environment more positive [and] it’s made us happier. It just releases all our stress as we watch [Max].”

Despite having the tasks of making sure the water is clean in Max’s tank, keeping track of how much he’s fed and coming to school on the weekends to feed him, Antoine enjoys having the turtle in her class. Max resides in a quiet classroom surrounded by students who adore and take care of him, even if they are not in Antoine’s class.

“I think the positives outweigh the negatives [of having Max],” Antoine said. “The students really love the diversion of it and have enjoyed being involved [in taking care of him]. It’s been fun to see teenagers who are usually very excited of hardly anything actually being enthusiastic about a turtle.”