New teacher slithers into classroom with pets

Evan Gray, Online Editor & Business Manager

It’s a first for Utica High. Class pets are not only a fun addition to the classroom, but an educational learning experience, as well. A new teacher at Utica High this year, Kelly Kujat also brought in several scaley critters to help her students interact with science.

“Having these animals in class is not only very cool, but it benefits the student a lot,” principal Tom Lietz said. “Science class should be very hands on, and having these reptiles makes it hands on and draws in interest from the students.”

Kujat’s classroom pets are creating a lot of buzz in the school. She’s a biology teacher and she keeps several pets in her class, like a snake, a lizard, and more.

“Former students had the animals as pets and didn’t want them anymore, so I took them in and gave them a home,” Kujat said. “Students love having these pets in the classroom because they love learning about them, and love science and the outdoors.”

Fear of animals like this is very common, and that is the case for some students who have to walk into class every day and see these animals in their enclosures. The animals are kept in the enclosures for safety, and they are only unlocked and taken out if it is absolutely safe and there is no threat. Because there cannot be a threat posed, the snake is never taken out of its cage around students to make sure everyone is safe.

“I’m scared of snakes and animals like them,” junior Faith Sami said. “But seeing them in class is still cool. It makes it more enjoyable because I can look at them from a safe distance, and they’re in a case so I don’t have to worry about being attacked.”

Class pets may be a normal thing, but usually it is an animal like a hamster or goldfish. In this case, these class pet(s) could eat the “typical” class pets with ease.

“On the first day of class, the teacher took one of her pet turtles out of the cages and let it roam in the classroom,” junior Rima Maroki said. “The turtle pooped all over and it was really funny; I guess it was a pretty exciting start to the first day of school.”

The teacher’s prized pet is a ball python, also known as the royal python. This snake originates and usually resides in Africa and is a non venomous constrictor. It is a common pet, because it tends to run small compared to other pythons.

“Though she [Kujat] is a new teacher for me, she does a very good job,” sophomore Cassidy Eskew said. “We do an experiment every week in class and having all those cool animals makes it a lot more interactive.”