Thu, Feb. 20

Goat Club project to fund school statue at St. Joseph's Montessori

Students at St. Joseph Catholic Montessori School in Bridgeport are raising some goats to show at the Verde Valley Fair in May. They intend to sell their goats at auction and use the money to buy a statue of St. Joseph to place in front of their school at 2715 E. Hwy. 89A.

Elaine Anderson, teacher, said four students are raising and training four goats for credit. "It's part of their curriculum," she said. "Agriculture and gardening are essential to a Montessori experience."

Anderson said the project teaches responsibility.

Fourth-grader Tristin Green said they have to walk the goats, feed them three times a day and practice with them to get ready for the show ring at the fair. "We have to check their water at the end of the day and make sure there isn't anything that might them," he said.

Teaching this kind of responsibility will make the kids better adults, Anderson said. "This part of our culture is being lost over time," she said.

The kids also must trim the goats' hooves, shampoo them and cut their hair.

But it isn't all work and responsibility. "It's fun because I get to take care of my goat and feed it," said Trent Stark, fourth grade.

Francesca Settanni, a fifth-grade student, said their goats are Nubian. She said three will be sold at auction and one will go to dairy.

The kids all have a good understanding of what it means to raise livestock. "It's not so bad," said Shannon Knowles, a fifth-grader, "because people might use it for food or a pet for their kids."

Most of the students attended a four-hour program in food safety, a requirement for anyone raising animals for market. Anderson said the students learned about food safety, processing and what makes a good goat.

Other students at the school raise rabbits and chickens. "Last year our rabbit won best of show," Anderson said.

The kids not only are raising their goats for money-- Samantha, Flicka, George and Shy -- but also have the opportunity to win ribbons and trophies at the fair.

Anderson brought the goats to the school from her farm in Cornville. "This environment just lends itself to animal projects," she said of the St. Joseph's campus.

St. Joseph's Montessori opened for the 2005/06 school year with one classroom, one teacher and five grades. This year, the school has 54 students in three classrooms with three teachers.

Anderson said academics at the school are doing great. "All of my kindergarten students are reading at a second-grade level at a minimum," she said.

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