Members of the Whiteaker Middle School Pro Team get a tour of the Willamette Valley Humane Society after dropping off a donation Saturday, Jan. 30. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

Members of the Whiteaker Middle School Pro Team get a tour of the Willamette Valley Humane Society after dropping off a donation Saturday, Jan. 30. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

A group of Whiteaker Middle School students turned out early at the Willamette Valley Humane Society Saturday, Jan. 30 –  before the doors even opened.

The students were representing the Whiteaker Pro Team class, and had some gifts to deliver.

“The most surpising thing was the dog bed,” said seventh grader Chloe Shepherd. “It’s big enough that I can sleep in it.”

Over the past few months, students in the class collected donations from schoolmates and their families ranging from the dog bed to a scratching post to food, treats and toys.

“We basically had one thing from every aisle in the pet store,” said teacher Jamie Peters.

The class that brought in the most donations won a doughnut party, but the winning students decided to donate the money to WVHS instead.

“The hardest part was promoting it in the school,” said sixth grader Paris Boyd. “We made a bunch of posters and made lots of visits to classes.”

In addition to the donations, students in the Pro Team Class had a hand in making some of the gifts.

The students discovered reheatable rice packs were needed for animals rehabilitating from surgery.

“I made 18 of those and then went to The Dollar Store to buy more stuff to donate,” said seventh grader Madison Long.

The Wolverines also took over the culinary arts room after school one day and baked dog treats.

The Pro Team class was originally developed in South Carolina with the purpose of attracting more boys and minorities to the teaching field, but Whiteaker is taking the model and developing the course as a junior leadership class.

“For us, it’s become more about teaching them the skills and decision-making abilities to pursue whatever careers they want to pursue,” Peters said.

Part of the curriculum is participating in service learning projects like the WVHS donation drive, but it also takes other forms.

“I had the kids brainstorm some ideas at the beginning of the school year and they came up with this and a reading buddy program,” Peters said.

Every other week the Pro Team students walk down the street to Gubser Elementary School to read with kindergarteners.

Peters said the hope is for students taking the Pro Team class as seventh graders to continue on in the leadership classes as eighth graders.

The other student members of the Pro Team are: Michelle Gee, Caitlin Huffman, Reyna Terrazas, Nina Garland, Grace Melting, Trevor Thompson, Annie-Leigh Besa, Irani Chavez, Evan Downing, Sydney Gates, Andrew Goemaere, Sierra Lane, Sydney Morris, Kate Ronning, Toby Straw and Emerson Woomer.