by James Coulter
Janie Howard Wilson Elementary School accepts everyone as a student regardless of who they are. The only major exception are alligators.
A baby gator snuck into Janie Howard Wilson Elementary School last Thursday, but was promptly and safely expelled by school staff.
The school was hosting a food drive, an event they host once a month to collect donations to help feed the local community.
However, while the school staff was busy loading and unloading food donations, they encountered an unexpected visitor who happened to enter the school. That visitor had scaly skin and a row of sharp teeth!
“We had one of our classroom doors open as we were getting the boxes of food out to load onto the bus ramp,” explained Principal Kim Griffith. “And when the teachers were coming in to get more food, they noticed our friend there.”
Fortunately, the alligator was a small baby that did not hurt anyone. Teachers William Milton and Amanda Bender used a broom to guide the baby gator out of the school and back outside.
Janie Howard Wilson Elementary School is located near a protected wilderness area, which is home to various creatures including turkeys, possums, and raccoons. Many of these creatures have been seen wandering the school grounds.
“Apparently, alligators can climb fences,” Griffith said. “I did not know that. And so we are certainly more aware of that.”
The protected wilderness area is regularly checked by Florida Fish and Wildlife. Early spring is when most baby alligators hatch and start wandering away from their parents.
Principal Griffith assures students and their families that the school is safe and that the staff will take further precautions to prevent a similar situation from occurring again.
“I think it is to be aware that as we have more homes in the community,” she said. “That a lot of the habitat is missing from nature, and we want to make sure the students are aware and they do not approach the animals. It was a good learning experience for the staff as well.”