Fitch students invite therapy dogs to school

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.The group Pawz For People came to Austintown Fitch High School on Nov. 3. The organization trains, registers and certifies each of the dogs and handlers. All the handlers volunteer at the organization.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Austintown Fitch High School students went to the small gym between classes to pet the dogs. Some teachers brought down classes to the small gym, too. The students donated a dollar to the organization.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Seniors at Austintown Fitch High School brought in therapy dogs as a part of their service project. All senior students must do a service project, and one group has brought in therapy dogs the last three years. This year's group are, pictured from left, Erica DiFrancesco, Makaela Giannini, Brooke Bailey, Rachael DiFrancesco and Moriah Berni.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Pawz For People do a number of helpful events to help alleviate stress. For example, they go to the Cleveland Airport to calm the nerves of travelers. They also go to schools so struggling and shy readers can read to the dogs without any worries.

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Neighbors | Zack Shively.Senior English teacher Cindy McCutcheon oversaw the seniors' project at Austintown Fitch High School. She said the therapy dogs have a noticeable positive effect on the students throughout the day.

By ZACK SHIVELY

zshively@vindy.com

Several therapy dogs came through the Austintown Fitch gym on Nov. 3 as a part of a senior service project.

All seniors at Austintown Fitch High School must complete a service project. Five students, Rachael and Erica DiFrancesco, Moriah Berni, Brooke Bailey and Makaela Giannini, from Cindy McCutcheon’s English class continued the tradition of bringing in trained dogs to the school’s smaller gymnasium to alleviate student stress.

Pawz for People brought the trained dogs to the school. The organization registers and certifies each dog and handler. All members of the group volunteer their time to help the students.

The students had the opportunity to pet the dogs between classes to remove stress and help with anxiety. Some teachers allowed the students to go to the gym during class. McCutcheon says that the dogs have a noticeable effect on the students who participate in the event throughout the day.

The students donated a dollar to pet the dogs. All the donations went to Pawz for People.

Debbie Mozzy, a volunteer with Pawz for People, said that the organization goes to other places to help. Schools and libraries contact the group to help struggling or shy readers work on their literacy skills by reading to the dogs. They also have gone to the Cleveland airport to calm travelers nerves of flight.

This event marks the third year that a senior class group has invited therapy dogs to the school. Second-grade teacher Dana Patrick volunteers with the program and helped the students organize the event.

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