A Prickly Pupil

Students in Mrs. Spak’s AP Biology class have gotten to know a rather unusual classmate.


Shuban Tiwari

Ash rests on a towel, feasting on his afternoon snack in Room 363.

Shuban Tiwari, Staff Writer

When AP Biology students walked into room 363 on the first day of school, they were greeted by quite an odd-looking classmate: a Bearded Dragon named Ash. The scaly, spiky, and lovable lizard is just the latest in a series of pets that AP Biology has called its own over the years.

My favorite days are the ones where we get to take him out of the cage and hang out with him. He is the whole class’s therapy lizard. ”

— Ava Eichelberger, NASH senior

“When I started teaching 20 years ago, we had lots of class pets, but then I had kids and the pets slowly disappeared,” Spak said. 

Some students have wondered where Spak got the lizard and whether was it bought or borrowed. It turns out that Ash is actually the pet of a third-grader at Franklin Elementary School. The student gave the lizard to Spak, allowing her to take care of it for the school year.  

Spak believes that having a pet improves the educational experience for her students.

“He is our therapy lizard when we are having a bad day. We look to Ash to brighten our day,” she said. 

Spak’s students will admit that it is refreshing to watch the lizard scurry around the tank to catch his prey as they fight through the dense content of AP Biology. 

“I love having Ash in the room,” Ava Eichelberger, a senior at NASH, said. “My favorite days are the ones when we get to take him out of the cage and hang out with him. He is the whole class’s therapy lizard.”

YouTube/Lizard Lovers

Ben Toomey, another senior at NASH, appreciates the engaging learning environment with Ash. 

“I think it’s cool to have him in class. It helps me to immerse myself in biology when I play with him,” Toomey noted. 

Of course, as is the case with all pets, there comes an added level of responsibility. 

“I have a lot of help from my students, who help to feed him, spray him, and even put him on the desks so that he gets an opportunity to exercise and socialize,” Spak said.

Spak added that she’s considering purchasing a harness for Ash (fun fact: Bearded Dragons enjoy taking walks on a leash), which may mean that a stroll down the third floor halls could be added to his daily routine.