Lansing Elementary 2nd-grader fills role as school’s ‘fish sitter’
Ever wonder who keeps Lansing Elementary School's fish tank in tip-top shape?
Meet second-grader Emma Bresser, official "fish sitter" for the 2006-'07 school year.
Before she joins her classmates for afternoon recess, Emma stops by the tank near the front office every day and feeds the seven fish that call LES home.
Emma and her family answered first-grade teacher Nancy Collard's call in the spring, when Collard was looking for a family to watch the fish during the summer.
"I was the first person to call," said Emma's mom, Devon Bresser. "The kids had been begging for a pet, and I thought if we had fish for the summer, that might help."
Before the Bressers could take the aquarium home for the summer, they received lessons from last year's fish sitters, Ivana Lopez and her mother, Mabel Lopez.
Now a third-grader, Ivana was Collard's first recruit. Ivana cared for the fish during the 2005-'06 school year.
"I was excited, because I had had fish before," Ivana said. "I like taking care of fish. I like watching them when they swim."
Ivana also likes naming her finned friends, including Splotchy, Spot and Speedy.
The Bressers took the reins in May, and the fish moved to their summer home on Hillcrest Street.
The move proved difficult on the fish family.
There were several funerals, Devon explained.
"But we found some fish that seem to be working well in the tank. We got an algae eater and some others, and we don't have to clean out the tank anymore, so I think we found the right combination," Devon said.
A cherry bar, damsels and scissor tails also grace the tank.
In August, the aquarium returned to its spot by the front office at LES, where dozens of children stop by daily and say hello.
Leavenworth resident Linda Prather donated the tank to LES this past year.
Collard and the caretakers then referred to library books to learn more about caring for the delicate ecosystem.
In addition to a learning experience, the fish have brought enjoyment to the school, she said.
"When children are waiting to go home, or in the morning when they come in, they stop off and look at the fish," Collard said. "They certainly care about them, you can tell that."
Nurse Lynne Pippin said fish-watching also can be therapeutic.
"I know teachers have used them as a way to calm down upset students," she said.
The project, of course, also teaches responsibility.
Nowadays, Emma has this fish-sitting business down to a science.
She adds water to the aquarium as needed, but the algae eater does most of the work, said fourth-grader Jack Bresser, Emma's older brother.
"It's good to have an algae eater, because you don't have to take a scrubber and scrub the sides," Jack said, adding that the fish eventually would outgrow the tank just like Mr. Big - a goldfish and former tenant.
On Fridays, Emma sees that her fish have plenty of nourishment for the weekend.
"I have to stick a white shell in there, and it lasts two days," she said. "I like doing it."
For Ivana, the best part of her duties came at the onset when she and her mother decorated the aquarium with colorful rocks, plastic flora and a seascape poster.
"We thought the fish would be more happy with their new surroundings," Ivana said.
Mom Mabel jokingly added: "We changed the furniture."