Poolville High School students wrangled hyper hounds as well as mischievous cats while elementary students read stories to them on an afternoon visit to the Weatherford Parker County Animal Shelter last week.

A team of three PHS students organized this project for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America to help three elementary students gain confidence in their reading. The project is based on the belief that struggling readers feel less threatened reading to an animal than to another person, family consumer science teacher Krissy Dickerson said.

“We were researching ideas and then I saw it online, and I thought it would be really beneficial for our elementary students, and I know most people love animals,” FCCLA Secretary and senior Miller Ousley said. “I just came up with this idea because there’s been research behind it that shows it benefits animals and children.”

FCCLA students at PHS are divided into teams and all have various projects that they will present at the regional competition in Waco later this week. Some of the other projects involve donating to the Center of Hope, spreading awareness about teen dating violence at the junior high school, an interior design project, fashion design and developing an application for tracking water consumption for athletes.

Teams have the opportunity to compete at state and nationals if they advance, Dickerson said. Students have been working on projects since the end of November.

FCCLA students worked with the animal shelter as well as Poolville ISD administration to arrange the project.

The project of partnering with elementary kids to strengthen their reading skills can benefit FCCLA students who want to pursue an education or counseling career, Dickerson said. It also builds on PISD’s mentor program between older and younger students.

The elementary participants for the project said they feel like the project helped them with their reading.

“What my favorite part was, we got to have fun with the high school people, we got to read and we got to play with dogs and some cats,” third grader Praizlee Ellis said.

FCCLA students said they hope the elementary kids learned that reading can be done in different and fun ways.

“You don’t just have to sit in a chair at home to read,” FCCLA Treasurer and senior Madison Megason said. “You can go out and play with dogs and still read to them.”

Dickerson is hoping the FCCLA program at Poolville grows.

“We’ve done a lot this year — we’ve been to the nursing home, we’ve been several places where we can hopefully get out there and help the community,” Dickerson said. “This is just another way that we feel like we can help the community and the kids in it.”

FCCLA President and senior Savanna Scott said FCCLA gives students chances for community service.

“It provides us with a lot of opportunities to just better ourselves by helping the community,” Scott said.

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