A Grade 5 class at Coquihalla Elementary School have a different kind of class pet, a rescue bear. After a recent class vote, the young bear has been named S’more and students are eagerly awaiting more information about him once he emerges from hibernation. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

B.C. elementary students adopt a bear, name him S’more

Orphaned black bear teaching Hope Grade 5 students valuable wildlife facts

He could have been Pingu, Yogi, Blackberry or Bob, but the Grade 5 class at Coquihalla Elementary School in Hope decided S’more was a better fit for the name of their newly adopted 35-kilogram rescued black bear.

S’more is a more unorthodox choice of pet for grade school classrooms, which usually house hamsters, guinea pigs, or if the teacher is adventurous, a snake or iguana. And if it wasn’t for Grade 5 teacher Danny Froese and enterprising parent Catherine Friemark, the black bear may never have become the classroom favourite he now is.

Around Christmas, Catherine Freimark and her daughter Violette were thinking of what to get Froese. Not wanting to clutter his cupboards with another ‘best teacher in the world’ mug, the family decided on something different.

“She remembers me saying that I wanted a class pet, but I didn’t want all the work,” Froese said.

The idea of adopting a wild animal came from the family’s visit to Wolf Haven, a wolf sanctuary in Washington State, where Freimark spotted a classroom adoption kit. She decided to contact Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers, where S’more is currently hibernating, to ask about doing the same for a bear.

The shelter takes in injured and orphaned wildlife including owls, otters and wolves, with a goal of returning them to the wild. It is a small operation, run by five people, and co-founder and manager Angelika Langen said the classroom adoption is the first one the shelter has done.

Caught by a conservation officer in Quesnel together with his sister in October 2017 after his mother was hit by a car, S’more arrived at Northern Lights and was put into hibernation a few weeks later. Despite not having a lot of information about S’more, more will follow once he wakes up, hands flew up around the classroom when asked what they had learned so far.

“They can be found in Canada, Northern Mexico and the United States of America. They can live up to 20 years old in the wild. Cubs are born in January and February,” Keira Brunn presented.

Jade Wood said she didn’t know bears ate apples, in fact apples are S’more’s favourite food.Kastor Hansen said he learned bears can weigh up to 450 pounds.

“I didn’t know they were actually such good climbers,” said Violette Freimark. “They can climb up to half a tree, that’s an adult bear. Baby bears can climb three-quarters.”

The class then continued to share their bear stories, with one student telling the story of a black bear he saw in his yard the night before.

The students have integrated S’more into their curriculum with a creative writing assignment, imagining what S’more’s life will be like once he awakes.

“A couple of them got creative, a little silly, a couple of them were a little more realistic,” Froese said. Once again, hands flew up when Froese asked his class to present their stories.

There are also plans for bear art once S’more awakes.

The students live in a place which black bears frequent, so the knowledge they gain through S’more can be life-saving for other bears.

“It’s a great chance to educate. People that have a personal investment, it’s their bear, they named it…it gives a great opportunity to educate kids about bears and what they are and how they behave,” Langen said. “It might take some of the fears and myths away too.”

These fears humans have, who come in contact with bears, may lead to conflict situations and to bears being put down.

“To have a bear is usually a scary thing. But when you actually have a bear cub it’s interesting,” said Gretel Sims. “You get to see videos or photos, it’s really neat.”

Langen said education, in particular educating young people, is always a welcome opportunity at Northern Wildlife.

“The young people are really, really important because that’s the generation that has to take over when we can’t do it anymore,” she said.

There are also intangible things Freimark hopes students learn.

“It really brought forward to the kids, I think, the idea of giving back to the community and that a pet doesn’t have to be something that you pick up in a pet store,” she said.


Is there more to this story?


emelie.peacock@hopestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

The Grade 5 class have integrated S’more into their curriculum with a creative writing assignment, imagining what S’more’s life will be like once he awakes. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

Just Posted

Province’s $6.5M will help women escape violence, Public Safety Minister announces in Surrey

Mike Farnworth made the funding announcement in Newton Friday morning

Stage 1 watering restrictions to kick in two weeks early

As of May 1, Metro Vancouver residents can only water lawns two days a week instead of three

Surrey Knights hockey team owners seek $250,000 for alleged discrimination

Claims have not been proven before BC Human Rights Tribunal

POLL: What’s your favourite Vaisakhi treat, Surrey?

Food plays huge part in Newton’s massive annual celebration

South Surrey relay runners compete for good cause at Great Peninsula Race

Third annual event held Thursday afternoon at South Surrey Athletic Park

VAISAKHI: A Surrey piper’s musical harmony

Music director for Crossroads United Church in North Delta plays flute for Indian Standard Time

Unions set for national strike against CP Rail

Locomotive engineers, conductors and signals specialists seeking new collective agreements.

B.C. woman known to hitchhike around province missing

Aislynn Hanson, 18, last seen April 13; known to travel throughout B.C. by hitchhiking

B.C. court relies on Facebook to track down missing defendant

A court in Princeton, B.C. relied on Facebook to track down a B.C. missing his court date

Cops corral pig on the loose

Police “put the grab” on pig before it can cross the highway on Vancouver Island

Accused in B.C. school stabbing found unfit to stand trial

Decision will put hold on upcoming trial for Gabriel Klein

Producer, DJ Avicii found dead at 28

Swedish-born artist Tim Bergling, was found in Muscat, Oman

Updated: Cars lined up around the block as gas hits 109.9 in B.C. city

The gas wars continue in Vernon, B.C. with prices as low as $109.9 in North Okanagan

Trudeau ends 3-country tour with global reputation, alliances intact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finds footing on the world stage after China and India controversies

Most Read