Sparkle Comforts Stressed MHS Students

E. Alper and K. Kovalik

Evelyn Alper and Katrina Kovalik

You may have seen a friendly looking yellow lab wandering around campus at brunch and lunch, but despite circulating rumors, Sparkle is neither guiding a new blind student around campus nor being used by the police to sniff out drugs.

Sparkle actually belongs to Jacque Chiavini, Miramonte’s Speech and Language Specialist. Every Monday, Sparkle comes to campus to comfort stressed out students and teachers with her wagging tail and puppy dog eyes.

In March, a school committee established to reduce stress among students and staff proposed the idea of using a therapy dog on campus.
After the administration and the district accepted the idea, Chiavini volunteered Sparkle.

Jon Parker, a Miramonte crisis counselor, makes frequent use of Sparkle’s soothing abilities to calm down anxious students by sending them to visit her in Chiavini’s office.

Chiavini said that even teachers will occasionally stop by to play around with Sparkle if they are having a tough day.

The students in Rosemary Black’s Learning Skills class are also particularly fond of Sparkle, who makes their classroom a regular stop on her Monday visits.

“She makes my day,” said Nicole Ganancial, a sophomore in Black’s class.

“Sparkle’s so nice and cute,” said Sofia Martinez, Ganancial’s freshman classmate.

Before Sparkle found her true calling as a therapy dog, she worked as a guide dog for the blind. However, the discovery of Sparkle’s allergies to cedar trees and dust mites forced her to retire early because her daily medications couldn’t be administered by an owner with sight impairment.

At two and a half years old, Sparkle has met huge success in her career change. Although Sparkle has only been coming to Miramonte for just over a month, students are already counting down the days until her next visit.