For at least a few minutes over the last couple of days, reading and math have taken a back seat to manatees for first grade students at Idlewild Elementary.
"I want the Manatee to get home safely," student Alicia Triplett said.
Teachers Peggy Owen saw her students were fascinated by the Manatee that surfaced in the Wolf River Harbor, and seized the opportunity to talk about current events.
"This was a great opportunity to connect what's going on in our world with what they read about in books," she said.
Students in Owen's class watched a TV show, read a book about manatees, and held classroom discussions, which included talking about the danger faced by the animal.
"There could be a motor boat in the river," said student Sam Barnes. "What would happen? The propeller would scrape it."
"Idlewild is an optional school for Science and Technology. The hope is these students will take what they've learned today and carry it with them as adults."
Owen said the curriculum at optional schools like Idlewild makes teaching current events, like the situation with the manatee, ideal. "It adds a little spice and interest to the curriculum and is very valuable to them," she said. "Hopefully we will have some conservationists born today."
Each student in Owen's class had different questions, and learned something new. All had the same hope.
"I want him to get back home, and hope he'll be ok," said student Janae Macklin.
It was concern students won't learn from a book.