By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now
Although the Newton Police Department dog’s name is Bella, which means “beautiful,” students on Thursday afternoon at Sunset Elementary School might’ve thought her name meant “fascinating” by the way they “oohed” and “aahed” as they noticed her.
Bella and Newton Police Department K-9 Officer Tony Hawpe were at the school during its Good Behavior Assembly, which the school has every month. They also have guest speakers at the assembly every month.
Hawpe talked to the youngsters about not doing drugs and demonstrated how Bella is trained to sniff out places for drugs that Hawpe touches. Hawpe let Bella off her leash and then, as Bella used her tracking-beam-like vision, watched everywhere he touched, like on a door and walls, and then after he was done, she went to those places and sniffed.
“When she works, she sniffs with her nose instead of her eyes,” Hawpe told kids, adding Bella thinks she’ll get a toy, so she’ll do the work to get it.
“See her working really hard with her nose?” Hawpe asked the students.
He said the police department’s job is to get illegal drugs off the streets so no one is using them.
Bella came all the way from Belgium, he said, and she’s a Belgian Malinois. He said the department got her at the end of 2015, and she had 10 weeks of training. She’s also trained to lay down when she finds something, instead of digging at it because it might disturb what’s there.
Hawpe also said they were given Bella’s family tree and that she comes from a long line of police dogs in Europe.
“We use her a lot,” Hawpe said. “I’m on call 24 hours. If they need a dog, I come out.”
What they track is ground disturbance, Hawpe said, adding she’s also quite fast. A National Football League player can run 40 yards in four seconds, he said.
“Bella can run it in three,” Hawpe said.
At one point during the presentation, Bella was quite content to lie near Hawpe and chew on her toy.
“So, she’s just a baby when it comes to dogs, right?” Hawpe said.
In addition to having a speaker, the assembly also featured a check presentation from Angie Tatro, executive director of the Central Kansas Community Foundation in Newton, for $2,300 for heart monitors to be used at the school. The cost of the 28 heart monitors is about $7,200, said Sunset physical education teacher Mario Nava. With this donation, the school has all the money it needs to buy the monitors, and the pricing also includes licensing and software, Nava said.
“The heart-rate monitor is a web-based tracking and measurement system that uses a heart-rate monitor that students will wear during PE class to help them better understand their own health,” Nava said. “The students’ daily effort will be recorded, stored over time and used to analyze the effectiveness of the activities. The data can also be delivered to both teacher and student as soon as class ends. The software provided will allow the teacher to track and correlate physical activity to academic performance and classroom behavior, develop student portfolios from K-12, document Fitnessgram results and attendance, and e-mail daily heart-rate activity directly to students’ and parents’ smart phones. With the purchase of the heart-rate monitors, the district will own 28 individual wrist heart-rate monitors, a charging station, a classroom reader (transfer data device) and a three-year software license.”
The Good Behavior Assembly honors VIP students, who get to sit in the front row at the assembly. When kids get caught doing something good, they get “good behavior” tickets and their names put on construction paper flowers, which are posted throughout the school on walls. At the end of the month, students with the most tickets receive a “good-behavior” certificate and prize. One boy and one girl are chosen from each class.
The assembly opened with students singing and dancing to the school song, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” led by music teacher Eydie Fellows.