Portales Junior High School youths get quick initiation into workaday world

By William P. Thompson

Most of the eighth-grade at Portales Junior High ventured out to local businesses and government agencies yesterday as part of the school’s annual job shadowing day. Some students watched beauticians at work. Some spent the day with firefighters. One student even went to jail, but only to see how corrections officers perform their tasks.

Ashley Stone chose to spend her day at Caprock Veterinary Clinic. By 11 a.m. she had already witnessed a bloody emergency surgery on a dog that had been mauled by a larger dog. She also witnessed the setting of a chihuahua’s broken leg. Her day began with a memorable canine encounter.

“In my first five minutes here, I got peed on by a puppy,” Stone said. “He was scared.”

Dr. John Meagher was Stone’s mentor for the day. He said her puppy incident must be some kind of initiation for her. He said Stone wasn’t quite ready to perform surgery yet.

“This day is a just a day for her to be exposed to the job,” he said.

Stone said she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up even though she was a little taken aback by the blood during emergency surgery she witnessed.

”It’s cool when you watch surgery,” she said. “For the first few minutes you forget to breathe.”

Stone got to see Meagher’s bedside manner as he calmed a tense chihuahua named Cookie.

“He talks to the animals in a baby voice and lets them know that everything is going to be okay,” she said. “He kept talking to the dog and you could tell the dog was relaxing. It wasn’t shaking anymore.”

Meagher said a calm voice works in soothing pets and their owners.

“The animals and the owners are excited when they come in,” he said. “You’ve got to calm the owners and their animals down.”

Stone said she’d like to be a traveling veterinarian for small and large animals in the Portales area.

“It’s something I want, and somehow I’m going to get it,” she said. “You have to have good grades, go to college and have hands-on experience. You have to love animals. If you don’t love animals, there’s no point.”

Over at the Roosevelt County Law Enforcement Center, eighth-grader Isaiah Lucero became part of a crime-fighting duo with Portales Police Officer Dale Shank. Lucero said he was briefed at about 8 a.m. and was told he could go on patrol with an officer. He said he was forbidden, however, to participate in any shoot-outs that might arise.

Lucero said he wants to be an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) officer when he grows up.

“Arresting the bad guys, that would be fun,” he said. “ My uncle was in the National Guard and he got me into all this law enforcement stuff.”

During Lucero’s patrol with Shank, he got to observe Shank looking for speeders with his radar equipment.

“We didn’t catch any speeders, because as soon as they saw us, they slowed down,” Lucero said.

Lucero went with Shank on a run to pick up two juvenile females who were accused of fighting.

“I rode in the car while they were in the back seat,” he said. “I knew one of the girls.”

Lucero said the high point of his day was going to be hanging out with the K-9 unit. Since Shank wasn’t getting too many calls, Lucero said he spent a good part of the morning asking Shank questions about New Mexico state law.