The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

The student-run news site of Lawrence Free State High School

Free Press Online

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FEATURE: Wayne’s Impact: How Therapy Dogs Impact Classrooms

Students and teachers share how seeing Wayne at school affects them
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Elinor Russo
Waiting for a treat, school service dog Wayne smiles at the camera. During school, students such as freshman Rae Humphrey enjoy visiting Wayne to improve their mood. “[I like to come see Wayne] because when I’m having a bad day, he boosts my serotonin,” Humphrey said.

Students have a number of resources offered to them at school, and a new addition to these resources is the school’s therapy dog, Wayne. He first came to the school two years ago, and has been helping students ever since. 

Wayne has become a highlight of some students’ day, and introduces a source of comfort for students who need it. Freshman Julietta Keathley-Helms sees Wayne as a helpful new addition to the school’s staff. 

“Certain students might need an animal there just to help calm them down, and it is a good resource that we have,” Keathley-Helms said. 

Therapy dogs have become increasingly common in schools, and while some may think that animals in school could be distracting, Helms believes that dogs are common enough for students to be comfortable with Wayne. 

 “A dog is a pretty typical animal that doesn’t distract people often,” Helms said. 

Wayne’s owner, security guard Demetrius Kemp, was inspired by the impact he had seen therapy dogs have in other schools, and he wanted to bring that to Free State. 

“I’ve worked in schools that have had therapy dogs, and I just see the benefit that it brings,” Kemp said. “It’s cool to have something that you know, could take your mind off of, you know, stressing over a test or stressing over a class or just pressures of school.”

This summer Wayne became an official therapy dog. This title comes with many different roles, such as providing either emotional support or a distraction from stress to students. However, this role is different from what Wayne would do if he were an individualized service dog. 

“The difference is that service dogs are there for one particular student, and therapy dogs are there for all students, so he’s just here to cheer people up and take some stress off of what affects you,” Kemp said.  

Both students and staff benefit from the services that Wayne provides, whether it’s in or out of the classroom. French teacher Karen Gipson enjoys having Wayne in her room throughout the school day either to give him treats or just give him attention. 

“I wish I could have one live in my room,” Gipson said. “There’s days where just getting a good snuggle or kiss from Wayne is like literal therapy.” 

Wayne provides support and comfort to both students and teachers by showing them a familiar face during class time. Overall, his impact on people leaves them wishing they had a spare moment to spend with him. 

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About the Contributors
Maura Langland
Maura Langland, Reporter
Maura Langland is a senior at Free State High School. She is involved in National Honor Society, LINK Crew and is a reporter on the FSJ staff. Outside of school, she dances competitively and enjoys spending time with friends and family.
Elinor Russo
Elinor Russo, Captions Editor
Elinor Russo is a junior and photographer on staff. She is involved in NHS, Link Crew, and Fiberbirds. Outside of school, she enjoys crocheting, cooking, playing piano, and gardening.
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