Mr. Baxter: AHS Says Goodbye


photo by Amelia Sorensen

Allayana Darrow, Editor in Chief

This year we are saying goodbye to one of Ashland High School’s most influential and remarkable teachers, Allison French. Her history at AHS spans across many classes including Health, Journalism, Rogue News, SAEJ and Wellness, as well as working as one of three Fresh Start coordinators and creating a great deal of the Advisory curriculum. Additionally, French coached volleyball and was an integral part of supporting AHS athletes with their academic eligibility. As a big part of all of these programs, she has touched the hearts of students, staff and community members alike over the past 19 years. Now that she will be taking a one year sabbatical, Ms. French is looking forward to hiking, cycling, keeping bees and Fresh Start. Though Ms. French will be dearly missed, Ashland High School will also be letting go of a certain furry member of the AHS staff, Mr. Baxter.

Ms. French’s three year old companion, the adorable mutt that he is, is also a very talented therapy dog. Ms. French and Baxter have created an unbreakable bond since they began their journey together in April, 2013. Ms. French adopted Baxter from a the Jackson County Animal Shelter when he was almost one year old. Unfortunately, he had to be quarantined in a woodshop turned doggie house for several days since he had kennel cough. He then jumped out of his kennel and sat by the window waiting for Ms. French to come home. Since then, they have become best buddies.

Before coming on campus, Baxter had to complete several tasks. He had to be able to obey commands, walk by food without stopping, be comfortable with kids, wheelchairs, crutches and other dogs, and weave through a crowd of people. These tasks were a walk in the park for Baxter, but perhaps his best skill was summed up by his owner, Ms. French, “He’s an aggressive cuddler.”

After therapy dog testing, Baxter was approved to come on campus. His sweet temperament and miraculous personality came naturally, without any training whatsoever. Though not trained as an assistance dog, Baxter is a calm presence around a chaotic high school scene and often causes tense students and staff to ease up and crack a smile. Ms. French often takes Baxter down to visit with students in the Skills classroom and they simply adore him. His easy going demeanor is enough to make anyone’s attitude improve and for the Skills students, his love is something they cherish. Baxter has helped create a safe and welcoming atmosphere for even the most introverted students, allowing them to find a friend when social interaction is not as easy. As a result, many students are able to open up and feel more comfortable in the high school atmosphere.

Since Baxter will also be taking a break from the hard days of endless petting, sleeping and rolling on the floor, his plans are to visit retirement communities and Hospice, hoping to bring some of his calming love to senior citizens. Rogue News and Ashland High School wish Ms. French and Baxter the best of luck – they will both be dearly missed!

photo by Amelia Sorensen
photo by Amelia Sorensen