Maggi Rooni (from left), Hank Williams, Ryan Friermood and Lillian Balsamo, students in Dana Brown’s kindergarten class, cuddle up to Belle, Lake Superior Elementary School’s resident comfort dog. The 8-year-old Saint Bernard walks the halls and visits classrooms in part to soothe stressed students. (Rick Olivo/Staff photo)

Belle the Saint Bernard walks up and down the hallways of Lake Superior Elementary School as if she owns the place.

An occasional staff member or student walks by and they give her a pat, which Belle accepts as her due. When Mike Weaver, a special-education teacher, calls for her to return, Belle has other ideas. She sees a familiar classroom door and saunters over to check it out.

Jenny Richardson



Avicia Kappeler, 9, (left) and Madison Maulson visit with Belle, who calmly accepted the indignity of a lion’s mane Halloween costume, as special-education teacher Shannon Osterman looks on. (Rick Olivo/Staff photo)


Special Education teacher Mike Weaver holds Snuggles and Spike, a pair of bearded dragons that are hits wherever they are shown at the school. Weaver said the lizards help to engage students and are just a lot of fun to see and touch. (Rick Olivo/Staff photo)


Jens LaGrew, a student in Lindsay Stanley’s third-grade class, holds a corn snake named Mittens that calls the school home. (Rick Olivo/Staff photo)

Melissa Fiamoncini


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