Carol Anderson's eighth-graders at Shabbona Middle School in Morris have come up with some unique topics for their "how to" speeches in the past.
"I've seen some unusual things," Anderson said. "I've had (someone bring in) a talking bird before."
But she saw the "most unusual" topic Wednesday, May 9. For the first time, one of Anderson's students wanted to teach her classmates how to groom a horse.
Eighth-grader Holly French grew up with horses, so when she was asked to come up with a "how to" topic, she thought of her 3-year-old cousin Easton Kempiak's miniature horse, Calvin, also 3.
"I've never had anyone bring a horse (to school) before," Anderson said before French started her presentation. "This is awesome."
The students were allowed to choose their own topics, but were encouraged to select a subject they were already familiar with.
Over the week of listening to speeches, the eighth-graders learned about shot put and discus, long jumping and why it's a good idea to visit Mexico. But French was the only one to bring in a horse for her presentation.
"It's amazing," French said about having Calvin at her school Wednesday. "But I'm a little nervous."
French's speech was to last between 2 and 7 minutes, was to include facts and should have had a good opening and a good conclusion, Anderson said.
Once she started her demonstration, French taught her peers that in order to groom a horse, she needed a curry comb, a mane and tail comb, a hoof pick, a halter and a lead rope.
She showed the students how to brush Calvin's brown-gray coat with the curry comb. She used the mane and tail comb to get the tangles out of Calvin's tail, and she made sure to pick out rocks and dirt clumps from Calvin's hoofs with the hoof pick.
After the demonstration, the students were allowed pet Calvin and feed him carrots.
Sera Mack, another eighth-grader, fed Calvin two carrots and described her first experience hand-feeding a horse as "peculiar."
"It was awesome, but different," Mack said.
Calvin was energetic during the presentation, because he wasn't used to having an audience and was nervous without his three fellow horses from home around him, French's aunt, Heidi Kempiak said. But he did well with the large crowd overall.
"Cleaning horses and taking care of them is really important," French told her peers. "Horses aren't just for toys."