They call him ... Critter Man

Seventh grader Rebecca Lewis was picked by the Critter Man David Kleven to get on stage with him and assist with the Burmese python on Tuesday at the Jacksonville Middle School success party.

He carries pythons, he deals with American alligators, and to the students at Jacksonville Middle School, he's the Critter Man.

The Critter Man was the special guest at the school's success party Tuesday afternoon.

Every six weeks, the students are given a party when they have followed the criteria for a given time period.

“They had to have no more than one step in class (demerit), no zeros in their grade book and no office referrals,” Assistant Principal Lisa Dailey said.

David Kleven, primarily known as the Critter Man, said this was his third trip to Jacksonville Middle School.

The program he taught was titled “Night Creatures” and featured an American alligator, a fennec fox from the Sahara Desert, a giant legless lizard, a barn owl, a kinkajou and a Burmese python.

“The kids earned coming to the show through their behaviors and this is their reward and a test of their knowledge of what they have already learned,” he said.

The “Fantastic Feathers” from East Side Elementary joined in on the show with the seventh graders.

Fantastic Feathers consist of a boy and a girl from each grade level and with them, six students who demonstrated one of the six character traits the students are learning (respectful, responsible, trustworthy, citizenship, fairness, caring). The children were nominated by their class teachers.

Kleven uses jokes and asks questions to get the students involved in his program.

Students easily confuse the legless lizard with a snake, and Kleven asked if any students knew what the animal was. Lane Meece, one of the few students who raised his hands, answered correctly and went on stage to help present the animal.

Throughout the program, Kleven gave distinguishing factors such as a legless lizard have eyelids and can blink, while snakes cannot.

Another fact given when presenting the owl was that they have asymmetrical hearing, one ear near the top of the head and the other near the neck. So owls not only hear sound coming from the left or right, but they hear sound coming from above or below.

Rebeca Lewis, raised her hand as an opportunity to get on stage with the burmese python and was chosen.

Lewis said she was not scared when she got on stage because she has a chicken snake at home and has dealt with them before.

“My dad's friend used to have a pet snake,” she said.

While Sidney Chambless said her favorite part of the show was the kinkajou because it was “tiny and cute,” Justin Moore found the barn owl interesting because “you can find it anywhere.”

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