Sophomore Maria Turco Initiates PAWS Club for Animal Welfare


Sophomore Maria Turco poses for a picture with her dog and a fostered dog

Maraba Roznik, Editor

Arrowhead is offering a new club called People for Animal Welfare in Society (PAWS). Started by Sophomore Maria Turco, PAWS promotes and educates people on the importance of animal welfare. PAWS has its first meeting on Tuesday, April 12th, and will continue to convene the first and third Tuesday of every month from 2:45 to 3:30 in room 160 at North Campus.

Students who are interested in joining and being a part of the PAWS mission should contact either Maria Turco or teacher advisors  Janelle Hobbs (AHS Math teacher), Laura Lampshire (AHS Math teacher), or Daniel Miller (AHS Social Studies teacher).

Turco says, “I have always been really passionate about animals. I’ve volunteered at Fluffy Dog Rescue for the past two and a half years, and I was amazed that we are not doing anything at Arrowhead to prevent animal cruelty. I combined my love for animals and desire to be in a club at Arrowhead to start PAWS.”

For the remainder of the school year, PAWS will focus on spreading awareness of its goals, and planning what they want to accomplish.

Turco says, “Our main thing this year is entering a group in the annual HAWS walk in Sussex in May. This will be a requirement for all members. We will also do little crafts and fundraising for local humane societies and rescue organizations.”

PAWS will also bring in guest speakers on preventing animal abuse and making a difference in the community.

In upcoming years, PAWS is planning on visiting elementary schools, advertising for local families who have lost their pets, and participating in drives for local shelters. Turco says she hopes to also host a walk/run at Arrowhead.

“We have big plans,” Turco says.

In order to start her club, Turco had to speak with friends and other students to see if their was an interest in the animal welfare topic before she was officially able to present her idea to the school. After planning out the details, goals, and meeting times of the club, Turco got advice from AHS associate principal Becky Gordon to recruit a teacher to be an advisor.

Turco said, “I emailed a couple of teachers, but it was Mr. Tower [Tim Tower, Social Studies teacher] who truly helped me.”

Tower emailed AHS teachers about Turco’s club, and peaked interest from three of the teachers (Hobbs, Lampshire, Miller). Turco followed up with the teachers, and then the real planning for the club began.

She says, “We started having meetings together to plan everything out and really get things solidified.”

According to Turco, there were a few complications and obstacles she had to face in order to make her club a reality.

“For one, I had no idea what to do. But once I asked around, I kind of got the big picture, which was enough. Another [challenge] was finding a teacher mentor. I asked about three before I finally got some interest. In addition, our club initially was not approved, that was a major setback,” says Turco.

Despite these challenges, Turco fought forward, rethought and readjusted her plans, and continued to make strives towards creating and approving PAWS at Arrowhead.

Turco says, “I did not want to give up on something I was so passionate about, so I persevered and tried again. It looks like my hard work will be paid off.”

During the first year of PAWS, Turco says she is hoping to recruit at least 30 members.

“Because animal welfare is kind of a serious issue, and I do not think this is a club for people who merely love animals, I do not think that [the number of members] will be too big,” says Turco.

Being the founder of the PAWS club, Turco will continue to be involved in the club’s affairs and causes past graduation.

Turco says, “I will of course stay in touch with the teacher advisers and keep up with PAWS. I also really want to do something with animal welfare in my future, such as volunteering at a shelter or working with animal rescue organizations.”

Based on her efforts to make PAWS a reality and the obstacles she had to overcome, Turco says she encourages others who wish to start their own club to get a teacher adviser right away, and to not give up even though it’s a lot of work.

Turco says, “If you are persistent and determined, truly no bad news will get in your way.”
If you are interested in learning about animal welfare, join Arrowhead’s newest club PAWS, and help make a difference in the community.