By Valerie Gonzaga
Like most high schools, Bonita Vista High School is home to a wide variety of established student-run clubs that range from focusing on yoga to human rights. However, there is one club that stands out among the many that meet on campus; the club whose name is actually an acronym for a certain sleepy animal: SLOTHS club, standing for “Saving Lives Of THreatened Species.”
“What we do is raise money to send to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), so that they can contribute [our] money towards saving endangered species. For example, we just got a sloth bear which we gave them $55 [for], and the $55 goes towards conservation for the animals,” sophomore SLOTHS vice president Emma Rand said.
The club started three and a half years ago, with advisor Dr. Michelle Dumesnil-Mardahl agreeing to hold meetings every Tuesday in her room. At these meetings, students discuss fundraising options and decide which animal they would soon “buy” or protect.
“Gabe Maze Rogers was the original [starter of the club.] He said, ‘Dr. Mardahl, can we have a sloth club? We’re going to raise money and we’re going to adopt a sloth.’ We needed fifty dollars and at the end, we only had twenty-five. I asked all of my freshmen to put ten cents toward our sloth, and someone put in ten dollars and we were able to get it. That whole year, we got one sloth,” Dr. Mardahl said.
As the second and third year progressed on, the club did significantly better by adopting a notable amount of animals, not just focusing on sloths. After every adoption, the club receives a stuffed animal to represent the animals their funds are going towards.
“We sell otter pops after school to make money [for these animals]. When we have enough money to buy an animal, we host a meeting and vote on a selection of a few animals. We like to pick by the most endangered species, or our favorite. We vote, we buy it and then the toy comes in the mail in which we then put it up on the wall,” junior SLOTHS president Mary Warmbier said.
In the three and a half years of SLOTHS’ existence, they have bought twenty-five animals, which comes out to approximately $1500 raised through otter pop sales. All the stuffed animals currently reside on one of the large ceiling lights hanging in Dr. Mardahl’s classroom, with small, decorated signs displaying the names corresponding to each and every one of the plush creatures.
“Because of the club, people get a little bit more awareness about the animals that are endangered; many students wouldn’t really think about [as being endangered.] It just brings more awareness [to the school] in general,” Rand said.
The club will continue to sell otter pops in hopes of adopting more and more animals to help fund wildlife reserves.
“We actually have results. [Our goals is that] we want to get more animals. It’s simple — we make money, we buy more animals,” Mardahl said.