Everything's Ducky With Student's Petition Drive

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Christopher Fraga has this thing about animals.

"He's just real sensitive, and he really likes animals," says his mother, Terri Wheeler.

"All kinds of animals," adds Christopher, an 11-year-old fifth-grader at Payson Elementary School. Including ducks and geese.

Christopher whose family includes a brother, sister, two dogs and nine cats was made aware of the plight of the ducks and geese who hang out at Green Valley Park when his mother read him the front page story in the Aug. 31 Roundup headlined, "If neighbors have their way, these geese are cooked."

After hearing about the request by some residents of the Mountain View Manor condo complex across the street from the park that the town Parks Department look into removing the birds because they make noise late at night Christopher decided to do something about it.

Unbeknownst to his mother, he began circulating a petition at school to save the ducks and geese. "He just came home one day and told me," Wheeler said.

By then he had collected over 60 signatures, including those of many of the teachers at PES. Principal Roy Sandoval, however, has chosen to steer a middle course.

"We principals tend to take a neutral position on issues of ducks," he said, with tongue firmly in cheek. "Our school policy does not address the issue of ducks."

Turning serious, Sandoval said, "He's a fine kid who has strong feelings about this issue, and I think that's great. We are fortunate to live in a great country where he's able to express them.

"When kids get involved in causes, we try not to discourage them. Of course, we always try to strike a balance."

Christopher's teacher, Bruce Haught, says he's a bit of an anomaly. "He's this big, broad-shouldered kid, but he's very soft spoken," Haught said. "He's very kind-hearted."

His mother says that Christopher is an active boy who spends a lot of his spare time fishing at Green Valley Park. "We go to the park as a family just about every day when school's out, and he has always enjoyed the ducks and geese."

She says her son inherited his love for animals from her, witness the nine cats and two dogs. "One of our cats we saved from being put down by the shelter," Wheeler said.

Christopher, who catches mostly trout but recently hauled in a big mouth bass, is not hypocritical about his concern for the ducks and geese who hang around while he's fishing.

"We always put the fish back after we catch them," he said.

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