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Spreading “Sunshine” to stressed-out students

SUNSHINEFinals are winding down, but there are still plenty of stressed-out students in the library working feverishly to prepare for those last exams.

Luckily, therapy dogs from HABIT (Human Animal Bond in Tennessee) will be at the John C. Hodges Library every day this week to help students decompress between exams. One of those dogs will be bearing special messages of encouragement from a group of third-graders.

Sunshine is a female Golden Retriever who makes weekly visits to Sara Kerstetter’s third-grade class at Farragut Intermediate School as part of HABIT’s Ruff Reading Program. Sunshine, who is in her fourth year at Farragut, has her own corner in the classroom where she lies down to “read” with individual students. (Sunshine, in fact, is blind in one eye and had to have surgery to remove the eye during her first year in Mrs. Kerstetter’s class.) Sunshine is considered a member of the class and is even included in the class photo.

When Mrs. Kerstetter’s class heard that Sunshine would be visiting the UT library this week to offer stress relief to college students taking exams, the students wanted to offer their support as well. It was the students’ idea: they are preparing gifts to cheer up the overworked college students.

UT students who stop by this Thursday to pat Sunshine will get an extra boost: handwritten notes from Mrs. Kerstetter’s third-graders. Sunshine and her person, John Brockman, will be at the Melrose entrance of Hodges Library from noon to 2 p.m. this Thursday … just spreading a little extra sunshine.

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