When entering the New Day Charter School lobby, people will take notice of the the fish tank. This tank first appeared last year as a gift from a graduate.
New Day graduate Veronica “Roni” McKnight decided to give her fish to New Day Charter School (NDCS) as a parting gift.
McKnight gave her fish to New Day because she had them for three years and she was moving to South Carolina. McKnight had a connection with business teacher Marjorie Biddle and had decided that instead of taking them to Petco or another pet store, she would ask the school if they would like to have the fish.
“The sound of the tank and watching the fish is actually proven to help with anxiety and stress, and I know that from just watching them, people feel relaxed,” said McKnight. She had thought that, for this reason, the fish would be a good fit for New Day. “Another reason I brought my fish here is, because I know y’all will take care of them, and I just love New Day for all it’s done for me.”
New Day originally started out with one large common Pleco (algae eater) named Gollum, one large black fantail goldfish sashimi, two cory catfish named Fish and Chips, and three Red-Fin Tetra named Samwise, Merry and Pippin. For the first semester, the fish were kept in Biddle’s room and the students who had jobs were tasked with feeding them. However, when Biddle rotated from Huntingdon to the Mifflintown site for the second semester, the fish had to be moved out into the lobby, where they reside today.
Taking care of the fish is a year-round task, even when the students are out. “I feed the fish each day, even on the weekend! I clean the tank, add fresh water and care for the fish. Over the summer, Chelsie Coons, the secretary at the Mifflintown Site, comes to Huntingdon to work as I’m off in the summer, and she takes care of the fish,” said administrative assistant Crystal McNeal.
McNeal even had to play vet this year. “The black fantail goldfish this year developed tail rot,” she said. Tail rot is a fungal disease that attacks the tail. This caused the pleco to attack the goldfish’s tail. “I set up another fish tank and separated the two fish. The goldfish healed and is doing better than ever. (Junior) Meya Shore and her father took the common pleco to their home to their own fish tank to keep the two separated. Everyone is doing very well now,” said McNeal.