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Border collie surprises Cairo kindergarteners with presents

Sylvia Draper and Sophie Ernest pet border collie Kate who played the role of “Miss Bindergarten,” a fictional canine kindergarten teacher in the book series about the border collie. (The Enterprise/Kristine de Leon)

ONTARIO — The kindergarteners at Cairo Elementary School got a surprise last week when when Kate the border collie came through the door bearing wrapped presents.

“This is the best day ever!” exclaimed Trigger Davidson, as he ripped off the wrapping of a toy.

“It’s the best Christmas ever!” said Sylvia Draper, holding out her new Rapunzel doll in one hand and her new pink sweater in another. 

Each student received a toy, beanie and sweatshirt. The presents were given out one by one during their last class period of the day.

The border collie’s visit was part of a tradition started through a collaboration between teacher Suzie Douglas, instructional coach Jamie Martz and Leslie Capik, a border collie enthusiast who works for Intel in Portland.

Each year, the kindergarten class reads the “Miss Bindergarten” book series, which tells stories about a canine kindergarten teacher taking her students on learning adventures.

Three years ago, Martz thought it would be a great idea to have a real border collie visit the kindergarten class, playing the role of Miss Bindergarten. 

So she approached Capik, a transplant from the east coast who trains border collies to compete in national sheep trials.

In the fall, Capik visits the students with one of her collies as they begin reading the series.

 “Every year, the kids really get into border collies because of Miss Bindergarten,” said Douglas, who has been teaching kindergarten at Cairo for 10 years. “They get so excited.”

That visit is followed by the holiday event, when students are told their gifts are from the collie. Capik couldn’t make the trip from Portland this year, so she dispatched gifts for the 19 kids with a friend who relied Kate the collie for help.

“She told me that she’s been fortunate and blessed that she just wanted to give back,” Douglas said. 

Annie’s border collie sister, Kate, played the role of Miss Bindergarten last Tuesday during a visit to Cairo Elementary’s kindergarten class.

Daisy Osborn, Alexa Rojas and Yaremi Siles pet Kate, a border collie who played the role of “Miss Bindergarten.”

The kindergarten class was told that the surprise presents were from Leslie Capik and her border collie Annie, who played the role of Miss Bindergarten earlier in the fall. To give their thanks, each student made a thank you holiday card for Annie.

Otilia Bautista looks for the Christmas card she made for Leslie Capik and her border collie Annie.

Sylvia Draper removes the packaging from her new Rapunzel toy, one of three gifts she received from Leslie Capik.

Reporter Kristine de Leon: [email protected] or 541-473-3377