A classroom of seventh graders at Ella Baker School in NYC were left to determine the fate of their class pet, Pablo the Tilapia. Either they cook and eat him at the end-of-school BBQ happening this Wednesday, or they set him free to live a blissful life at an aquaponics farm in Brooklyn.
“What’s the point of doing all this work, raising him to plate size, then just deciding to let him live?” questions one student. “No one cares about Pablo,” says another.
But not all the kids are on the same side of this Faustian debate. “It would be kind of sad to kill Pablo,” says 13-year-old Julianna Angalada. “He makes the room feel alive when everyone is just there doing their work.”
What kind of middle school teachers lets his students eat the class pet? Mr. Michael Paoli, who bought five tilapias as class pets on a field trip to Chinatown last month (four have since passed) “I want to show them their voice matters,” says Mr. Paoli. Their voice dictates what we do in this classroom.”
The students must decide before Wednesday’s end-of-school barbecue if the menu will feature chicken or fish. Stay tuned for updates throughout the week on Pablo.
UPDATE: After much debate, the fate of Pablo the Tilapia has been decided. The Upper East Side public school students decided to spare Pablo’s life and give him away to a farm where he can happily swim in a bigger tank. But not all of the students are happy with the result. Their teacher, Michael Paoli, says, “Now some of the kids are getting upset. Not everything is going to be rosy, especially with a topic like this and this age group.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that 12-year-old Eddie Tarr said he was disappointed when the class decided not to eat Pablo. “That was the plan from the beginning,” he said. Tarr learned an important lesson in locally sourced food, saying he felt better about eating Pablo because he knew exactly where the fish came from.
Other students were ready to boycott the school barbecue if tilapia appeared on the menu. “I feel it’s, like, the best decision we could have made because Pablo will be safe in his new home,” said eighth-grader Julianna Anglada.