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Happy Graduation!

When Grace Mariani graduated from college, she got a diploma. And so did her service dog, Justin!

A golden retriever and lab mix dog in a Canine Companions vest sniffs a diploma held out by a man in an academic robe as a woman sitting in a wheelchair and wearing a cap and gown smiles.

Courtesy Seton Hall University/Kristine Foley

Grace Mariani and her service dog, Justin, both received diplomas from Seton Hall University president Joseph Nyre.

When Grace Mariani went to college, her service dog, Justin, was by her side all the way. So when Mariani graduated from college and got a diploma, Justin got one, too!

Service dogs are trained to help people who have disabilities. Justin helps Mariani, who uses a wheelchair, with certain tasks. The 6-year-old Labrador and golden retriever mix went with Mariani to all of her classes at Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

Mariani graduated from Seton Hall in May 2023. The ceremony took place in a large arena in front of a huge crowd. When Mariani’s name was called, she and Justin went to the stage, where college president Joseph Nyre was waiting with Mariani’s diploma—the certificate saying that she had finished college. Nyre gave Mariani her certificate, but he didn’t stop there. He then held out a diploma to Justin.

Justin looked like he wasn’t too sure what to do at first. He sniffed the diploma and then looked at Mariani. When she signaled to him, he took the rolled-up paper in his mouth. The crowd cheered. Mariani smiled, and Nyre raised his arms in celebration. Hearing the cheers, Justin wagged his tail.

Mariani is planning to become a teacher. Justin will keep on being a service dog—a service dog with a college diploma!

Seton Hall University

When Justin took his diploma, the whole crowd cheered!

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Did You Know?

A teen on a stage smiles and holds up a trophy as an audience and other teens clap.

Marvin Joseph—The Washington Post/Getty Images

Every year, students gather for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the biggest spelling contest in the United States. The last day of this year’s spelling bee was June 1, 2023. The winner was 14-year-old Dev Shah of Florida. Dev won after spelling the word psammophile. A psammophile is a living thing that likes to live in sandy soil.

Helping Paws

Three panels showing a dog leading a blind man on a sidewalk, a dog pulling a door closed for a man using a wheelchair, and a dog lying at the feet of a wheelchair user.

© Roman, Jose Luis Stephens, 24K-Productions/stock.adobe.com

Service dogs are specially trained to help people.

You may know a dog that can follow commands like “sit” and “stay.” Dogs can be trained to sit and stay on command because most of them love to make people happy. 

Some dogs have jobs helping people. For example, service dogs are specially trained to help people who have disabilities. Each service dog is matched with one person and trained to help that person with their needs. Here are just a few of the things service dogs might be trained to do.

  • Pick up, carry, and retrieve (get) objects
  • Turn lights on and off
  • Open and close doors
  • Warn the person when they are about to have a seizure
  • Calm the person if they get anxious or have nightmares
  • Bark or dial 911 to get help when there is an emergency
  • Walk the person around obstacles or help to find objects (if the person is blind)
  • Alert the person to certain sounds (if the person is deaf)

Every dog is different, and not every dog would make a good service dog. Service dogs must be calm, intelligent, friendly with strangers, able to follow orders, and able to pay attention to what is happening.

Justin, Grace Mariani’s dog, is part Labrador (or Lab). Labs often make great service dogs because they are friendly and they like to please people!

What Is Juneteenth?

Three panels showing dancers, a parade with flags, and three people clapping for Juneteenth.

© Dylan Buell, Go Nakamura, Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Juneteenth is celebrated all over the United States.

On June 19, people in the United States mark a holiday called Juneteenth. What’s the story behind Juneteenth?

You might know that in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln freed most people who were enslaved. But it took a long time for the news to reach some parts of the country. On June 19, 1865, U.S. soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas. They told the enslaved people there that they were free.

There’s a lot more to learn about Juneteenth!

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Word of the Day

devotion

Part of speech:

noun

Definition:

: a feeling of strong love or loyalty : the quality of being devoted

Definitions provided by
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