Pig Dissections: Another School Tradition Sidelined by Covid?

AJ Rotkis, Staff Writer

Pig dissections come around like clockwork every year in the Saint Joe community. Whether it be from the excitement of Mrs Gergely, or the smell of chemicals that throughout the entire school, everyone knows that the pigs are in. But this activity appeared to have hit a roadblock this year. A roadblock in the shape of  Covid-19. Switching modes so frequently had put dissections on permanent hold.

Student AJ Rotkis on the first day of dissections

Every year the anatomy students at Saint Joseph High School look forward with anticipation to an experience like no other: pig dissections. It is well known throughout the school as with it, comes a certain smell that stinks up the entire school. Many students dread this smell, but to some it doesn’t bother them.

Anatomy student Alex Custer offers this opinion, “You know the smell really isn’t that bad, it just smells like a bunch of chemicals mixed together. You just have to look past it and try and focus on the work that needs to be done.”

The smell isn’t the only thing that can make students feel queasy though. The sight of the dead pig that they are about to dissect can also make people’s stomach churn. Mrs Gergely tries to ease students minds and lets them have a “meet and greet,” with the pigs so they can name them, and draw on the bags that the pigs are in.

“I haven’t had anyone get sick while doing dissections so please don’t be the first.”

Students would frequently ask Mrs Gergely if she was still doing dissections this year. She repeatedly told them she didn’t know.  She did not want some students to miss out on the opportunity to take part in this educational activity, but Gergely worried that they would start the dissections and then would be interrupted because the school would transition back into an all-online schedule. With the announcement that the school would be going to mode 1  for the remainder of the semester, Gergely ordered them immediately.

The first thing that each class did with their pigs was have the meet and greet. Mrs Gergely calls every person to go and pick out their pigs. Honors anatomy students each get their own pig, but regular anatomy students share pigs. This was risky because, if one student had to be quarantined, their partner would be left alone, and would not be able to do everything that the other students could do.  After the students choose their pigs, they must design their bags. This is a fun, helpful way to ease the stress of students who are still nervous to cut open their pigs.

Mrs Gergely explains, “Most students who think they are going to be sick beforehand fell much better about the dissections after the meet and greet.

A students pig after the meet and greet

A spike in contacting tracing has forced Mrs Gergely to halt dissections currently.

“As of right now dissections are cancelled, the reason being there are too many students missing to justify continuing.”

So, will dissections start back up once this outbreak is controlled? Or is this year’s dissection doomed, to never be finished? Only time can tell, but all of Mrs. Gergely’s anatomy students hope that they resume soon.