Some days, Christy Newlon’s parents don’t need to ask her how school went. “They kind of figure it out when I come home with blood all over me,” says the Wasilla, Alaska, 17-year-old. “Either I’ve been on a mass-murder spree or I’ve been in biology class.”
For Tim Lundt’s students, yesterday’s roadkill is today’s anatomy lesson, and the preferred project is the mighty moose. “Frogs are so small you can barely get your forceps in there, let alone your hands,” says Lundt, 37. “A moose is right in your face.”
That’s no Bullwinkle. A native Coloradan, Lundt came to the Mat-Su Alternative School north of Anchorage in 1996 to start a science program for 200 students who had difficulties at traditional schools. “I had to think of something creative,” he says. Last January local officials tipped him off to his first unlucky ungulate. Students dissected the moose on the roadside; then, in the lab, they peered at tissue samples under the microscope and reassembled the skeleton, which took five months. Finally, they compiled a moose cookbook (corned moose and cabbage, anyone?) and sold 320 copies as a fund-raiser.
Led by Lundt, a father of two with wife Debi, students have since dismantled three more moose, two lynxes and a bear cub. Adam Ryan, 17, says his after-school aroma has appalled coworkers at a vegetarian cafe. “But hey,” he says, “welcome to Alaska.”