Camas High School Junior Anna Nordwell joined journalism to tell stories and get a writing experience that is different from English class. She wants to gain some journalism experience because it has similarities to marketing, which is a field she wants to study in college. Nordwell cares about telling stories because she wants people to be informed about their community and the world around them.
Despite learning remotely this year, Nordwell has really enjoyed journalism class so far.
She said, “It’s very fun and definitely one of my favorite classes to come to. It’s kind of relaxing at the end of the day and it’s not really stressful to me.”
Something that captivates Nordwell is her pet ball python Soju. She loves learning about ball pythons and could talk about her snake for hours on end.
“I’m very used to snakes, I love snakes as a whole. There’s no real instances where she shocks or startles me,” she said.
When Nordwell got Soju at a reptile expo in Portland. At first, she did not know what to name her. One of her friends suggested the name Soju, which is a Korean alcohol. Nordwell loved the idea because she has a tendency to name pets after foods or drinks.
Ball pythons get their name from the fact that they like to curl up in a ball when they are scared. However, Soju does not do that.
Nordwell said, “She’s actually one of the really curious and super friendly snakes that I’ve seen. She doesn’t really get super scared.”
Soju just turned two at the end of last month, and is now around three and a half feet long. She could possibly grow a couple more inches and get up to five feet long.
Soju does not get scared of much, and most of Nordwell’s friends are comfortable around her.
“A majority of my friends are comfortable with snakes. The only issue is with how big she is, some people are a little more nervous with bigger snakes. She’s starting to get on that end of things, but mostly everyone’s fine with it,” Nordwell said.
She added, “Whenever I want to talk about her, I always go to someone who’s not afraid of snakes or someone who’s curious about snakes.”
Nordwell enjoys learning as much about ball pythons as she can, whether that be through online resources or just observing Soju.
She said, “I also learn from her as a whole, like learning what she likes, what she doesn’t like, behaviors, all that stuff.”
She bonds really well with her snake because she feels like they have similar personalities.
“She’s kind of similar to me. She’s very dorky, very curious about a lot of things,” Nordwell said.
For the most part Soju stays in Nordwell’s room and does not venture around the house. Nordwell made a deal with her mom, upon the purchase of Soju, that the snake would not leave her room.
“My mom actually does not like snakes very much. She only let me get it on the condition that I kept her in my room and I got cage locks for her tank so she can’t get out,” she said.
Nordwell has an enclosure set up next to her bed that Soju stays in.
“I usually take her out when I notice she’s getting more active at night, kind of needing the ability to move around. If she’s more active at night time that tells me that she needs to be let out so she can explore and get all her energy out.”
Over the years, Soju has not caused many problems. She has never bit Nordwell or any of her friends, but at one point she stopped eating for a long time because she had a stuck shed.
“She is definitely very curious about everything and super friendly, but she’s a little reserved with new people. She needs me to hold her first to kind of get her used to being around another person, and then she’ll go with them,” she said.
At the beginning of quarantine when everyone was stuck inside, Soju helped keep Nordwell sane.
“I’d have her out like every other day, except on feeding days. I would just kind of hold her and mess with her, and just kind of have her with me to keep me sane, mostly. She gave me that sort of interaction that I wanted because she does have a personality of her own.”
She added, “When I’m particularly upset, she has a tendency to wrap half of her tail around my neck, crawl down my back, and start moving side to side. It is kind of like someone rubbing my back when I’m upset.”
While learning remotely, she sometimes likes to bring Soju on camera during Zoom class.
She said, “Classmates love seeing her whenever I hold her in class.”
Nordwell is truly captivated by snakes and loves learning more about them. Snakes have a reputation of not being friendly creatures, but Nordwell wants others to know that she has had a great experience with them.
“A lot of people think snakes are these super cold, callous creatures that aren’t really friendly. From my experience, at least with Soju, she’s very compassionate, very friendly, and just a happy snake overall,” she said.