Dave Monti, a science teacher at Riverside-Brookfield High School, almost never lets students use their cellphones in class. But once a year he makes an exception, and this year it led to an internet sensation as a 30-second video shot in Monti’s zoology class on Dec. 9 went viral over the weekend.
The video shows the reaction of RBHS senior Jalen Brooks to a rare duck and then his stunned reaction to a 200-pound Burmese python, which were two of the animals brought to class Friday by Jamie McInerney of Reptile Rampage, a wildlife education company that McInerney runs from Mokena.
The video was taken by RBHS senior Jill Lojas on her cellphone.
“I was trying to take a video of the weird duck and then I saw Jalen’s face over the duck’s shoulder … so I zoomed in on his face,” Lojas said. “He’s an animated guy. It was just funny, so I started filming it and he had no idea.”
McInerney has been bringing in rare reptiles to Monti’s zoology classes for the past 14 years. This year he brought in 11 animals.
But it was a 32-year-old Burmese python that caused Brooks’ jaw to drop and his mouth to open wide in amazement. Monti said that the python is both the largest and oldest snake in captivity.
“It was extremely long and the way he pulled it out of the box it really caught me off guard,” Brooks said. “Those were all just natural reactions.”
After the class, Lojas asked Brooks if he would mind if she posted the video of his reactions on social media. He said it was fine. So Friday after school Lojas posted the video to her Twitter feed.
“It just blew up,” Lojas said.
The video quickly went viral, generating millions of views on various social media sites. Monti says it had generated more than 30 million views by Monday morning. One Facebook post alone has about 133,000 shares and about 36,000 comments.
The video has been picked up by the “Good Morning America” website and Lojas has heard from the NBC “Today Show” while Brooks has heard from reporters for Buzzfeed.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Lojas said.
Brooks, who plays basketball for RBHS, is enjoying the publicity he and, more importantly, his school is getting.
“I love all this really,” Brooks said. “It kind of put RB on the map.”
He’s become a bit of sensation at school.
“Anywhere that I go, people ask me for pictures or just to make the face or anything like that,” Brooks said. “It’s been pretty unreal.”
Both Lajos and Brooks say that they love Monti’s zoology class.
“It’s definitely my favorite class or at least one of my favorite classes,” Brooks said.
McInerney passed the snake around and put it on the floor so students could touch it if they wanted to.
But Brooks wanted no part of that. He didn’t touch any of the reptiles.
“I was way too scared to,” Brooks said.