Cedarville Elementary kindergartners watch a momma duck and her 13 ducklings, who were raised at the school, as they are escorted Monday from the courtyard, through the halls and outside to a pond. (Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette)
Tuesday, May 01, 2018 1:00 am
Cedarville students bid ducks farewell
Waddle way to nearby pond
Children line halls to say goodbye to mom, 13 ducklings
ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette
Principal Brad Bakle hoped Monday the longer parade route through Cedarville Elementary School wouldn't cause problems for the morning's stars – a mother duck and her 13 ducklings.
More than 700 students lined a path from the courtyard to a nearby pond, eagerly awaiting the birds' exit to the wild.
“They're so cute,” one child said as the ducks waddled down a hallway.
“They're walking so fast,” said another.
Ushering ducks to the water has become tradition at the East Allen County school, which has welcomed ducklings for more than a decade.
Involving the entire student body is a recent development, however, said instructional coach Bryan Kaylor. He noted student participation began small to ensure the ducks' safety.
This year, the mama duck laid 14 eggs.
“There was one dud,” several second-graders were quick to say.
“And that's how nature works sometimes,” said teacher Julie Roberts, who brought students to the courtyard to monitor the eggs.
Students quickly learned the eggs hatched last week.
“It spreads like wildfire,” Kaylor said.
The Cedarville crew cared for the ducklings until Monday's send-off, providing food and a tray of water in which the birds could swim.
They were also mindful of potential hazards. A cinder block sat atop a sewer grate that ducklings have previously slipped through, requiring rescue from a Department of Natural Resources officer, Bakle said.
Along with a few others, Bakle helped the feathered family get onto the parade path, which was different this year because of construction.
“The kids will probably guide them the rest of the way,” Bakle said.
Although quiet at the ducks' entrance, students quickly broke the silence with coos of delight and, after the ducks passed, applause.
Once the ducks began swimming, students rushed to the pond's edge, waving and calling out their goodbyes.
“They were pretty cute,” said Madison Woods, 8.
Some students, including Kennedy Burkhardt, even named the ducks. Adventure, Fuzzy and Fluffball were among the 8-year-old's picks.
The farewell reinforced why Cedarville provides minimal care to ducklings while they are in the courtyard.
“Once they hit the water they are on their own,” Kaylor said.
To see the Cedarville Elementary's YouTube video of the duck parade, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImMIjLg-9wM