Eisenhower Elementary in Minnesota has been helping make a smooth transition in life.
A mama duck and her 10 ducklings paraded down an Eisenhower hallway, out an exterior door, and into a pond behind the school continuing a 20-year tradition.
“C’mon momma,” kindergarten teach Betty Johnson said, guiding the mama mallard down the hallway. “You know the way,” she said as sixth graders stood pin-drop quiet on either side of the hallway, as one whispered, “They’re so cute.”
The tradition started when a mallard flew into the school’s enclosed courtyard to lay her eggs. She remained there as she had no way to her flightless ducklings back out.
As the babies sat put in the courtyard with hawks and other flying predators around, someone came to the rescue and opened the courtyard door, allowing the mother duck to march them through the school.
This passage of ducks and ducklings has now become a spring ritual and has been repeated by one generation of ducks to the next. “It’s kind of bittersweet because we love watching them grow up, but this is where they belong,” Johnson said.
Eisenhower’s library media specialist Jeff Shepherd is also an avid supporter of this tradition as his workspace provides him a direct view of the courtyard. “And as soon as they’re born, ‘I’m like okay, everyone stay away, everyone be careful, everyone look out.’”
Now this spring in-school migration of ducks and ducklings is the subject of a new children’s book celebrating the ducks’ annual hallway passage.
The book was written and illustrated by Eisenhower school parents Brad and Laurie Gilmore. “There’s really a metaphor for what the school is doing to prepare the kids for where they’re going next,” Brad Gilmore says. “Middle school from here.”
The Gilmores, plan to donate proceeds from the book to pay for upkeep and improvements in the courtyard.
Johnson and Shepherd are ecstatic as the ducks cleared the schoolyard and swam out of view on the pond. “We did it,” Johnson said. “Another family.” What a beautiful tradition this has become and is making such a great impact on the minds of young students at Eisenhower Elementary.