Arcola Elementary School students send off duck family in style

Arcola Elementary School staff use a cardboard project board and sticks tipped with tennis balls to guide a mother duck and her ducklings through the school Wednesday so they can get to a nearby pond. (Courtesy of Lizette Downey of Northwest Allen County Schools)
Students at Arcola Elementary School watch Wednesday as a mother duck leads her ducklings from the school courtyard through the school to get a nearby pond. (Courtesy of Lizette Downey of Northwest Allen County Schools)
Students line a sidewalk Wednesday at Arcola Elementary School to watch silently as a mother duck who made her next in the school's inner courtyard was guided through the school with her ducklings so they could waddle to a nearby pond. (Courtesy of Lizette Downey of Northwest Allen County Schools)
Arcola Elementary School staff use a cardboard project board and sticks tipped with tennis balls to guide a mother duck and her ducklings through the school Wednesday so they can get to a nearby pond. (Courtesy of Lizette Downey of Northwest Allen County Schools)
The duck family makes its way across the playground area at Arcola Elementary School on their way Wednesday to a nearby pond. The mother duck made her nest in the school's inner courtyard and had to be escorted through part of the school to get to the pond. (Courtesy of Lizette Downey of Northwest Allen County Schools)

Arcola Elementary School students took part in a silent graduation ceremony of sorts Wednesday.

A mother duck who made her nest in the school’s courtyard was ready to lead her 10 ducklings off to life at a nearby pond, Lizette Downey, chief communications officer for Northwest Allen County Schools, said via email. The only way to get there was through part of the school.

So students, teachers and staff planned a Duck Parade to let the ducklings graduate to the next phase of growing up.

This is the second Duck Parade at Arcola Elementary. School staff think the same mallard hen, who second-graders named Courtney Waddlesworth, made her nest in the school courtyard last spring.

This year, the school’s head custodian, Teresa Kage, kept watch over Courtney and her family during their stay at the school, Downey said. Kage even set out little saucers containing water so the ducklings had their own little pools.

“This morning, the mama duck was ready to go — she was circling the patio at the only entrance to the building from the courtyard,” Downey said.

Students sat along the walls in the school hallways the ducks would parade through, as well as along part of the sidewalk outside the school. The children remained quiet, Downey said, so they didn’t scare Courtney or her babies.

With a cardboard 2018 Duck Parade sign and few sticks tipped by tennis balls, school staff gently guided mom and her ducklings down the hallways and out the door toward the pond.

Students “all waved bye to them at the end,” Downey said.

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