Getting ducks in a row: Students participate in city duck launch

Jodi Schellenberg
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Published on June 06, 2014

A male student releases a duck into the pond at the Memorial Garden on Friday.

Published on June 06, 2014

A female student gets help releasing a duck into the pond at the Memorial Garden on Friday.

Published on June 06, 2014

A group of students sit in a circle to let the ducks run around before the duck launch on Friday at the Prince Albert Memorial Garden.

Published on June 06, 2014

Some students try to feed to newly released ducks bread while they are swimming in the pond.

Published on June 06, 2014

A group of students say farewell to their ducks and give them snack before they were released into the pond.

Published on June 06, 2014

A young girl pets a newly released duck at the Memorial Garden on Friday.

Published on June 06, 2014

A young student hangs precariously out over the water trying to touch one of the ducks just released on the pond.

Published on June 06, 2014

Two young children watch the ducks in the pond after the duck release on Friday at the Memorial Garden.

Published on June 06, 2014

A group of ducks that were released on Friday play in the pond at the Prince Albert Memorial Garden.

It was a bittersweet goodbye but students let it roll like water off their ducks’ backs.

After raising ducks in their classrooms and facilities, students from six schools and residents of two nursing homes released them in the Prince Albert Memorial Garden on Friday.

“Today there were 15 ducks -- we had a little sad news during the time they were raised and we lost a few but we’ve got 15 which is a nice group of ducks,” said Don Cody, Memorial Gardens employee. “They are all in there and seem to be having a great time.”

The duck launch happens every year to help bring wildlife to the garden.

“We like to make it so it is like a life atmosphere around the cemetery -- we want young children to come with parents and grandparents so that people when they do come and grow up they aren’t afraid of coming to a cemetery,” Cody said. “It is quite a nice place and we encourage people to come and feed the ducks all summer.”

Classrooms from the schools were given two to three ducks to raise on April 30.

“The kids were ecstatic about it,” said Michelle Hamel-Milligan, who had her Grade 2 class from King George School at the Memorial Garden.

The Grade 2 class from Vincent Massey Community School was very excited to get their ducks as well, teacher Tracy Gaudet said.

“That was actually the first question they asked in September was, ‘When do we get our ducks?’” she laughed.

The King George students named their ducks Lemon and Quakers after a vote and the Vincent Massey ones were Jack, Annie and Peanut, named after characters in the Magic Tree House books.

Each class was responsible for taking care of their ducks.

“We let them wander around the classroom,” Hamel-Milligan said. “They are responsible when we put them in the tub of water, they were the ones that put them in there, took them out, when they poop on the floor, they are the ones that clean it up.”

They were also responsible for getting them ready for the night and the next day a new student would be in charge.

All the students embraced the experience and the schools incorporated the raising of them into their science class.

“They have really enjoyed watching them grow,” Gaudet said. “We connected to one of our science units -- our animals growth and change unit. They watched them grow (through) their lifecycle … When we first got them, they were barely 12 hours old, so they see them right from a duckling grow into the size you see in front of you.”

The students also wrote about the ducks, explaining the changes they saw as the ducks grew, about their oil glands and how they protect themselves.

Although the students were excited to release the ducks, they were also a little bit sad.

“There is a lot of sad feelings but we tried to tell them that it is a good thing because now they get to be free and enjoy other ducks and get all the bugs they want,” Hamel-Milligan said.

“They are happy to see them go in the pond but they are sad because they say they are going to miss them,” Gaudet added. “You do get used to having them -- it is just a little chirping noise in the background so it is quite quiet in the classroom once they leave and the kids really notice the difference.”

Two of Gaudet’s students, Leah Roode and Amy Sand, were chosen to release two of the ducks into the pond.

Sand said raising the ducks “was pretty exciting for me” and both agreed they would miss the ducks.

Everyone appreciated watching the ducks play and paddle in the pond once released.

“It is an extremely exciting day,” Cody said. “All the kids and seniors come out … The seniors really enjoy it and the children, of course as you can see, are jumping around and having fun and that is what it is all about.”

Organizations: King George School, Vincent Massey Community School, The King Magic Tree House

Geographic location: Memorial Gardens

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