"Duck Parade" annual tradition for Staley Upper Elementary School

By WKTV News

ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Staley Upper Elementary School in Rome was built in 1958 on wetlands, and that might explain how a tradition started there many years ago.

Every year, ducks fly into the courtyard at Staley and build their nests. "They always hatch underneath the ledges," says Wayne Carrick, Senior Custodian. "It's like a safe haven for them. Every year they come back."

The ducklings hatch, but there's a problem! The ducklings can't fly out. That's where the "Quack Pack" comes in. "We used to have to round them up because they never pecked at the door before," said Rosalie Oliver, Cook Manager at Staley. She's retiring at the end of the year after 35 years with the district. She doesn't remember a year when the ducks were not there. But she does remember the year they started pecking at the door when it was time to fly the coop. "One year she just started pecking at the door and we opened the door and with the ducklings she went out, turned left, like she knew where she had to go-- and right out the door," said Oliver.

So every year when the mother duck taps on the glass, the group of workers open the door and the ducks waddle right down the hallway, and out the door on their way to the creek down the road. Normally, there is more than one duck family that nests in the courtyard. This year there were three with lots of babies! "One had 16, one had 11 and one had 9 babies," said Randy Felker, Custodian.

For one of those "Duck Parades" to the creek, the 5th and 6th graders take part. "We get the kids ready, line them up in the hallway and show them something that other kids don't get a chance to see," said Carrick. "And we open up the doors and walk them out and they walk down to the river by themselves and they're free!"

"When the kids learn that the ducks have returned to the school yard it's giant school event," said David DeProspero, Discipline Supervisor.

The teachers use it as a learning tool, to teach about environment and natural habitat. "It teaches the kids a lot of things about nature and how the ducks come in here and lay their eggs and the males are always in here," said Claudia Taylor, Custodian. "It's really teaching the kids a lot, too."

So how does this Staley tradition keep happening year after year? "I think it's one of the ducklings and it comes back and realizes it's a safe place to be and generation after generation we think comes back and they re-hatch and bring their families out," said Carrick.

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