MILTON — The Glover Elementary School here welcomed 11 new arrivals Tuesday — wings, webbed feet, and all.
They didn’t stay long — around eight minutes — but their presence marked the return of a beloved spring tradition: the Duck Walk.
During the walk, a mother mallard led her babies through the school halls to nearby Turner Pond as students — ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade — eagerly watched.
“It started about a decade ago when the first mother showed up in our courtyard,” said principal Karen McDavitt. “At first, we had to figure out how to get the ducklings to water. Once we had that figured out, it became a learning opportunity for the kids. Now, it’s our most special tradition.”
The biggest challenge is getting the mother to leave the courtyard, a protected area with grass and trees, for a dimly lit hallway filed with students, McDavitt said. So two teachers from the school walked behind the family with a banner, prodding them forward.
Several times she stopped, making sure her ducklings were close behind. But eventually, the adults coaxed them inside.
Students smiled as they watched the procession, their eyes fixed on the yellow and black balls of feathers. They craned their necks for a better look as teachers reminded them to “keep their hands still and bodies quiet.”
Eventually, the family made its way through the school and back outside, where they were surrounded by students. Amid grins and whispers, the ducks hurried along, quacking and chirping the whole way.
From there, the mother carefully guided her babies to the pond, where the ducklings drifted into the water.
Wendy Roth, a volunteer who has one child at the school, smiled as she watched the ducks swim away.
“My kids didn’t realize at first how unique an experience this is. They were shocked when they learned other schools don’t have animals walking through their halls,” Roth said. “It’s a great experience to teach kids about conservation and nature. It’s probably my favorite day of school. Absolutely wonderful.”Andrew Grant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.