Students at Sunbury West Middle School in Fredericton Junction are now on summer break and will be back this fall — but two feathered members of a science project are graduating.
Lawrence the chicken and Daisy McDuckerson, a miniature mallard duck, were part of a middle school science project. The results were unexpected.
Lawrence, one of 10 chickens to hatch, formed a bond with Daisy, the only duck. The two have become an inseparable duo.
"They became instant buddies," explained science teacher Gisele Belyea. "They would cuddle together and fluff each other up. The chicken has become completely obsessed with the duck. It follows it everywhere, has to protect it and the duck just loves it too. They go for little walks up and down the hall together."
The two birds also follow Belyea through the halls, staying on her heels as she walks through crowds of students.
"They still do stuff that they learn in the wild which is cool to me," said Grade 6 student Samantha Robichaud. "I learned that ducks take longer to hatch than chickens."
The project, now in its second year, is very hands-on. Students not only care, nurture and feed the animals, they also use them to teach the younger children at the school.
"I taught grade two, everybody in my class had a class to teach," said student Maddie Harnish.
"It was to tell them facts about the duck and chicken. Then we did crafts with them and then we'd bring them up to here to hold them and give them a chance to pet them."’
Some students discovered hidden talents, earning them nicknames.
"Chicken-Whisperer," admitted student Evan Castonguay, "Because when everybody else would hold the chickens they would freak out and start chirping like really crazy loud and whenever I'd hold them they'd calm down, and fall asleep."
When students are away on weekends, the feathered friends go home with Belyea. They needs lots of care, she said.
The unlikely relationship earned the two friends an extended stay at the Fredericton Junction school. The other nine chicks went back to the farm where they were laid.
"Watching them develop was awesome. They got their feathers and that's when we realized that Daisy was a girl," said Belyea. "Females aren't as colourful as the males."
The last day of class for students brings a graduation of sorts for the chick and the duck.Their school days over, they will also be going home to the farm where they hatched.