Duckling parade captivates kindergartners at Prairie Mountain School

Every year, Prairie Mountain School ushers ducklings through the halls as they move out of the courtyard. Image from NBC News video

EUGENE, Ore. – It’s a springtime tradition at Prairie Mountain School.

This year, 13 ducklings held a parade through the halls and the kids came flocking to see them waddle by.

For more than a decade, the school courtyard has served as a safe nesting spot for ducks and has given students a lesson to nurture nature.

“I think they really understand it's their job to protect these little baby ducklings that are hatched here at our school,” said Athena Imholt, Prairie Mountain School kindergarten teacher.

Custodian Mark Payne doubles as the duck keeper. He guides them outside to the nearby wetlands to find water and freedom.

“Tugs at your heart, and very endearing, actually it's one of the highlights of my year to be honest,” Payne said.

The ducklings are too small to fly. So when it’s time to leave the nest in the interior yard, they get a special procession and a sendoff from the kindergarten class.

Not a peep slips from the children’s mouths as they listen for what’s coming down the hall.

Wonderment sweeps over them as they see the ducklings marching behind their mother to their new, permanent home.

Hidden behind another hedge in the courtyard, 11 more eggs wait to hatch.

For these lucky kindergartners, spring is about to come a second time.

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