Rutherford County Schools

September 14, 2022

By JAMES EVANS
Rutherford County Schools

Outside the school on the Homer Pittard campus on Friday morning, there was a scene that some might call eerie.

It started with a group of proud kindergarten students, followed by first grade, second grade and so on.

Some wore hats that looked like chickens, others displayed handmade posters of chickens, and all sported big smiles.

A teacher or parent volunteer from each group confidently carried a real hen, while other parents lined the road in front of the school, cheering on their children and taking pictures.

The event was dubbed the “Campus School Chicken Parade” and was meant to celebrate the return of one of students’ favorite enrichment programs.

The chicken project has been a staple of Campus School for many years. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the program had to be halted and the original chickens were adopted.

But thanks to the efforts of many, the program has returned to everyone’s delight.

The hens live in a chicken coop on the school’s kindergarten yard, and in addition to playing and petting them, students will eventually be responsible for their care and upkeep.

“Right now I’m supervising them making sure the hens have fresh food and water every day, and collecting the eggs,” said kindergarten teacher Melissa Flowers, who led the program for years with his fellow teachers. “They also wrap the eggs in the cartons for our True Blue Celebration giveaways. Eventually, the children will take the lead in caring for the chickens.

The school’s parent-teacher club played an “instrumental” role in bringing the original project to fruition, and they funded the cost of the original herd and building the co-op, Flowers said. The PTC then helped support the restart of the project, funding an addition to the co-op and the necessary supplies.

But everyone contributed.

School Resource Officer Kerry Nelson made repairs to the co-op, and a former campus school family helped build an addition. Flowers worked with Windy Willette, the little animal science teacher at Blackman High, last spring to get new chicks from a sweet and friendly breed.

Each class adopted a chicken and chose a name. The chickens are Bubbles, Marshmallow, Dolly, Nugget, Pepper and finally, Princess Laya.

To support the project, the school is soliciting donations for food and supplies, and parents have signed up to keep the project going during holidays and weekends.

“The animal science program at MTSU is always helpful and now we also have the BHS animal science program on board,” Flowers said. “It’s really been a community effort.”

Campus School is one of eight elective school programs offered by Rutherford County Schools.

The school building is owned by Middle Tennessee State University, and the academic program is a partnership between the school district and the university. The school serves as a lab school for the university, and education majors work alongside campus school teachers to hone their classroom skills and provide additional resources for students.

The school prides itself on cultivating relationships and providing experiences for students, said Principal Sherry King.

The chicken project is an example of such opportunities.

“It’s unique in the way the community comes together, it’s such a special thing,” King said. “They all take care of the chickens and the kids have these hands-on experiences with the chickens. It’s like being part of a big family.

It’s part of the school’s culture, King and Flowers said, adding that students become very attached to the chickens in addition to just caring for them.

In fact, it’s not uncommon to see students riding down a toboggan or riding a tricycle while holding the chickens.

“Kids love chickens,” Flowers said. “They really become part of the classroom and the school community. They are like our pets. It’s really adorable how much the kids love them.

PICTURES / JAMES EVANS

(1) Students, parents and staff held a parade on Friday to show off their new flock of chickens. Each class named a chicken for a total of six.

(2) Kindergarten teacher Melissa Flowers holds bubbles. Kindergarten children will learn how to care for and maintain chickens throughout the school year.

(3) Six in all, the new Campus School hens are Bubbles, Marshmallow, Dolly, Nugget, Pepper and Princess Laya.

Comments are closed.