a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Ducklings in the news

When schoolteachers contact the newsroom where I work, they often do so to complain that our reporters or photographers missed their assembly, book reading or tea party. So it was a cool surprise to receive an email a few weeks ago from a third grade teacher in Canonsburg, Pa., who used a story that I wrote as a teaching tool in her classroom.
Kathleen Durko and her students at Canon-McMillan School District’s South Central Elementary School were reading a Japanese story about the rescue of ducklings at the same time that I was assigned to write a corny little story about construction workers freeing baby ducks that had become trapped in a storm sewer in Washington, Pa.
Mrs. Durko’s class was reading about a photographer, Sato-san, in Chiba, Japan, who stopped traffic to allow a mother duck and her 10 ducklings to safely cross the street to reach the emperor’s garden.
At the same time, my duck story appeared in the “Observer-Reporter” about stonemasons who took a break from building a new pharmacy to remove a drain cover and reunite ducklings that were waddling in sewer water with their mother.
Mrs. Durko did not hesitate to incorporate both stories into her lesson. She then assigned her children to draw pictures of the ducklings in Japan and Washington with colored pencils, and write a story comparing the two good deeds.
A copy of their project landed on my desk the other day. Children’s art is always sweet, and their creations often look good enough for a frame. It’s also reassuring to hear that teachers who are keen on current events still use newspapers to encourage their students to pay attention to the world around them. Thanks.

The duckling story from the Observer-Reporter is below:

A family of baby ducks were lucky to have union builders looking out for their safety Friday.

Stonemasons, carpenters and laborers took a break from their jobs building a Walgreens in Washington to pull the 10 tiny chicks from the base of a street sewer, where they had become trapped.

"The mother flew and came to them once she heard the squawking," said carpenter Randy Rouse of Uniontown, who was among those involved in the rescue.

Washington firefighters also were called to the sewer at the bottom end of East Beau Street after a woman discovered the desperate ducks about 12:30 p.m. The fire department turned back after realizing the workers had the situation in hand.

The ducks were of such small size that they apparently fell through the steel grating covering the street drain, Rouse said.

When the stonemasons broke for lunch, they brought heavy equipment to the drain powerful enough to hoist the grating and free the ducks. Rouse said he supplied the strap needed to connect the drain cover to the heavy equipment's front claw.

Once free, the baby ducks waddled off with their mother.

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