by Sarah Kern
On May 1st, we lost our dear Miss Chick to a hawk. To our students, families and teachers, our chickens are a kind of symbol, a trademark of our preschool. The pair – Miss Chick and Fritzie – delighted seniors, teachers, staff, and students alike as they ran about our playground. It’s hard to see Fritzie without her companion.
This has been a shock to our community. Logically, we understand that the hawk who killed her needed food for her babies; her death was not senseless. But our hearts are sad.
In talking to the children about this loss, we have been honest. The children had a range of responses. Some openly wept, others remained quiet, and some seemed to have little interest at all. All of these reactions are normal, and they don’t necessarily indicate how sad each child really is. Like adults, children process loss in their own way and on their own time.
Some worried about hawks, asking “What else can a hawk carry away?” For some, it was hard to understand why we couldn’t bury her like we did our original Miss Chick, who died in 2013. Several worried about Fritzie – how she would manage without her friend, how we would protect her from hawks.
The teachers share these worries. For now, we are only taking Fritzie out when the children are out and we have kept her close to us. This week she has enjoyed spending time in new spaces – the woods and the boulders. The children are diligent about keeping an eye on her and scanning the skies for hawks. We don’t know yet about a new chicken; time will tell what’s best for our little school.
To honor Miss Chick, the preschoolers participated in a feather releasing ceremony. Each child held a feather, gathered from the playground after her death, and released it into the wind. The children talked about what they loved about her and sang songs to honor her. One noted, “Miss Chick laid beautiful eggs.” Another perhaps summed it up best – “Miss Chick – I really love her and she died.”