Rodney Graham, one the creators of the chicken coop and garden project along with Cameron Randolph, hope students become more aware of the work that goes into producing food.
Submitted by RHMS student Zoe Bair; photos courtesy of Katie Cranston and Abby Schriefer
Where can you usually find chickens? At the farm. In wildlife. Probably at the butcher. However, would you ever imagine chickens at school?
In May, Rocky Heights Middle School (RHMS) built its very own chicken coop. Student Lauryn Scott said, “I think it's a good idea to have a chicken coop. This idea will help connect the kids to the school's community. What a great way to start off the new school year with chickens straggling around near the school garden.”
The thought of chickens first surfaced last year. Language Arts teacher Rodney Graham and eStem, technology and ePub teacher Cameron Randolph, who are the overseers for the garden project, decided to bring chickens to the school for multiple reasons. “I like the idea of kids in science class, culinary arts and many other classes understanding what goes into growing and producing healthy food,” said Graham. “Chickens were the next step in the evolution of the garden program.”
The chicken coop was built and designed by Tuff Shed, and last year they came and built the coop within a day. Then, over the summer, the chicken run was set up by the school district. At first, the coop was an empty shed, but with some adjustments, including electricity, an electronic chicken door, insulating and paneling, nesting boxes, and a roost, it was transformed into a great coop.
Many people have been involved with building the coop including Graham, Randolph, Daren Brown, the Parent Community Alliance, school administration, and some of RHMS’ own students. The construction was funded by magazine sales, donations and money from the eStem budget.
Volunteer students help maintain the garden and chicken coop, which has electricity, an electric chicken door, nesting boxes and a roost.
RHMS currently has a variety of chickens, including a Golden Laced Wyandotte, a Red Star, a Rhode Island Mix, a Old White Mix, a White Easter Egger, a Black Easter Egger, a Yellow Ameraucana, a Golden Laced Cochin, an Ameraucana, and, finally, a Rhode Island Red. All of the chickens are female.
Some students at RHMS are also excited about the chicken coop. Katie Fornelius said, “I think getting the chicken coop was a good idea. At first it seemed a little random, but then as I thought about it, I discovered it could be really cool. It could really benefit our school in many different ways, including having our own eggs.”
Madeline Conrad agreed with Fornelius. “I thought it was really cool that we have some chickens in our school, but what I think is really cool about it is that we’re able to make our own food. Also, it will be really good for students to take care of the chickens and help with them. I think it's a really cool and good idea that will hopefully last a long time at Rocky Heights for future kids.”
Hopefully, the RHMS students will appreciate the chickens and realize the world is changing, and they will be thankful for the food they have. Graham said, “When we realize the work that goes into our food, I hope that it makes us not just more appreciative and empathic, but also more aware of future issues and challenges.”