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Learning takes flight at Cainhoy Elementary

Published Thursday, January 24, 2019

Students sat quietly in metal chairs as vultures took over the multipurpose area at Cainhoy Elementary Thursday. As the large birds navigated the floor and air space of the room, it was clear they were nervous but intrigued.

The students, though some were fidgeting in their seats, were mostly excited. After all, learning at Cainhoy Elementary has been for the birds this year – literally.

Thursday’s feathered friends flapped their way around the school as a part of a visit from The Center for the Birds of Prey. Their special appearance was a small piece to a much larger educational experience.

This year The Avian Conservation Center (The Center for the Birds of Prey) received a $12,500 grant from BP American and a $20,000 grant from the Daniel Island Community Fund to provide a “Year of The Bird” program at Cainhoy Elementary.

As a part of the program, educators at Cainhoy spent weeks during the summer at the center, learning about birds, so they could re-enter classrooms with lessons infused with avian facts and conservation concerns.

Now with half the school year under its belt, Cainhoy boasts a student body that’s affluent in large bird knowledge – from the youngest students to the oldest. The turkey vulture and black vulture brought into the multipurpose room were the cap on a lesson focused specifically on vultures and STEAM activities designed to provoke discussion on what the world would be like without vultures.

“Everybody’s got a role, and when you disrupt one role, it affects others,” said Stephen Schabel of The Center for the Birds of Prey.

Schabel believes no person is too young to begin learning about birds and their importance. He said in his time educating others, he’s learned small children will absorb the knowledge just as easily as adults. Getting people excited about birds and understating the importance they play in nature is his goal each day. In the case of Cainhoy Elementary, he said there’s an opportunity to better educate an entire community.

“This is not the first time these kids have seen us, and it won’t be the last,” Schabel said.

Large birds can be seen in the air near Cainhoy Elementary every day. Children often see them while outside for recess or other activities. School media specialist Ashley Illig said that’s what makes the opportunity with The Center for Birds of Prey even more special.

“I think these kids, some of them already know the impact they (large birds) make. By the end of this, they (all) are going to know for sure. That’s our goal,” Illig said.

As a part of the program, students will also have an opportunity to visit The Avian Conservation Center and other places were large birds can be observed.

Brian Troutman
troutmanb@bcsdschools.net