Ducks in Bozeman High

A mother duck takes her ducklings on a shortcut through the halls of Bozeman High School in this still image from a May 8, 2017, video posted online by ViralHog.

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In a case of life imitating art, Bozeman High School has its own live version of “Make Way for Ducklings.”

A mother duck hatched her ducklings in the high school’s enclosed Hawk courtyard again this spring.

When the ducklings are ready to leave the courtyard, the mother duck taps on the courtyard door with her bill until someone opens the door, said Erica Schnee, a high school assistant principal.

Schnee posted a video of the ducks Monday on Facebook and by Tuesday it had been seen more than 250,000 times.

The video shows the mother mallard leading a dozen fluffy ducklings down the school hallway, past the guidance office, cafeteria and principal’s office, and out the front door toward Mandeville Creek.

“It’s an annual ritual,” Principal Kevin Conwell said. “It’s pretty cute.”

Like the Boston policemen in “Make Way for Ducklings,” the classic 1941 children’s book by Robert McCloskey, Bozeman High teachers Glenn Bradbury and Jacob Malczyk, Dean Carl Neely and school police officer Nate Gaukler can be seen clearing the way for the ducklings as they scamper down the hall behind their mother.

“The students, they just think it’s adorable,” Conwell said.

This has been going on for at least six years, Schnee said. The mother duck apparently knows the courtyard is safe and free of predators.

Schnee graduated from Bozeman High in 1992, and back then there weren’t any duckling parades, probably because the courtyard was open to the street and less protected.

Bozeman High received national attention in 2015 when a slightly confused black bear wandered into its Long Hall, sniffed at some lockers, eyed the principal and then fled out a door and east into the neighborhood — a wildlife visitation that also became a popular video.

Asked if the ducks might be competing with the bears for the chance to be named the mascot of Bozeman’s new, second high school, Conwell said, “That could be. You never know.”

Schnee said it seemed “crazy” but fun that so many people had watched her duckling video.

“I guess people just are looking for some happy news to make them smile,” she said.

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Gail Schontzler can be reached at 406-582-2633 or gails@dailychronicle.com.

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