For the first time there's a loft in school. In the early days went unnoticed but would soon be visited by the great majority of the school population between 10 and 13 years. Interestingly the loft not attracted the attention of the 9th grade, it is clear that the interest decreases rapidly from the 7th grade. This movement resulted in 38 entries in the school Pigeon Club. It was very stimulating to check that the loft was almost always sold out in each interval.
There were some movie sessions about pigeons making use of several videos about the origin, genetics, orientation capability, sport and hobby of several breeds of pigeons to give a real idea of the importance that the pigeon has always had for mankind and to many men in particular.
From the beginning the kids were never channelled only to pigeon racing. When the interest in this aspect became clear they were alerted to the fact that the coming years will be devoted to gain experience in feeding and training before they can enter in competition against much more experienced fanciers. Sending to a race is a act of responsibility and their mistakes are not harmless.
The next problem would be the coordination of pigeons care between so many students. We had 10 babies for them. It was decided among them the distribution of the pigeons. Each group could only feed and fly those who were under their care. In theory all very nice, but in practice functioned poorly because almost every day a kid resolved to deal with some who were not in his care. A confusion that created some conflicts between them.
It could work better?. Well, yes if it could be possible to have someone in the loft more times during the day. My visits were according to my free time (not every day I can be there), so the loft was always open. Initially I tried to give keys but quickly abandoned the idea because the keys were always losing and I had many complaints by new visits that the loft was closed. At the end of each day I went to check if everything was okay and correct some errors.
The young pigeons suffered a lot in the hands of the kids. Feathers soon became very tired, broken etc. Most wanted them to react like dogs or cats, and went for a walk with them throughout the school. After a while they organized contests from the school entrance :). So much that reminded me of my early days. It was awesome to see how the pigeon continues to attract so many. Things that will certainly be in memory of many of them for a long time.
When they were three months old we organized some workouts whose arrival was made to coincide with the largest interval in the morning. Rapidly they organized some form of gambling, nature?, and when I was dragged to the game soon I lost some gums.
The idea was never to have a school loft competing in a club. For me is a wrong way to introduce the pigeon because it assumes that we teach the new generation the essential error of the past: too many pigeons are required to perform a season, and that is why we have a small loft with ten pigeons. Being worried for several months with competition does not allow most kids to be focused in school, so it is a responsibility that a project like this should seek to alleviate. Despite all precautions some kids get to much addicted and due to poor school outcomes parents decide to punish them with a prohibition to visit the loft.
I also try to keep them away from fanciers to avoid the many nonsensical teachings that from these may come until they have a chance to list what science has to say about pigeons. They must use what they learn in school to separate the wheat from the chaff. If in doubt they should consult the science teacher.
At the end of the 1st year were offered 60 rings and 24 old pigeons. In the 3rd period the school pigeons has raised youngsters to offer to those who were interested. This effort resulted in six potential candidates to proceed to the next phase: to learn how to train their own pigeons and start their apprenticeship.
We are now at the beginning of the 1st period of the 2012/2013 academic year. We held a meeting to set the school calendar of competition and the rules in view of the good sports ethics. After discussion it was concluded that the fancier championship would be played with one designated pigeon and the remaining pigeons would count only for the pigeon championship. At the end they decided that we don't have a sport but a hobby, so we don't need so strict rules to give the same chance to everyone as in football. Three kids have parental consent to enter this phase. This week the kids started bringing their yearlings to school to train, and has been quite fun. Today, October 23, the arrival in one loft was reported live because in the loft in question was a mother suffering with the arrival of the first train. In some cases the parents got addicted :).
At the weekend they participated in a bird Exhibition. On the opening day the primary schools visited the exhibition and pigeons were very successful because they were the only ones with permission to be handled by visitors. It was very positive. Certainly they will invade the loft when they arrive at the High School. Also a Professor in the 1st Cycle approached me asking me "why not a loft also in the 1st Cycle?". Surely this conversation will continue, but I still do not know if it will be a good idea to have the pigeons in the 1st cycle. The novelty factor is lost, and at these ages pigeons can not be delivered to kids without running risks of life, but some pigeons liberation during the year can be arranged for them, to keep the flame burning.
This year the new 5th grade students has started to visit the loft and the cycle repeats itself, but this year with a much smaller number of participants since the initial curiosity is blurred in most of the first batch. It is true that a greater number of pigeons in the loft keep more students interested, but the fact remains that my free time is not enough to follow many demands. In the end things tend to balance both sides. Otherwise would be unsustainable. Anyway today, October 24, two 5th grade students presented the plan to build their lofts and they have parental support which is essential.
The school has yet another loft in partnership with a university in which they carry out studies on the orientation of the pigeon. We have begun to introduce the kids to research and after the first year I think we are now in a better position to further open this world to the curiosity of the school community. It is a unique opportunity for kids to put their questions directly to professionals.
This report attempts be a source of information for those who think to start a project of this type. I hope there are more initiatives with this philosophy. Believe, it worth the effort.
In the end here are some pictures of lofts as well as their evolution over this year and that certainly will not stop: