God loves his peeps

LEWISTOWN – They’re here just in time for Easter.

Seven yellow chicks bask in the glow of a heat lamp in the back of the kindergarten classroom at Sacred Heart School. The students who hatched them watch intently.

When teacher Lorie Torquato asks one student to pick up a chick for a picture, the whole class erupts with excitement. It seems hard for the students to hold back – they’ve waited all month for the eggs to hatch.

This is the second time Torquato has hatched eggs in her classroom. She said the project ties into science, literature and religion studies at the school. During the 21-day incubation period, Torquato’s class read a bookshelf full of chicken-and egg-related books and studied a curriculum about living things. Even more, Torquato said the project relates to the message of Easter.

“Jesus gives us life,” and the chick project is a great hands-on example of the life cycle for young students, she explained.

In the beginning of March, the classroom received a small white incubator containing 27 chicken eggs. The incubator was maintained at 99 to 102 degrees and 36 to 40 percent humidity throughout the 21-day gestation cycle. At the beginning of the week, the eggs started to hatch.

“It’s very strenuous getting out of the egg,” said Tom Storm, SHS janitor who helped with the chicks’ care.

Chicks are usually kept in the incubator until their feathers dry and they have recovered from hatching, he explained.

When the first chick hatched, he said the lone peep came over and sat in his hand. Six more chicks hatched shortly after the first, and now a group of seven are gathered in a large tub at the back of the classroom.

As of Wednesday morning, the last 20 eggs were still incubating. Storm said he checks them every day before school and watches for the eggs to start rocking back and forth. Usually that’s a sign the chick will hatch soon, he said.

Second grade students who were involved in the first egg-hatching project two years ago also are participating in follow-up activities related to this year’s hatch. Torquato said the chicks will only stay through Easter weekend, then return to the farm of Trevor and Tracy Miller, who donated supplies for the project.