Third grader Alessia Pollino cares for the four chickens that live in a coop outside Woodstock School. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

WOODSTOCK — Karen, Dora, Betsy and Fluffy are not Woodstock school students, they are chickens living in the coop between the school’s yurt and compost bin.

For nine-year old Alessia Pollino, who attends the Woodstock School, the coop is like another classroom.

It is where the third grader starts everyday after a trip to the office to get the egg basket and water. She explains that the bales of hay nearby are to line the bottom of the coop. She points out their feeding trough, too.

“I got this job one day when I came early [to school] and had nothing to do. The principal [Beth Clarke] asked me, ‘Alessia, do you want to help me with the chickens?'”

“I have been doing it ever since,” she says proudly.

Third grader Alessia Four chickens live in a coop at The Woodstock School. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

She introduces other children to the job, in part to have someone monitor the door so the chickens don’t sneak out, as they did one morning. That day they had to find a teacher to help coral them.


Recently, Pollino said she could hear a scratching sound during a composting presentation with her classmates. She went over to the coop and helped a chicken who had her tail stuck in the door.

“I have always had a connection with animals,” she said.

Alessia Pollino emerges from the coop where four chickens live at the Woodstock School. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

She quietly feeds, waters, and sometimes pats the fully grown hens.  She said it scares the chickens when kids sometimes yell at them but acknowledges that other kids will come out at recess and quietly sit near the chickens.

“This [coop] is really connected to the school,” she said.

The Woodstock chickens will be going home with another student this week when school ends for the year.

“I’m excited to see how much they change over the summer,” said Pollino.

The golf ball in the foreground deters the hens from pecking their laid eggs. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen

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