French Class presents: Duck, Duck… Duck?


Stephanie Chen

Liem Rao (’23), Alana O’Neill (’23), and Kaya Shaw (’22) smile with some ducks both off and new, with James Pond front and center on the podium. These three French 2 students, along with Megan Manganaro (’23), Khalil Towns (’23), and Alex Enaci (’23), helped bring in the newest batch of rubber ducks.

Liem Rao, Reporter

One would think that finding rubber ducks in a school building would be extremely unusual. With their semi-distracting squeakers, bright yellow bodies, and a seemingly waste of space, these ducks are highly discouraged by teachers. Yet, hidden amongst the various items in the French room is an immense amount of such ducks. The ducks were brought in last year by Ben Seegert (‘20). As Seegert explains, it all started when “Madame showed us this video of some Twitter dude, who filled up his bathroom with rubber ducks.”

Originally, Madame had a few rubber ducks which she had received from the librarian Mr. Paese, who had kept the ducks for book club, to use in a duck pond. Once he could no longer keep the duck pond going, he gave them to Madame, for her to maintain the book club. After the book club came to an end, Madame kept the ducks sitting by her pencil sharpener. In her French 4 class, Seegert, as well as some other students would “sharpen their pencils” to take ducks to put on their desks. As this became a distraction in class, Madame was frustrated and made the rule to prevent students from taking the ducks. After being forbidden from taking Madame’s ducks, and being inspired by the video Madame showed them, they planned to bring their own ducks.

Together with his peers, Seegert ordered 100 basic rubber ducks from Amazon. During class, he and his co-conspirators set up the ducks in any open spot in the classroom they could find: on window ledges, on top of the blackboard, on top of the SMART board, in the white board marker tray, and on the podium. To this, the French instructor Madame Mann says, “I decided to ignore it, but not to encourage it, because if I got upset about it, it would only get worse. Little did I know I was encouraging it nonetheless, because the ducks kept moving around.”

Now the gifting of ducks began. Shortly after, Catya Petrovic (‘21) walked into class with a medium-sized, fall-themed rubber duck. The duck was bestowed the name “Charlatan.” Later during a winter celebration crepe party, Seegert, on behalf of the class, gifted Madame a large rubber duck complete with a neatly tied bow of red ribbon as an early Christmas gift. To welcome the newest member of the rubber duck population, Seegert gathered up all of the remaining ducks (some had disappeared mysteriously over time) around the class onto his desk. After posing in his impromptu duck photo booth, Seegert placed the large duck in its new home: Madame’s podium. The duck’s name, James Pond, was agreed upon after a short debate.

The ducks quickly became the defining characteristic of the French room. “I love the ducks! I think they are #iconic and add to Madame’s already nicely decorated classroom,” said Yara Hamadeh (‘19). Hamadeh was inspired to add to the rubber animal decor. During a White Elephant exchange in the last Lancer Link before winter break, she received a bunch of small, rubber pigs. She promptly donated these pigs to the French room. “I decided to decorate Madame’s room with them to follow suit with the ducks,” said Hamadeh.

Now, almost one year after the first batch of ducks were brought in, Kaya Shaw (‘22), along with his French 2 class, has contributed another 100 rubber ducks, this time each with a unique style, amounting to about 240 rubber creatures within the French classroom. As the number of iconic rubber ducks continues to increase, what started as a fun prank is quickly becoming a French class tradition. Even Madame Mann, formerly stunned by the rising population of ducks in her classroom has come to accept the iconic symbol. “It is as if these ducks are proliferating somewhere, and I can’t see it,” she exclaims.