Students had a front row seat watching the miracle of birth when a pregnant doe deer gave birth to two fauns in the courtyard of their Peace River middle school.
The secluded courtyard the doe chose also happens to be named in memory of Shannon Wyngarten, a male student who passed away of heart failure at the school in 1991, making the experience even more special for staff, students and the local community.
“When staff got here at 8 am we could tell that a deer was in Shannon’s Garden,” says Joan Blench, T.A. Norris office manager. “Someone, some very intuitive person realized this deer was not just there munching grass and that something was about to happen.”
Staff ensured that students entered by a different door away from the courtyard, and at lunch time outdoor supervisors kept children away from the area, which was also cordoned off with tape.
Grade 4 students from Springfield Elementary happened to be visiting that day. T.A. Norris has the local elementary students stop by regularly to “shadow” the older grade to get them used to the school before they arrive for classes in fall, so T.A.Norris school principal Wade Johnson made the surprise event a part of their school tour.
Students from both schools were able to watch the entire birth from windows in the school hallway that look out over the courtyard.
“They were just in total awe watching,” Blench says. “It was a special treat for them as well.”
“You could tell the mom was aware that she was on candid camera, so we didn’t want to stress her out in any way,” Blench says. “We made sure that in the hallway, the kids were really quiet because the deer have such good hearing. We told the students if they made any noise they had to leave, so they knew they had to stand at that window and watch super quietly.”
“It was like being at an aquarium and looking at the whales, having this deer right in front of us give birth to two babies. We watched everything. The doe did go into the bushes a little bit, so you couldn’t see as much when the deer actually were born. You could see, but she was hiding a bit,” Blench says.
“We saw the baby deer wobble to get up. We would see them stand and fall, stand and fall, as their front legs would buckle because they were so fresh and weak. All day we would pass by and see how are the deer were doing. Gradually they were drying off. You could see Mom licking them and taking them for a little walk.”
Although no one is sure of the gender of the fauns, the school has temporarily named the fawns Thomas and Alvin after the school’s namesake, Thomas Alvin Norris.
During the night, the deer left. Principal Johnson was able to check the school’s security cameras and found footage of the mother walking off with the new babies at 4:55 am
“We would welcome them back anytime because they were so much fun to watch, and we do hope to see them again. Maybe she will give birth here again if she had a good experience. Wouldn’t that be wonderful!” Blench says.