BELLINGHAM - It was a farewell party of sorts for Larrabee Elementary students as they set free their young salmon into Padden Creek, Wednesday, March 27.
The release was the culmination of a 12-week salmon science lesson for Larrabee kindergarteners through second-graders and Happy Valley kindergarteners who were releasing their fish throughout the week.
On Wednesday morning, students in Kelly Glynn's first- and second-grade class waved and said enthusiastic goodbyes as the little salmon fry hit the water.
"I think it's cool because the salmon finally get to swim around outside of the aquarium," said second-grader Amber Erbes, who named her fish Polka Dot before sliding it into the water.
The salmon science project has included lessons about habitats, life cycles, fish anatomy and conservation and restoration, as well as guest speakers.
"They look forward to it every week," Glynn said. "Usually it's on Thursday, and they're like, 'Is it salmon Thursday?'"
First-grader Alden Edison said he's enjoyed watching the salmon grow over 12 weeks from eggs into silvery little fry, and he had a lot of fun releasing them. Fellow first-grader Gavin Allen said the lessons helped teach him to let fish be and not to litter.
That kind of stewardship is a big part of the project, said Larrabee Principal Kate Baehr.
"I think being able to care for our local ecology, to be connected to it, when they're asked to conserve water, they know why. When they're asked not to litter, they know why," Baehr said. "I think it helps build that understanding of how we affect the broader world."
As the students released the fish, they gave them names - Awesome, Silver and Chewbacca, to name a few - and made wishes for their little fish. Second-grader Grace Wilson's was simple.
"I hope it'll have a good life."