Cuddly donkeys cheer up Sippican School students

Jun 1, 2020

MARION — She may need a boat to get home, but Sippican School instrumental teacher Hannah Moore can still use her two donkeys, Nancy and Peggy, to cheer up students from afar on Ram Island in Sippican Harbor.

While the building is closed through the end of the year, the school holds optional Zoom sessions throughout the week where teachers and students can have fun and interact with each other. 

“It’s been a fun thing to share,” Moore said.

Moore walks around the island she was born on with the friendly donkeys trailing behind and chats with the dozen or so students (and sometimes teachers) that drop into the call every week.

Her sessions are especially interesting because she lives on Ram Island, a place she said kids often speculate about.

Moore said the trick to getting the donkeys to follow her is to keep chicken food in her pocket. She doesn’t feed it to the donkeys, but they crave it enough to find it themselves on the farm.

They roam free on the island six months out of the year, and stay in their paddocks for the rest of the time. Sometimes they eat grass, and other times they’ll sneak up and eat the lunch of kayakers, she said.

The donkeys are “very, very fond” of Moore and will even walk into her house if a door is left open. They love to nuzzle up on her and are very affectionate, she said.

The sessions are one of the ways she is connecting with students from afar. 

At this time of year, Moore is usually directing 180 kids for the Marion Memorial Day parade, two concerts, bringing 75 students to a music festival, planning the school’s end-of-year band blast and organizing a trip of 22 students to a multi-day festival after school ends. 

Since Marion’s Memorial Day parade was cancelled, she was able to have her students record instrument parts and edit them together into a video with the help of ORCTV.

But she does miss her classroom.

“My room is a joyful and happy place,” Moore said, and she wants to be with her students once again.

For now, she has Nancy and Peggy to keep her company.