AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Three chickens are still missing from the coop of Austintown Fitch High School principal Chris Berni.
But he said he does not want the actions of a few students to taint the public’s view of the school district.
Berni said every morning before school, he goes out to his chicken coop to let the eight chickens out to feed them and give them water. But on Tuesday, something was amiss.
“Today, the fence was already open and one chicken was outside the hen house. When I went around to the other side, the man door was open and four chickens were gone,” Berni said in a telephone interview.
He said he found an empty Budweiser can in the yard, leading him to believe some students took the chickens.
“I think it was probably three or four kids who did not agree with decisions I made regarding graduation activities,” Berni said.
Berni said he arrived at school early on Tuesday because it was the last day for seniors and there was an annual cookout in the parking lot. He said he told a group of students what happened and asked them to keep their ears open to rumors about the missing fowl.
“One student said he saw a burlap bag with something moving inside by the baseball field. I went to check it out and one of my hens was inside the bag. It was not injured,” Berni said.
Three of the missing chickens have not been found, but Berni said the story still has a happy ending. He said a large group of seniors was so outraged about the incident that they started collecting money from students and staff to buy Berni new chickens.
“I told them they did not have to do that, but they really want to,” Berni said. “It is a really sad situation, but it provided an opportunity to show the positives of the district,” Berni said.
He said there are 380 seniors graduating from Fitch High School and he thinks only three or four were involved in the theft.
“This is not a reflection of the student body,” Berni said. “In fact, what the kids are doing to help me shows that they care and that is truly what it means to be a Falcon.”
He said he has been raising chickens for four years as a hobby, sharing the eggs with family and friends.
The incident still is under investigation by the Austintown Police Department and the school district’s resource officer.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Austintown police at 330-792-8584.