The Peabody Memphis hotel has nothing on Whetstone High School when it comes to marching ducks.

The longstanding tradition at the Tennessee hotel sees mallards waddle daily from their rooftop home to a fountain in the lobby. At Whetstone, a mama duck and her ducklings are carefully escorted from the school's courtyard with the help of barricades and building staff, Principal Janet Routzong said.

"It takes a couple of science teachers," she said. "We do it all here. It's really cool."

Routzong used the story of the mother duck returning year in and year out to lay her eggs in Whetstone's courtyard to help illustrate what she feels is special about the school during the Brave the Future gathering for future Braves and their parents on Jan. 25.

Now in its third year, the event -- initially scheduled Jan. 17 but postponed due to that day's snow and bitter cold -- offers youngsters in Whetstone's feeder schools the opportunity to tour the building, attend an academic fair in the library or an activities and athletics fair in the cafeteria, hear musical entertainment in the lobby or become acquainted with parent organizations.

"It's great to meet our prospective ninth-graders and their families," Routzong, in her sixth year as principal, said in her introductory remarks. "I cannot imagine having any other role in Columbus City Schools."

One of the reasons for that, she said, is she regards high school as an "awesome experience."

"It's where young people really begin to grow," Routzong said.

Longtime social studies teacher Alison Lewis also addressed those assembled in the auditorium.

"I can say from a teacher's perspective, I couldn't work with better colleagues," she said. "We have a very strong PTA that's always willing to step up and help."

Lewis then introduced two seniors who talked about their experiences at Whetstone and the various activities in which they've been involved.

Jamie Bossenbroek, who grew up in Clintonville, spoke of the pleasure of being in the classroom with students she's known since grade school.

"There are so many things to do," she said.

Rayshon Walker, who got into Whetstone via the district's lottery, said he selected it after looking for someplace with "teachers who care about the students."

"There are so many opportunities here at Whetstone," he said.