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From Darth Blader to Snowy Chicken, Vermont kids name the state snowplows

KELSEY SNELL, HOST:

Dorito, Yogi, Salty, Steve - would a snowplow by any other name scrape as deep? VTrans, Vermont's Agency of Transportation, might soon have answers. It set out on a very important mission this fall - a naming program for snowplows. The state's students got a chance to name their own local machines. VTrans was inspired by similar contests in Scotland.

EDORAH FRAZER: Over 100 elementary schools participated and they - you can imagine the names that that were generated by the elementary school students of Vermont.

SNELL: That's Edorah Frazer, principal of Robinson Elementary School in Starksboro, and she's not wrong. Vermont's kids got creative. Among the 163 names they chose, there's William Scrapedspeare (ph), Edgar Allan Snow, Snow-be-gone Kenobi. Also Darth Blader (ph), Captain Snow-merica (ph), Jennifer Snow-pez (ph). And yes, yes, I know you've been waiting for this one, Plowy McPlowface. At Robinson Elementary...

FRAZER: After our school-wide vote, the name that rose to the top was Snowy Chicken. It came out of the first grade.

SNELL: Snowy, sure, we get that, as in snowy owl. That would make sense. But Snowy Chicken?

FRAZER: There's some random stuff that comes out of first graders sometimes, and I really don't know what was going through the student's mind who came up with that name, but it was a winner.

SNELL: The state's snow plows were officially named last Wednesday. And at Robinson Elementary, the whole school waited for the arrival of their Snowy Chicken.

FRAZER: We had all the kids sit out in kind of an outdoor amphitheater that we have. And one of our sixth graders just the week before had worn a huge 7-foot inflatable chicken costume. Maybe that's where the name came from, actually. He had worn this huge costume for Halloween, and I asked him if he'd wear it again for this celebration.

SNELL: Principal Frazer says, while fun, the contest has also helped make the kids feel closer with some of the essential workers in their community.

FRAZER: The plow crews, the snow plow drivers arrived. They identified themselves. They were Nick and Steve. We know that now. And they stood with us at the school assembly. And, you know, I asked them, what do you think of this? This probably isn't your typical plow job. And he said, no, I've been doing this for more than 20 years, and this is - you know, this is something special.

SNELL: The assembly included a special performance of "These Green Mountains," the Vermont state song. Plus...

FRAZER: The chorus teacher had taught the whole school how to do the chicken dance, so we did that for the plow drivers.

SNELL: And Edorah Frazer believes this weekend Snowy Chicken might have ventured out of the coop into Starksboro's first heavy snowfall of the season.

FRAZER: I missed it because, where I live, there isn't even snow yet, but they're little higher elevation and I'm sure they're all out there looking for Snowy Chicken.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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