Cassopolis adds Ag-Science programPublished 4:08pm Wednesday, July 24, 2013
After two years of planning, the Cassopolis Board of Education made a dream come true for students when it approved with a 6-0 vote to implement an Ag Science program at Ross Beatty Jr./Sr. High School Monday night.
With the decision to start the program, the board also brought back online Red Brick School, which will house the program.
The board had been wrestling with what to do with Red Brick since it was closed. Since the school sits adjacent to the FFA farm and AG building, the location couldn’t be more perfect.
The program will kick off this year, so Carrie George and Kerrie Bass have a short period of time to get things up and running. George feels that with the tremendous amount of support the program has from the community, it should be no problem getting things ready when school starts after Labor Day.
The program already has commitments from six students outside of the district – five from Edwardsburg and one from Dowagiac. George feels that more will come as soon as word gets out that the program has been approved.
With Cass County’s strong 4-H program, drawing students to the Cassopolis District for this program should not be difficult. And with Cassopolis’ rich FFA tradition, numbers from within the district should also be good.
George, who is the FFA advisor, said that two years ago the Ag Science Committee, with the support of then Superintendent Greg Weatherspoon and members of the Board of Education, started looking into developing the program.
“There were several board members who had the idea,” George said. “It originally started when Greg Weatherspoon was still our superintendent and we visited the Chicago school for agri-science. It just evolved from that point. That push.”
The Cassopolis Chapter of the Future Farmers is the only one in Cass County and Berrien counties, although Niles and Benton Harbor have both looked into starting programs.
“The ag program has always been probably the one program that has drawn students from other districts,” George said. “The last eight years, I have had students from other districts come over for ag classes. I think they (the board) saw that, and that is without much of a push. A lot of it was just word of mouth.”
The program would be divided into morning and afternoon blocks. The morning block of two and a half hours would be for juniors and seniors. The afternoon block would be for freshmen and sophomores. One of the key elements to the program is that not only can the students get Ag-Science classes, but can also get core classes such as math and English.
“It’s pretty exciting,” George said. “I like the potential to have students for that block of time. It’s like a two and a half hour block and there is so much we can do with it. I’m sure every science based teacher would love to have that because in a 45 to 50 minute period it’s really difficult to do labs and that. This gives them the opportunity to do real project based things. With Kerrie Bass the English teacher coming with me, we will be able to integrate some of that core curriculum in.”
George, Bass and the Cassopolis school district will really begin its recruiting push next week during the Cass County Fair.
The district will have a booth set up under the grandstand where students can get information about the program and sign up as well. Interested students can also email George at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Ross Beatty at 445-0540.