SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Springfield Public School (SPS) officials offered a tour of the new facility that will house the district’s newest magnet school on Wednesday.
Beginning in August 2022, the AgAcademy will open on the Missouri State University (MSU) campus to 100 fourth and fifth-grade students.
Wednesday also marked the celebration of the Darr Family Foundation’s 20th anniversary. A donation from the Darr Family Foundation helped make the AgAcademy possible.
The magnet school is located at MSU’s Darr Agricultural Center on South Kansas Expressway. According to SPS, the AgAcademy will offer hands-on learning experiences for students who are interested in a career in agricultural sciences and other related career paths.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson attended the open house celebration Wednesday. Governor Parson praised the unique design of the facility.
“There’s just some pretty unique things about this building that’s totally unusual from a lot of buildings that you get to go into,” Parson said. “We wouldn’t be here in this building today without good people doing good things.”
The building was designed by Tyler Hellweg, an architect and board member of the Darr Family Foundation. The geometric design is meant to maximize access to the outdoors and natural light, while paying tribute to agrarian culture.
The $6.7 million project will include classroom space, a greenhouse, and a garden. It will eventually serve up to 150 students in grades four through six.
Dr. Grenita Lathan, Springfield Public School Superintendent, said teaching young students about farming and agriculture is so important because the average age of farmers is 59 years old. She said students will not only learn about farming and agriculture sciences but about business as well.
“We’re saying we’re offering our students the best,” Lathan said. “The design of this building is outstanding.”
MSU President Clif Smart said he appreciates the support Governor Parson has given education and the support of the Darr family, which has been a part of agriculture education at MSU for years.
“I could count on one hand the number of people that have given to the university to the level that they have,” Smart said about William and Virginia Darr. “It makes a difference in the lives of our students and it’s now going to make a difference in the lives of students of all ages.”
Students who will participate in the AgAcademy’s programs were selected through a random lottery in December.
SPS offers other magnet learning opportunities, called Choice Programs in Health Sciences, Fine and Performing Arts, and Science.