AgAcademy Magnetic School Opens August for Springfield Public School Students

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Springfield Public School (SPS) officials offered a tour of the new facility on Wednesday that will house the district’s newest magnet school.

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 20th anniversary celebration of the Darr Family Foundation. A gift from the Darr Family Foundation made the AgAcademy possible.

The Magnetic School is located at MSU’s Darr Agricultural Center on the Southern Kansas Highway. According to SPS, the AgAcademy will provide hands-on learning experiences for students interested in careers in agricultural science and other related career paths.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson attended the open house on Wednesday. Governor Parson praised the facility’s unique design.

“There are just some pretty unique things about this building that are totally unusual compared to a lot of buildings you can walk 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, architect and board member of the Darr Family Foundation. The geometric design aims to maximize access to the outdoors and natural light, while paying homage to agrarian culture.

William and Virginia Darr, as well as Bill Darr’s grandson, Tyler Hellweg, who designed the AgAcademy building

The $6.7 million project will include classrooms, a greenhouse and a garden. It will eventually serve up to 150 students in grades four through six.

Dr. Grenita Lathan, principal of Springfield Public School, said teaching young students about agriculture and farming is so important because the average age of farmers is 59. She said students would not only learn about agriculture and agricultural science, but also about business.

“We say we give our students the best,” Lathan said. “The design of this building is outstanding.”

MSU President Clif Smart said he appreciates Gov. Parson’s support for education and the support of the Darr family, who have been part of agricultural education at MSU for years.

“I could count on one hand how many people gave the university the level it has,” Smart said of William and Virginia Darr. “It is making a difference in the lives of our students and it will now make a difference in the lives of students of all ages.”

The students who will participate in the AgAcademy programs were selected by lottery in December.

SPS offers other magnetic learning opportunities, called Health Sciences, Fine and Performing Arts, and Science Choice Programs.

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