Chicks are for kids! Indy school takes unique approach to teach

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INDIANAPOLIS — It’s quite the sight inside the walls of an urban city school: baby chickens and rabbits.

Sonya Lord’s class at Arsenal Tech High School doesn’t spend all their time behind desks. Instead, they get to breed and raise live animals in the school’s courtyard.

“It’s the best kept secret of Indianapolis,” Lord said.

Syx Russell and his classmates get the ultimate hands-on experience, thanks to the agricultural program run through STAR Academy and the Future Farmers of America.

“I actually wanted to do something in law,” Russell said.

That was until he started the magnet program at Manual High School. After 18 years there and a takeover by the city, Indianapolis Public Schools moved it to Tech.

“I’ve always liked animals and I figured this would be a good spot for me to kind of further my interests and see if I want to turn it into a career,” freshman Kaylee Brunsting said

Not every kid chooses to make agriculture a career, but Lord said it does do a lot to curb behavior issues and give kids a different kind of outlet.

“A lot of kids that act up in other classrooms because they don’t want to read or they don’t want to sit still, they can come out here and work, use their hands,” Lord said.

Russell was no exception.

“I had been, you might say, a delinquent. I got in trouble a lot,” Russell said.

He’s a senior now, planning to go to college to study agricultural education.

New IPS school leaders planned to keep the program around and it’s easy to see why.

“It kind of sparked an interest in me and a curiosity,” Russell said.

The FFA runs many programs in Indiana schools through the state. Lord said it could very well expand to other city and urban schools soon.

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