Education

New Fayette agriscience school inundated with interest from students, offers of livestock

During the groundbreaking last September for Locust Trace Agriscience Farm, Kristian Little, a student at Eastside Technical Center and Dunbar High School, petted one of the horses on hand.
During the groundbreaking last September for Locust Trace Agriscience Farm, Kristian Little, a student at Eastside Technical Center and Dunbar High School, petted one of the horses on hand.

The new Locust Trace Agriscience Farm isn't completed, but Fayette County student interest in the new school is running so high that district officials say they might not be able to accommodate everyone when it opens next fall.

Evening classes are a possibility as a way to meet demand, school officials said.

Locust Trace is being built on an 82-acre site off Leestown Road. It will be a working farm with livestock, pastures, orchards and gardens, where students will study veterinary science, equine science, horticulture and related subjects.

So far, 2,295 public school students now enrolled in grades 9 to 12 have expressed interest in careers that would include classes offered at Locust Trace.

"Interest is phenomenal," said James Hardin, Fayette County Public Schools' coordinator of career and technical education. "We're just getting into the scheduling process, and the preliminary numbers from our high schools show we have 175 students right now saying they want to be in the program. Scheduling usually doesn't end until early or mid-March, so it could be amazing to see what the total turns out to be."

According to Harden, Locust Trace is designed for 250 students a day, 125 in the morning and 125 in the afternoon. Students in the program would spend half their day at the farm, the other half at their home schools.

There has been some preliminary talk but no decision about making Locust Trace a full-fledged technical high school capable of handling more students. Additional construction would be required.

In the short term, evening classes could serve additional students at the farm, Harden said. Officials are preparing a survey of students to identify how many might be interested in evening classes.

Meanwhile, so many people are offering to donate livestock for Locust Trace that the school system says it probably won't have to buy any animals for the $18.2 million farm-school.

The school expects to have horses, cattle, sheep, goats and other animals on the Locust Trace site, but no livestock can be moved to the farm until construction is complete.

"With all the donations we don't anticipate having to spend any money buying livestock," Hardin said.

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