Lessons expanding beyond classroom

Daily Journal

Too often high school students think their classroom assignments have no relevance to life after high school. But a group at Whiteland Community High School found their assignment had a direct benefit for the school district and gave them valuable real-world experience that will benefit them greatly after they graduate.

The 10 students in the agricultural business management class were asked to find a way to bring more money in for 120 acres of farmland leased to farmers by their school district. The work would require researching the rental prices for farmland, contacting local farmers and then writing up a contract that Clark-Pleasant schools would use.

At first, getting the assignment from the superintendent was intimidating for the students. As senior Autumn Peterson put it: “Why would he come to a class like us?”

But Peterson and others quickly realized that Superintendent Patrick Spray wouldn’t have asked the students for their help if he didn’t think they could deliver. “The fact that he believed in us made it not so overwhelming,” Peterson said.

The students had roughly a week to research what the land was worth, what the school district was being paid, collect bids from farmers and then write up lease contracts. The students came through, more than doubling the money the school district makes each year.

For their work, the students also asked for a cut of the profits — and got $1,200, which will pay for contest fees and other expenses for the high school’s FFA chapter.

Clark-Pleasant acquired the 120 acres of farmland years ago when the school district was purchasing property it eventually used to build schools. Last year, the district made about $19,000 leasing the farmland. When it was time for the school district to renew contracts with farmers who wanted to lease the land, Spray wanted to see if the students in the agricultural business class could help the district get a better deal for the land.

The students did research and found that the school district was being underpaid for its land. The most Clark-Pleasant was receiving for an acre of land was $171, which was below Johnson County’s average of $202 per acre. The students got bids from nearly 20 farmers interested in using the land, and the winning bids ranged from $278 per acre to $315 per acre, totaling more than $40,000.

“Our primary mission is education. And anytime we can get kids involved with real-word applications of what they’re learning in the classroom, it’s really effective,” Spray said.

We agree. The assignment was challenging and had ramifications the students clearly recognized. We commend teacher Hannah Goeb and Spray for involving the students in such a significant assignment.

This is another example of how local teachers are making lessons challenging and effective at integrating real-world applications in a classroom setting.

At issue

Students sometimes feel school assignments have no bearing on life outside the classroom.

Our point

An assignment at Whiteland Community High School required students to do research and write a proposal that will end up benefiting the district financially.