At-risk kids find meaning on a farm which lets them continue school

June 16, 2017 3:52 pm Last Updated: June 16, 2017 3:52 pm

John R. Wooden High School in California is not like other high schools. There is no football field, swimming pool, or gym. But it does have something that other schools don’t have… a farm! Yes, a farm complete with chickens, pigs, rabbits, and even a llama or two, reported Kindred Spirits Care Farm.

The main reason Wooden is an unconventional high school is because it is a continuation school, intended for students who are behind in credits and are at risk of not graduating. While the more common alternative is online credit recovery courses for most students, Wooden employs a hands-on approach. Instead of chemistry or biology, for example, students can study environmental studies or plant and soil science, using a real-life garden!

One of the students in the program is Alex Snyder. Growing up in a foster care group home, he would often run away, ditch school, and hide in the library. Transferring to Wooden, however, worked wonders for him.

“If this is my first period, it kind of makes me want to come to school every day…It’s peaceful, and I like the animals…They’re better company than people,” Snyder said according to Los Angeles Times. Hoping to graduate in 2017, he plans to attend community college for two years, transfer to a four-year school, and become a professional nurse.

Even the students who did not come to the school with the intention of getting a fresh start found themselves undergoing a transformation. Another student, Bryant Santoyo, for example, dropped out of a few other high schools before coming to Wooden, and he only went back to school because his current job required it. This new school experience, however, has taught him to like school. “We see the process of something growing,” Santoyo said.