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Your Chicago: Ag High School In Urban Setting

Meet one of the residents of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. The school has a barn stocked with farm animals. (CBS)

Meet one of the residents of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences. The school has a barn stocked with farm animals. (CBS)

Rob Johnson Rob Johnson
Rob Johnson is the weekday anchor of the CBS 2 Chicago evening...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – It is a magnet school on the Far South Side of Chicago, a 78-acre campus complete with buildings, fields, a farm and a barn. Yes, that’s right, a barn.

It is the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, one of only seven like it in the country.

CBS 2’s Rob Johnson reports.

This unique high school might be located in an urban setting at 111th and Pulaski, but the feel is definitely rural.

It’s been around 27 years but is still a well-kept secret.

The school gives pupils “not just a sense of accomplishment, but a sense that they can accomplish,” principal Bill Hook says. “If they work hard, good things will happen. And that’s something they will hopefully take away with them for the rest of their lives.”

Not only do students have regular classrooms, but they also have a kitchen, a greenhouse and an “aquaponics” lab. It’s a different learning experience, the 600 students seem to embrace.

“I had no idea how many fields, how many careers that you could go into in the ag industry, and coming here really opened my eyes to all of that,” student Aja Powers said.

But one of the highlights of the ag high school has to be the barn. This pungent place is filled with goats, cows, sows, and horses, one of which, Vega, is due to drop a foal at any moment.

Denny Petrodonno, with the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association, and offered to donate horses to the school with the catch that the special education students would get hands-on experience with the animals.

Senior Samantha Sparr appreciates the experience.

“I just like interacting with the animals and helping feed them,” she says.

When students have graduated after following their specific pathway, Hook, the principal, says they are prepared for some of the best college agricultural programs anywhere.