The doors opened to Battle High School students for its first regular school year on Aug. 20, 2013. New doors also opened for the agriculture and FFA department in Columbia.
Larry Henneke, one of the agriculture advisers for the Columbia Agriculture Department and FFA, explained that even though Battle is a new school, they will still combine with the other two high schools. The high schools in Columbia are considered to have one agriculture department and one FFA Chapter.
“This is an opportunity to expand,” Henneke said.
Among the three high schools there are 400 students enrolled in the agriculture department. At Battle there are currently approximately 70 students. Henneke explained that having all of these students involved in the agriculture department spread across the three high schools in Columbia gives the students a unique experience. The students can have their own mini-chapters and projects within their high schools but be a part of something bigger when combined.
The new high school will help freshmen and sophomores get more involved at an earlier age and have the full agriculture and FFA experience during their high school career. Before Battle was installed, the ninth graders were not able to be a part of the agriculture program because they were not considered part of the high school.
With the new addition of Battle, one of Henneke’s goals is to see the number of four- year agriculture students grow. Another goal for Henneke is to get different students involved who may not know about agriculture and students who may not come from an agricultural background.
One such student, Josh Wedemeyer, has never been involved in agriculture but would like to try it in the new high school. Wedemeyer is involved in Battle’s high school band though, so he is not sure if he will have time.
“I am not in their ag program, but I hear it is really going to be something else,” Wedemeyer said. “Battle High hasn’t stopped amazing me with their programs and ideas, so their new ag program I’m sure is spectacular.”
Inside the new school, Battle has a brand new classroom and equipment for the agriculture classes. Henneke and all of the ag advisers are excited about the change, he said. Of course, all of the students are excited about the new school as well.
“We want to get agriculture and FFA recognized right off the bat,” Henneke said.
Regardless of whether or not Wedemeyer will become involved in agriculture or not he said has enjoyed being in the new school.
“I feel like I’m right in the middle of something that no one will forget,” Wedemeyer said.