BROOKLINE, MS (WLBT) - If you can believe it, back to school is already just a week or so away for some school systems. Everybody wants the school year to be a success. But one school is a little different but is also very successful.
We used to have agricultural high schools all over Mississippi. Most of them evolved into community colleges. But there's one still left. And although it has kept up with the times over the years, one thing remains the same; the way it prepares students for life.
The old boys' dormitory at Forrest County Agricultural High School at Brookline, Mississippi south of Hattiesburg is still there. In the early years of the 20th-century students would come to these agricultural schools, and there were several of them around the state, and live there.
Matter of fact, many students from out of state and even out of the country ended up getting their high school educations here before the dormitory program ended in the 1980s.
This school in Forrest County is the last of the agricultural high schools still functioning pretty much as it did when they were conceived, with plants and animals around. But the program has expanded to include other practical disciplines.
An allied health program, drafting, business classes as well as top-notch academic classes, and while you can get a good preparation for college here, those students who don't go on to get a degree, can get a good preparation for life here.
We tend to think that every student is college bound," said Forrest Ag. High District Superintendent Dr. J. J. Morgan. "We do have a lot of students that are college bound and will do very well. But we also have a lot of students who need to learn to do the same skills we needed a hundred years ago. The number one job in the state of Mississippi? Still agriculture."
And agriculture covers a lot of territory nowadays beyond farming. And then a school that also teaches practical technical skills so students who aren't heading directly for college can hit the ground running upon graduation is a model to be considered in an age looking for educational direction.
And in a time when so many school systems are wanting to try something new, Forest County Agricultural High School has found a lot of success by continuing to do something old.
One more by-product; it's a proven fact that young people who are interested in their academics don't get into nearly as much trouble as ones who aren't. Want to solve the crime problem? Don't build better jails. Build better schools.