Students participate truly as members of a small community. They will govern themselves and establish guidelines as well as consequences. These young people are expected to go out into the community to market and sell something they have produced.

Scientific studies have shown that adolescents seem to thrive with hands-on work in the mornings followed by academics in the afternoon that are stimulated by questions they have from their work. Brain neurons connect upon repeated work content, especially at this age. These neuronal pathways become more efficient during this age so information can more quickly be retrieved as needed.

A major project in 2011 was the building of a hoophouse. A hoophouse (or polytunnel) is a tunnel made of polyethylene, usually semi-circular, square, or elongated in shape. The interior heats up because incoming solar radiation from the sun warms plants, soil, and other things inside the building faster than heat can escape the structure. Air warmed by the heat from hot interior surfaces is retained in the building by the roof and wall. Polytunnels can be used to provide a higher temperature and/or humidity than that which is available in the environment but can also protect crops from intense heat, bright sunlight, strong winds, hailstones, and cold waves. This allows fruits and vegetables to be grown at times usually considered off season. “Constructing the hoophouse at Christ the King,” reports the administrator, “was a lesson in perseverance that the students will remember for a lifetime. We broke the job into small doable components and did what seemed impossible. One project is to grow raspberries in the hoophouse along with some in-ground specialty crops over next winter. We will explore the possibility of selling products at a new Bridgewater produce market just six miles away.” Photos of the construction of the hoophouse can be found below:

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