Rapoport Academy seniors build aquaponics greenhouse

Posted at 5:46 PM, Sep 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-28 19:06:05-04

A group of students are trading in their pens and paper for some farm labor.

At Rapoport Academy, every senior is required to do a thesis research project or a STEM Capstone project.

Students Layton Coker, Zach Bartek, Connor Wright and Rachel McLean chose to build a greenhouse. 

Coker said this opportunity allows them to get business experience while giving back to their peers.

"We're learning how to fund things, how to gather materials and how to lead people effectively," said Coker.

Each student is responsible for a different aspect of the project.

"I'm going to be in charge of using it for lesson plans for kids and set up a way to either sell the product or to have it flow through the school cafeteria," said Wright.

Fruits and vegetables will be grown using an aquaponics system, which is a sustainable farming method that can be studied by their classmates.

"I was an agriculture kid and hands-on activities, in my opinion, are one of the best ways to learn. It gives kids a great opportunity to not only get dirty but to learn something new," said Scott Sergeant, a biology teacher at Rapoport Academy.

The greenhouse is expected to cost $10,000. Bartek said grants will fund up to $7,500 of the project and they are relying on the community to step in and cover the rest.

"We still have to pour a concrete footer around the exterior of the greenhouse in order to lay a foundation for the walls we'll need to build," said Bartek. "We look to have most of the construction done on this larger greenhouse by the spring semester."

With graduation in May, the team has about eight months to make their dream a reality. It's one they all hope to watch grow for years to come.

"I want to see our school community add on to it and really thrive," said Coker. 

If you'd like to donate to the project, you can contact the director of community relations for Rapoport Academy Public School at 254-218-9367 or by email at

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