What do you get when you combine a garden, a goat, a greenhouse and school kids?

Dirty hands and engaged learners.


What do you get when you combine a garden, a goat, a greenhouse and school kids?

Dirty hands and engaged learners.

For two school years, the elementary school in Walton has been open as Walton 21st Century Rural Life Center.

Using charter funds, donations from local businesses, and income from fund-raisers, the school staff members, with help from parents and an advisory council, have coordinated the construction of a chicken house, greenhouse, wind turbine and barn on the site of this kindergarten-through-fifth-grade elementary school with about 120 students.

Teachers use projects in the greenhouse and garden, animal chores and the wind turbine to teach daily lessons that meet school curriculum requirements. Many hands-on learning experiences are made possible by the charter school program.

After this school year, funds no longer will be available through the charter school system.

In order to continue many of the programs under way at the school, funds will need to come from other sources and school fund-raisers.

On June 6, a fund-raising concert and barbecue dinner will be at the school.

Larry Thompson and the Big Buckle Band will perform traditional country and classic rock from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Band members include Larry Thompson of Newton on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Evan LaRue of Newton on bass guitar and vocals, Bob Bales of Wichita on lead guitar and vocals, Newton firefighter Chris Anderson on drums, and Jim Brennan of Wichita on fiddle, harmonica, mandolin and vocal.

Eight-year-old Lauren Thompson will sing with the band. She and the other members of the band have been performing together for four years.

Larry Thompson and the Big Buckle Band have played at venues all over Kansas.

They have had the opportunity to open for such performers as John Michael, Montgomery, Aaron Tippin and Shelly Wright.

Several members of the band have played together with other bands for more than 10 years.

A barbecue dinner will be served from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Audience members should bring lawn chairs and blanket.

Tickets are $10 and include the dinner and admission to the concert. Tickets are available prior to the concert at Walton Rural Life Center.

Funds from the concert and dinner will go towards finishing stalls in the barn, providing feed and veterinary care for animals living in the barn (goats and chickens, so far), and generally supporting the programs of this agricultural-based charter school.

Event sponsors include Heinze Insurance, Walton State Bank, Freedom Computers, Midland National Bank, First Bank of Newton, The Citizens State Bank, J and K Construction and The Halstead Bank.

For more information, call Walton Rural Life Elementary at (866) 837-3161.