ARCANUM — Arcanum-Butler Schools are set to begin construction on a new multi-purpose building, which will include state-of-the-art agriculture facilities.
The 20,000 square foot structure, designed by Garmann, Miller & Associates of Minster, will house welding, woodworking and small engine repair facilities, as well as additional agriculture labs, classrooms, a greenhouse and a meeting room open to organizations throughout the community.
According to Arcanum-Butler Superintendent John Stephens, the project has been talked about for years but really started to pick up steam in March of 2018.
“That’s when we had our fundraising kickoff event,” Stephens said, “and the community support since then has been phenomenal.”
Arcanum students built a wooden silo, which now sits in front of the Arcanum Field House on North Main Street, right across the street from the entrance to the Arcanum-Butler campus. The silo was gradually filled with grain as the district came closer to meeting its $1 million goal for the project. Funds came from a variety of sources, including a $250,000 gift from Ralph and Phyllis Brumbaugh of Brumbaugh Construction as well as sizable donations from Greenville National Bank and Jafe Decorating Co., both based in Greenville.
Alex Weiss, a 2018 Arcanum-Butler graduate and former president of the school’s FFA chapter, was one of the students who helped get Arcanum’s agriculture program reinstated after the district shelved the program during the early ’90s.
“He wrote me a letter,” Stephens said. “And it was just so well articulated.”
That letter caught Stephens’ attention, prompting him to reach out to administrators at the Miami Valley Career Technology Center, which already operated ag satellite programs at Tri-Village High School in New Madison, Mississinawa Valley in Union City and Franklin Monroe Schools in Pitsburg.
“People were always asking me, ‘How does a school in Darke County not have an ag program?’” Stephens said. “So I figured it was time to do something about that.”
The Arcanum-Butler school district revived its FFA program at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year. Arcanum-Butler students now can take an entire four-year program of courses, taught by an MVCTC agriculture instructor, without having to commute daily to the other school’s campus in Montgomery County.
A little over two years after its reinstatement, the ag program at Arcanum-Butler boasts more than 90 students. The school’s dairy judging team took second place at a state-level competition, and individual students have taken home awards at the Darke County Fair. Arcanum students participated in the National FFA Convention in Indianapolis and the World Dairy Expo in Madison, Wisconsin.
The new facility will expand the program’s offerings greatly, according to Stephens.
“Right now we’re limited in the kinds of projects we can do,” Stephens said. “We’ve had to send our students out into the community or they’ve had to work outside, which is dependant on the weather. This facility will change all that.”
The Arcanum school board is expected to vote Thursday to approve a contract for the building’s construction, which is set to begin this spring. Construction could be completed as early as November, according to Stephens.
“It’s just great to know that our community supports us in such a generous financial way,” Stephens said. “This project is going to have a big impact on the future of our students, and frankly, I’m just tickled to be a part of it.”
Additional information about the multi-purpose building and donation information can be found on the Arcanum-Butler School District’s website.