The Darr Family Foundation celebrated their 20th Anniversary on Wednesday, April 6 with the grand opening of the AgAcademy. The newest magnet school in Springfield Public Schools (SPS), the AgAcademy is a collaboration of SPS and Missouri State University (MSU) and was made possible by a generous donation from Bill and Virginia Darr of the Darr Family Foundation, the largest known gift in SPS' history. The AgAcademy will provide an innovative, hands-on learning experience for 100 fourth and fifth grade students starting in August 2022, and will eventually serve 150 students in grades four through six.
The AgAcademy building was designed by Tyler Hellweg - principal architect at Arkifex Studios and Darr Family Foundation board member - and includes classroom space, a greenhouse, and a garden. The building's unique geometric design maximizes natural light and pays tribute to agrarian culture.
“This building is a tribute to the history of farming in America, a monument celebrating [Tyler's] grandfather’s life’s work, and represents the future of agricultural opportunities in Missouri as our local students will soon fill the hallways for a learning experience like none other,” said Heather Zoromski, executive director of the Darr Family Foundation. “We are so grateful for our partnership with Springfield Public Schools and Missouri State University that allowed this dream to become a reality.”
Speakers at the event included Governor Mike Parson, SPS Superindindent Grenita Lathan, and MSU President Clif Smart, who recognized the incredible legacy of Bill and Virginia Darr and their influence on the future of agriculture in Missouri, the largest industry in the state.