Aquaculture at RLES

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 30, 2011

Rep. Mike Jones watches with interest as Cayman Steele works in Red Level's aquaculture program.

Students at Red Level Elementary School will soon have the opportunity to get a more hands-on experience with nature.

On Thursday, the school received funding from Sen. Jimmy Holley and Rep. Mike Jones for the school’s new aquaculture program.

Principal Rodney Drish said he learned how vital to a child’s education the program can be, when he was introduced to the program at Florala by Superintendent Terry Holley.

Drish said he knew he wanted to implement the program, when Florala was placed on the Top 100 schools in the nation list.

After a successful implementation at the former Florala City Middle School, Drish said he knew he wanted to give RLES students the same opportunities.

“All the students who were involved in the program passed the graduation exam in science and math, and the majority of them scored in the upper 90s,” he said.

Drish said the aquaculture program deals with a lot of math, science and chemistry.

“Through hands-on learning, the students are not only learning but they are having fun,” he said. “There is a lot of comparing and contrasting and testing pH, nitrite and toxic ammonia levels.”

Drish said the school is building a 32-foot by 40-foot building that will consist of 500-plus gallon tanks.

“Right now we have a few tanks inside the school, but this will allow us to expand our program,” he said. “The tanks will house a variety of fish including tilapia, coy, goldfish, trout and yellow perch.”

Additionally, the program will incorporate aquaponics, which consists of raised beds to grow fruits and vegetables. The beds are fertilized using fish water.

Drish said he expects the building to be completed in the next couple of weeks.

The building will be named for Evan Carpenter and Levi Neal, two RLS students who lost their lives in a May traffic accident.

Drish said he is excited about the new program.

“If I were a child this would be Christmas in September,” he said. “I really have to thank Mike Jones and Sen. Holley. Without them this wouldn’t be possible.

“Our students are excited about the program,” he said. “Our attendance rate will increase because it’s something they are excited about and look forward to being engaged.”