LaGRANGE — It was a proud moment for boys at Ault Academy on Friday morning.
The students showed off handmade, one-of-a-kind bath soaps.
“Some are made for sensitive skin. Some make you feel better, some are scented and some make your skin more healthy,” explained Dylon, 13.
They made Lego-framed robots that students programmed to move, talk and twirl plus took folks on a tour of their science lab, which held an aquaponics tank that used recycled water to grow both fish and plants.
“What plants work best for the aquaponic system, one drains fast and one drains slower,” explained Brian, 13. “We also learned about the different types of bacteria.”
For safety reasons, the Daily News is only using the students’ first names.
The students at the Ault Academy are residents at the Bradfield Center Boys Home, a program of Twin Cedars.
According to Twin Cedars, Ault Academy is a part of the Troup County School System and is fully accredited. This is the first year the academy has held a summer school program. On Friday, the boys showcased everything they learned from their summer courses during an open house.
“Usually I’m very shy, but not today,” Oscar, 13, said. “Today I like talking to people and telling them what I’ve done.”
All the projects that were showcased were handmade by the boys – with the help from their teacher Aruna Sunderraj.
“I enjoyed it, and I knew the kids would love it,” said Sunderraj. “I wanted something the kids would carry on … everyone was so amazed at the things we could do. We really focused on learning and fun. It was a good balance of that.”
Sunderraj said close to 30 students participated in the summer school program. The boys were split up into groups of 10 and would come to class twice a week for about three and a half hours per day.
According to Twin Cedars, the program was focused on helping the boys retain the knowledge they learned throughout the school year. Sunderraj said she tried to pick projects that were more fun than academic.
“Students loved the soap making,” she said. “Sometimes they couldn’t believe we could makes soaps … I kind of sensed the robots would be the best. They really picked up on it. They are really ready for 21st century job skills.
“Aquaponics taught them how they can grow their own plants and fish and sell them, plus take care of the environment. They look at it in a different way. It’s not just about academics, it’s more about life. I think one of them will pick up on these skills and make it their profession … I really wanted the staff (at Twin Cedars) to come and see how good this program was for the students and the school.”
A successful feeling that was also shared by the students in her class.
“Miss Aruna teaches while making school fun,” said Brian. “At my old school they made it very boring, but she took the hard stuff (academic subjects) and made it interesting.”
“It made us feel like we accomplished something … that we worked hard,” said Dylon, 13. “But most of all, how to work together in groups.”
It is those sentiments that Sunderraj hopes stays with the boys through out the school year and positively impacts their lives.
She said the students also learned business and marketing skills. Sunderraj would like to hold a fundraiser in the future for the Ault Academy and sell the handmade soaps, plants and vegetables created by the boys.
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.