s most recent classroom was built by Agri-Science students this summer although they have very little intention of spending much time in it. Instead they'll be handling and caring for the occupants, two 45-day-old pigs who couldn't be happier in their new outdoor pigpen.
"You can tell they're happy, they're wagging their tails," said Craig Floyd of in Stonington. Floyd raises pigs on the farm and is letting the school borrow the two pigs until the winter.
The pigs' stay was extended from two weeks to five to six months after a bunch Agri-Science students got together this summer and built an outdoor pigpen.
"They did a lot of things that they've never done before," said Agri-Science teacher Devon O'Keefe who initiated the project. O'Keefe said the students did all the critical thinking, math and problem solving needed to make the 36' x 36' pen that includes two pastures and has an low-voltage electric fence around its perimeter.
High school junior Samantha Bartosiak, of Ledyard, said they all did a lot of digging, measuring, straightening posts, leveling ground and clearing away brush and vines. "It was good work, it was something that would help me."
"We had to make it safe for the pigs and get the rocks out of the way," said Madison Ellis, a sophomore from Gales Ferry who was surprised by what turned out to be the hardest part of the project.
"Leveling the fences," she said. "If the ground wasn't even you had to add a ton of dirt." Hauling dirt from one pile to the next, she said was not easy.
Sami Baatz, a senior from New London, said digging out big rocks with crowbars was one of the hardest things she did.
O'Keefe said that the outdoor "allows us to keep the pigs for a longer period of time and the kids can see them in their natural environment." and all it took was about $600 in material donated by Tractor Supply in Pawcatuck and a few days work of manual labor.
One of the perks of having an outdoor pen is that the pigs enjoy an environment they are suited for and exhibit more natural behaviors like rooting through the dirt. Pigs would not do that in the small indoor pen the school was using previously.
Floyd's farm is the only certified humane farm in the state, he said, and he wouldn't let "just anyone" borrow his pigs.
"With this pen, the school has made such a huge step in the welfare and happiness of these animals," he said.