SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Next month, the McCrossan Boys Ranch will launch a fundraiser through the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce to expand the ranch’s school for boys in middle and high school. The $3-million project will include bigger classrooms plus career and technical education facilities, an art room and even a sports complex with a running track.
15-year-old “Ethan” is a medal-winning runner who enjoys competing in cross country and track meets for McCrossan Boys Ranch.
“I used to be a really hyper kid. But then, when I found out they had sports here, I like running, it helps me release energy,” Ethan said.
Ethan is also running ahead of schedule for graduation from McCrossan’s high school.
“Right now, I’m a sophomore and should probably graduate next year by the end of the year already,” Ethan said.
McCrossan’s school serves boys from troubled backgrounds in grades 8 through 12. The school is accredited through the South Dakota Department of Education and has a very fluid enrollment.
“We have kids that come in and out. I could have 5 kids today and tomorrow to we’re going to get 2 more intakes so now I got to catch 2 kids up while still working on the five over here,” teacher Brandon Stahl said.
Ethan says he likes the smaller class sizes because each student receives more one-on-one time with their teachers.
“Class size here was only about maybe up to 12 kids in a class. Normally, it’s like eight,” Ethan said.
But the smaller class sizes are also a necessity because of space issues.
“My room only holds eight and so having only eight kids at a time, unless I can rearrange my room somehow and make it a little more roomy, but then you’re still left-hand versus right-hand kids, bumping elbows the entire time trying to get a lesson done gets a little hectic,” Stahl said.
But an 8-thousand-square-foot expansion will address growing pains at the school. The plans include larger classrooms, a science lab plus a hub for career and technical education.
“Career and technical education is huge right now, especially with the workforce shortages in South Dakota, it’s one way that we can give kids some hands-on learning by adding that in a classroom,” McCrossan Boys Ranch Director of Development Christy Menning said.
Ethan is especially looking forward to the new running track to replace the cow pasture that serves as their training area.
“We run on a dirt road to practice and we have like our own track, kind of on grass,” Ethan said.
The McCrossan school has a decades-long track record of helping boys overcome difficult upbringings to thrive in the classroom and beyond.
“What we’re doing here works. I see the success. I’ve been here for 20 years and I’ve seen so many boys. I’ve seen Harvard graduates, I’ve seen dentists, I’ve seen truck drivers and people that run the Burger King next door. But they’re all successful in our eyes,” Menning said.
Ethan has big plans once he leaves McCrossan’s.
“My plan after I graduate is to go to college for running and probably get a scholarship and if I don’t make it any further after that, I’ll probably do, business, like my own shoe business and clothing business,” Ethan said.
Many of the McCrossan students are the first in their families to graduate high school. And the school expects the expansion will help prepare even more boys for life beyond the classroom.
The fundraiser will run through next March. So far, McCrossan has collected more than a million dollars. The goal is to break ground next summer.