Decatur Discovery Academy takes hands-on approach

Dara Turner
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High school senior Dara Turner has a new appreciation for history. Not only did she and her classmates study life in the 18th century, but they wrote a book about it.

Dara Turner reads an excerpt from a book that says, "April 5th 1764. The Sugar tax, placing on new tax on molasses and lumber."

The book is called "That a Man Can Stand: The Evolution of a Nation." You can buy it on

"I think the whole class was shocked, because that's not something you usually do in middle school is put out a book," said Dara.

Here at the Decatur Discovery Academy, you'll find students learning math, physics and geometry by analyzing how a football kicks a field goal.

Emily Kirchenbauer is a senior. "There was a massive amount of math that I had to get through but when it all came together, it just it made sense. And it clicked."

The principal here brings his motorcycle into the classroom as a tool to teach concepts like the center of gravity and friction.

Kevin Leineweber is a co-principal and teacher.

"People love motorcycles and they're fascinated by them. It gets their attention," he said.

The Decatur Discovery Academy is now in its eighth year.

It's what's called an expeditionary school that focused on academics revolving around real world projects or expeditions.

There are 150 schools nationwide, this is one of only three in Indiana.

The subject matter constantly interjects everyday and real time interests of the students.

"We've made lifelong learners. Students walk in and they kind of have an attitude about school; it's boring, they have to sit, they have to read a textbook, we try and focus on keeping things interesting, keeping school fun," said Leineweber.

Dara Turner told me, "I have currently applied to four colleges and am waiting to send transcripts."

For Dara and her classmates, there is clearly enthusiasm when it comes to the approach here, that now has their sights set well beyond graduation.

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