Positive Energy Committee Plans Solar/LED Project at School
by Peter Shelton
Jan 20, 2013 | 3494 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
STRATEGIZING – The Positive Energy Committee met this week in the 4th grade classroom of sponsor Krista Javoronok (right), following a successful fundraiser at the Sherbino Theater last weekend. The students want to compare energy use, and cost, for standard fluorescent lighting, LED lights, and solar-powered lights. From right: Shane Sisler, Delilah Mandaville, Sean Taplin, Anza Connaughton, Michaela Messer, Geri-June Hall, Lily Anna Harrington and Willow Krois. (Photo by Peter Shelton)

STRATEGIZING – The Positive Energy Committee met this week in the 4th grade classroom of sponsor Krista Javoronok (right), following a successful fundraiser at the Sherbino Theater last weekend. The students want to compare energy use, and cost, for standard fluorescent lighting, LED lights, and solar-powered lights. From right: Shane Sisler, Delilah Mandaville, Sean Taplin, Anza Connaughton, Michaela Messer, Geri-June Hall, Lily Anna Harrington and Willow Krois. (Photo by Peter Shelton)

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TAKING IT TO THE BANK – Ridgway 5th-grader Anza Connaughton proudly displayed the take from a fundraiser last weekend. The $532 will be used to support a solar and LED lighting project at school run by the eight-student Positive Energy Committee. (Photo by Peter Shelton)
TAKING IT TO THE BANK – Ridgway 5th-grader Anza Connaughton proudly displayed the take from a fundraiser last weekend. The $532 will be used to support a solar and LED lighting project at school run by the eight-student Positive Energy Committee. (Photo by Peter Shelton)
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SMPA, Local Businesses Help Kids With Energy Audit



RIDGWAY – At a noon meeting of the Positive Energy Committee this week in Ms. Krista Javoronok’s 4th grade classroom, eight Ridgway elementary students addressed thank you notes.

The group has raised over $700 so far in its bid to realize an energy audit project at the school, one that will compare the electricity used in three classrooms: one with standard fluorescent lights, one with LED lights, and one powered by solar panels. The eight students, three 4th graders and five 5th graders, were politely thanking all of the major donors so far.

They were excited because their initial fundraiser had gone so well – an evening screening at the Sherbino Theater last weekend of the 2007 documentary Arctic Tale. The film’s producers waived their use fee, and a standing-room-only crowd had brought in $532 in donations.

“The movie was sad,” replied 4th grader Delilah Mandaville, when asked how the show went. “The baby polar bear dies!” But apparently it got its message across – that global warming is making life even tougher on the polar bears and walruses featured in the film by melting the ice they depend on for survival.

Fifth grader Anza Connaughton, a lover of polar bears who hatched the idea for the Positive Energy Committee last year, lightened the mood by recounting her misadventure the day before as she was taking the Arctic Tale proceeds to the bank. “I didn’t remember to take the key out of the money box, and I was in the middle of the road and spilled it all! I had to scramble around and pick everything up!”

Last year, in Ms. Javoronok’s class, Connaughton learned about ecosystems, including the Arctic, and about energy, specifically electric energy. “I had the idea [for the project] because I really care about polar bears and stopping global warming,” she said. “I thought LEDs use a lot less energy than regular light bulbs. And I just kinda want to compare. Give the school options. If you want to save money, you might want to switch.”

Javoronok added, “My background is in environmental education. My passion aligned with Anza’s, and I volunteered to be the teacher rep. But it’s mostly a student-led group.”

The project has really begun to take shape. Connaughton spoke to San Miguel Power Association’s board of directors and convinced them to donate enough money ($1,950 through a SMPA grant) to buy the LED lights. Alternative Power Enterprises, of Ridgway, has agreed to at least partially subsidize the cost of the photovoltaic panel for the solar room. And Potential Power Systems, also of Ridgway, has offered technical assistance in design and installation.

There will be real-time meters installed in each of the three classrooms, to measure kilowatt hours used and to figure the cost per kWh. When the two “alternative” classrooms are up and running, sometime in February, the committee hopes, they will be able to compare cost, and greenhouse gasses saved: coal-fired standard bulbs versus coal-fired LED bulbs versus solar-powered standard bulbs.

“[Town Manager] Jen Coates at Town Hall told me they were using one-twelfth the electricity now that the town switched to LED Christmas lights,” Connaughton said. “That was exciting!”

The committee figures they will need something on the order of $1,500 total to pay for the solar components. They’re almost halfway there. At the lunch meeting, they discussed future fundraising ideas. “A car wash?” one of the girls suggested. Well, no not in this weather. “Maybe put on a play?” Not enough time to rehearse. “How about something around Valentines Day?” Javoronok proposed. “People are into buying gifts then.”

Asked about the wonderful name of their committee, Javoronok said, “Anza and I came up with it together. We were talking about making a positive difference. Hopefully, we’ll see some results which will lead to a small change.”

The Positive Energy Committee is comprised of Shane Sisler, Delilah Mandaville, Sean Taplin, Anza Connaughton, Michaela Messer, Willow Krois, Geri-June Hall, and Lily Anna Harrington. Donations can be made to the account of the RES Demonstration Project at Alpine Bank in Ridgway.

pshelton@watchnewspapers.com

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