Solar power comes to District 86

District 86 seeks to raise $66,000 to install solar panels within the Central and South campuses. Should the necessary funds be met, 80 solar panels –the equivalent to a 20 kilowatt array—will be divided between the two high schools.

The cost of the project is projected to be around $108,000. To help finance the venture, a student group, consisting of Ecology Club members and students from the Toshiba Youth Conference, has applied for three grants, two of which have already been obtained. The results of the third grant, which is worth $42,000, won’t be heard until June. “Our goal as a school is to get $66,000 without our $42,000 [grant],” said Lily Chetosky, junior.

According to Mrs. Lisa Fernandez, Chair of the Science Department, the move toward solar energy is a student led initiative. “Students who attended the Toshiba Youth conference and the ecology clubs from both schools have wanted to do this, so the science department chairs are both building their support, while principals and the superintendent are supporting it as well,” Fernandez said.

The idea of using solar energy within the schools came after students such as Chetosky, who attended the Toshiba Conference in Thailand, returned from their trip and discussed their idea with Ecology Club. “When we were in Thailand, we had to do something when we came back. We thought instead of doing four separate smaller projects, [we should] do something that the whole school can benefit from. We thought that if we put all our ideas together and ideas from our [Ecology] Club that we could come up with one big idea, which is the solar panels,” Chetosky said.

Chetosky hopes that the solar panels will help spread a level of awareness throughout the student body, “I wish that they could all go to Thailand and see how other cultures live because it’s so drastic from how we live. Not everyone will become energy efficient,” Chetosky said.

To raise the necessary funds, the student group will sell sunglasses during Earth week as well as hold a fundraising drive where people may become platinum donors or gold donors. The student group plans on hosting a benefit on May 3 at 7:00 p.m., featuring student band Vinyl Surprise. Tickets, neon green D. 86 wristbands, will be sold for $5.