Solar Panel Installation at the Progressive School of Long Island
New York, USA
On October 2, 2008, “Solar Day”, the whole school celebrated the installation of 53 solar panels on the roof of the middle school.
The Progressive School of Long Island promotes social and moral responsibility in its students’ minds and hearts. This is a cornerstone of Progressive education, as is nurturing students’ curiosity, learning by doing, and instilling a respect for every living creature on the planet, as well as the planet itself. At this K-8 private school, middle school students devote an entire period to student volunteering. The elementary school is also heavily focused on doing for others. Many communities have benefited from the school through their volunteer programs.
Director Eric Jacobson feels that the student-run volunteer activities help the local and global community, but they also help engender a limitless sense of empowerment. Students feel that they can overcome any obstacle that they recognize in society, with solid planning and facilitation from instructors. This sense of empowerment carries over into academics; it is not unusual for students to study one or two grade levels ahead at PSOLI.
One of the most consistent areas where students focus their volunteer time is on the environment. Grade school students ensure efficient, school-wide recycling and design numerous programs, including a sixth grade carnival to save the wild-cats. Environmentally aware “stu-vol’ projects have included selling eco-friendly reusable supermarket bags, volunteering at animal shelters, as well as protecting other endangered species. The intensity with which students regard the environment was heavily reflected in the student run newspaper, The Progressive Post, and its news broadcasts.
With so much school-wide energy focused on the environment, it is fitting that the school focused on their own use of consumable energy. Mr. Jacobson felt that the installation of solar panels would align with the school’s sense of environmental responsibility. After considerable fund-raising spearheaded a parent and her three children (who organized theme parties to raise funds), the school installed the panels during the latter part of the summer. Critical to making the project possible was the generosity of K-Star Solar, a solar installation company, which provided one hundred percent free labor as well as providing a monitor for the science room, which records scientific data about the amount of electricity generated and the green house gases avoided by installing the solar panels. Gencorelli and Salo also donated one hundred percent of their time for their architectural services provided. The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) provided a generous rebate for the installation of the panels.
PSOLI SOLAR PANELS
By a PSOLI student
It was impossible to miss this summer. It was impossible not to see those big number 4’s every time you drove past a gas station. Maybe you heard your parents grumbling about the price of gasoline hitting $4.00 and MORE. Maybe you turned on the news and heard, or opened a newspaper and saw the screaming headlines: GASOLINE COSTS ARE SKYROCKETING; HOME HEATING OIL PRICES ARE GOING THROUGH THE ROOF; THE ERA OF CHEAP, AFFORDABLE ENERGY IS OVER!!!!
Perhaps, your dad and mom have traded in their gas-guzzling automobile and purchased a hybrid. Many car dealerships are promoting more fuel-efficient cars, and auto factories throughout the nation are starting to make the changes necessary to producing smaller, more gas-efficient vehicles. It’s long overdue. Consider that Europeans have been paying well over $5.00 a gallon for gasoline for years, which has forced them to change their driving habits and the size of the cars they buy.
Well, something else is impossible to miss these days: it’s those great big solar panels on the roof of the middle school building. When the director of PSOLI, Eric Jacobson, decided to do something about the high cost of energy, he must have looked up to the sky and said: “let there be light.” By harnessing the rays of the sun, he must have realized that the Progressive School could save money, reduce its dependence on electricity, help the environment, generate some heat and be cool all at the same time.
Sure, the solar panels were costly, but this is one investment that will pay for itself in time. The solar panels on the roof of our socially responsible school will teach a lesson for anyone willing to open their eyes and minds: the lesson that everyone can do his or her small part to conserve energy, and that it can all add up to something quite electrifying.
Let’s not forget that the solar panels on the roof of the middle school building would not be there today without the help of the PSOLI community. The boys and girls and men and women who put their energies into fundraising, who sacrificed their precious time, who donated their hard-earned money, who believed in solar power and the power of working toward a higher goal deserve a big assist for a job well done. But we can’t just sit back and sun ourselves; there’s much more work to do, and this is just the beginning. Onward and upward!