Editor’s note: Kate Madigan is MEC’s northern Michigan representative and climate and energy specialist.
Today I joined northern Michigan community leaders and Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) officials in a gym with 200 cheering elementary students to celebrate the completion of the first solar array installed on a school in Traverse City.
The morning started with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in front of the 40 solar panels on the roof of Traverse Heights Elementary School that provide the school with sun-powered electricity, educational opportunities and much more.
“The solar panels are going to help fuel young minds and provide tangible ways to engage students in math and science, environmental stewardship and career exploration,” said Amy Six-King, principal of Traverse Heights Elementary School at the event. “We are appreciative of our community partners for their leadership in this effort, which provides our staff with a powerful tool to enhance teaching and learning.”
The leadership and can-do attitude of principal Six-King, who immediately saw the benefits to the school, were key to making this solar project happen.
This effort began more than a year ago when I got together with project leader Mary VanValin, a board member of the MEC member group Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities and a retired TCAPS teacher, to write a grant proposal to put solar panels on the school. We worked with the TCAPS leadership team to come up with a plan and we quickly raised all the funds needed for the solar project.
“Excitement about solar energy is contagious,” VanValin said. “When we started talking about the clean energy benefits of solar power and the hands-on educational and cost-saving possibilities it can provide to a school, the community support for this project went through the roof.” Read more