Contributed photo
                                Rachel and Molly cleaned the STEM building’s solar panels as part of their community project.

Contributed photo Rachel and Molly cleaned the STEM building’s solar panels as part of their community project.

Students use community service class to conserve energy | Guest column

By Rachel Snow and Molly Tangney

Friday Harbor High School

Our names are Rachel and Molly. We are 16 years old juniors at Friday Harbor High School, and are in the community service projects class.

This semester, we have chosen to focus on reducing energy use in our school. We have been looking a lot at the energy used or wasted in the STEM building. Earlier this school year, with the help of our teacher Sam Garson, we installed a device called a sense monitor that tracks energy usage and the devices using the energy.

Washington state is one of the leading renewable energy producers in the United States. This truly sparked our interest in the project, wanting to help our community participate in this endeavor. Thanks to the monitor, we have been able to address not only how much electricity is used in the STEM building, but where. The building only has a few classes, so not a lot of energy is used.

Along with Mr. Garson, Katie Flemming with Friends of the San Juans has been a huge influence in this project, meeting with us regularly to discuss beneficial ways to reduce our energy and why we should. The importance of conserving energy is incredibly important because it costs much more money for the school, especially when devices such as heaters are left on.

Renewable energy such as solar is also a large part of our project. Last month, we even washed the solar panels on top of the STEM building. Renewable energy is essential to our community because a lot of our electricity comes from underground cables in Anacortes, and when those fail our islands needs a backup especially for first responders. Our main goal is to assemble the information we are gathering and use it to apply for a state solar and energy efficiency grant where our school district could be awarded money to help make our schools more carbon neutral.

We strongly believe that even without our community projects class, we would still be working on this project or something similar due to our participation and founding in our school’s Eco Club. This class being mandatory and full of deadlines has helped us stay on track and see the milestones within our project. In completing this project, colleges will be able to see what we are passionate about and how we can make an impact in our community along with the environment.