During last month’s solar eclipse, Central Park School for Children and NC GreenPower cut the ribbon on a new 5kW grid-tied solar PV array at the Hunt Street middle school campus in Durham. Students, teachers, and guests decked out in eclipse glasses cheered as Central Park alums cut the ribbon just before the apex of the eclipse. The solar array was made possible by a grant through NC GreenPower’s Solar Schools program, including matching support from the State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation.
“With the new middle school grid-tied system, children can participate in the whole solar spectrum from K to 8,” said Central Park Director John Heffernan. “And, Central Park becomes the first public school in the U.S. with both an off-the-grid and grid-tied system.”
Students at the school were joined by donors and supporters of the project, including North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives’ Bob Goodson. Goodson spoke highly of the partnership with Central Park, the seventh school to be dedicated as an NC GreenPower Solar School, and its first solar school in a downtown.
The school assembled a solar team in 2015 to apply for the funds led by fourth-grade teacher Aaron Sebens. Sebens also led his 2012-13 class in designing and wiring a wind turbine for a solar-powered classroom at the elementary school campus. Sebens and a group of teachers and parents sparked students’ excitement about the middle school solar idea, and the students created a YouTube video to appeal to business donors for project support.
“We were amazed at how the students took such an active part in the project-from designing the solar project itself to researching how they could help others with sustainability,” said Keisha Barber of Norwex USA, a supporter of the project. “This is truly a project led by world-changers!”