By Nancy Edwards
Students and staff at Fishers Junior High School won’t have to wish for an iPad for Christmas this year. They’ve already been awarded one, thanks to their efforts toward curbing energy use.
The school was one of about 30 Indiana schools selected to participate in the Energy Action in Schools program. Sponsored by the Indiana Office of Energy Development, U.S. Department of Energy and Duke Energy, the initiative was created to help teach students and staff about the benefits of saving energy.
Fishers Junior High took the idea seriously, yet had some fun along the way. Students were part of an energy action patrol and a spreadsheet was created that listed items to be “checked off” as patrols were done in the classrooms. The patrol team ensured that aluminum cans and paper were recycled, blinds were open to let the sunlight/heat in, windows were closed when the heat/air conditioning was used and that TVs and computers were turned off when not in use. Teachers in the classrooms received a green tag hung on their door if they followed procedures, while yellow tags were hung if they were not in compliance.
“The students did a wonderful job,” said Tom Petersen, an eighth grade science teacher at Fishers Junior High. “They like being a part of the school that way; there’s a certain sense of pride.”
Petersen said he was inspired personally by the program, as he tries to practice saving energy at home. For example, one night during the month, his family will turn off the electricity and enjoy the fireplace instead. Those little examples, he said, have also inspired the students.
“I learned that turning off any light helps; I didn’t know it mattered so much before,” said Ashley Justice, an eighth-grade student who took part in the program.
Kimberly Rutsito, also an eighth grader, said she is also more conscience of making sure that she does what she can to help save energy at home, including recycling and unplugging the phone chargers. “We waste a lot of paper at home,” she said.
As a result of the initiative, “I’m encouraged,” Petersen said. “We will keep this up.”