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6th Graders Urge School Board to Implement Solar Power on Campus

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.— A Santa Barbara Elementary School principal believes his students’ pitch for a solar-powered campus is likely to get approval.
A little over a month ago we spoke with Christy Shaefer and her 6th grade students at Peabody Charter School, who spent months researching solar energy and what it could do for their campus and their community. 
Monday, these kids are feeling energized following a huge victory. Their pitch to the school board will be reviewed in two weeks.

“This project shows that students are able to go and tackle complex issues if it's meaningful for them and they're able to learn standards in a different kind of way, that is more motivating,” said 6th grade teacher Christy Shaefer.
Christy Shaefer’s students tackled a lofty goal last month.
They aimed to convince the Peabody Board to introduce solar power to campus.
“I was really impressed with, at the board meeting, that they not only provided information, but they were ready to answer questions. And that's hard to predict, right? You don't know what the board is going to ask,” said Superintendent Principal of Peabody Charter School Demian Barnett.
These kids explained everything from how much solar installation would cost to how much money it would save in the long run.
Each group of kids had their own area of expertise, ranging from what kind of energy solar would produce and different ways to pay for that cost. 
“Pretty much everything we did. I was learning something new, like learning something new about a battery, a kilowatt hour,” said 6th grade student Maxx Biancone.
This student explains the concept of net zero. 
“Basically, we don't have to pay anything since our money that we get from solar is equal to the money we spent,” said 6th grader Trey Leday.
These kids aren’t only thinking about the short term, they’re thinking about how they could impact the school for years to come. 
“Even though it took so long, it was totally worth it because it's going to impact other generations, other kids at school,” said 6th grader Sol Garcia Guevara.
No matter the outcome of May 24th’s Board meeting, the kids will walk away with some valuable life lessons. 
“When students get a chance to present authentically, it becomes a rite of passage for them where they realize that they can have agency in their own futures and they know that they can make a difference through the research and the effort and the energy and the passion that they bring to projects,” said Barnett.

The board still has multiple factors to consider before moving forward including the financial feasibility of of implementing this eco-friendly change. 

If this project gets approved, Peabody will be the 15th site in the Santa Barbara Unified School District to have solar power.

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Mina Wahab

Arab-American producer & reporter with a mission to dig deep in interviews, share authentically, shed light on the issues that matter, and provoke deep thought.


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