Don’t forget to get the light

Parker Whitney kids help school cut electricity costs
By: Kristine Guerra Special to The Placer Herald
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They care about the environment. They’re setting examples for other people to save energy and they’re also a bunch of 10-year-olds. “They’ve got me teaching with half the lights on in here,” said Parker Whitney Elementary School fourth-grade science and social studies teacher Mary Ann Rau. The students in Rau’s class are now taking action to help their school save money on electricity. The Energy Squad, or E-squad, is a group of fourth-grade students who check classroom lights, computers and air-conditioners once or twice each week. Two to four students at a time do the inspection. In the inspection done last Monday, four students, Lane Field, Chandler Conway, Chris Gilbreath and Scott Randall, went from room to room to check if anyone was wasting electricity. They then posted signs on the classroom doors to let other students know the E-squad inspected their classrooms. “It’s pretty fun because we’re saving money for our school and helping the environment,” Gilbreath said. “You just go around and help save the environment and save electricity,” Randall added. E-squad members have posted signs inside classrooms and offices and by computers and light switches to remind everyone to turn their lights, air conditioners and computers off when they’re not using them. They do announcements over the school’s PA system as well, according to Rau. “We got to pick a name and half the kids picked E-squad and four kids picked green-nenator,” Field said. E-squad members have also created posters about saving energy and have written an article for the Paw Print, the school newsletter, to get parents involved, Rau said. “Sometimes, the way to get us adults to change our ways is to have kids make the first move,” she said. As E-squad members, the students have received favorable response from parents and teachers, said Rau and school principal Denny Rush. “I think parents are aware that the kids are out there monitoring the power usage of the school and helping us cut costs,” Rush said. “So I think parents are appreciative of that, and I think teachers are appreciative of it too.” The E-squad, which began earlier this year, is part of the Service Learning Project, a project started by the Rocklin Unified School District. “The purpose of the Service Learning Project, basically, is to make kids more aware of energy waste at their school sites,” Service Learning Grant Manager Amanda Makis said. “The purpose is for them to essentially minimize our carbon footprint not only at the school site, but also at home.” “It (Service Learning Project) covers a lot of ground for students,” Rush said. “It covers the environment, cost-saving for the school and it also fits in the science curriculum.” Now, the E-squad members are very eager and enthusiastic to go beyond what they’re doing at school, Rush and Rau said. “Keeping that energy and excitement going about having an impact on the world and community that you live in when you’re 10-years-old, that’s a good thing,” Rush said.