Mount Sentinel Secondary students have successfully pitched a project that will install solar panels at the school. L-R: Teacher Danny Leeming, students Adriana Wilson, Daniela Sirois and Deity Daunheimer. Photo: Tyler Harper

Mount Sentinel Secondary students have successfully pitched a project that will install solar panels at the school. L-R: Teacher Danny Leeming, students Adriana Wilson, Daniela Sirois and Deity Daunheimer. Photo: Tyler Harper

Student-led initiative leads to solar system approved for Kootenay high school

Mount Sentinel Secondary’s Grade 12 students will raise money every year for additional panels

Adriana Wilson hasn’t quite yet graduated from her Kootenay high school, but she’s already seen her home change in ways that unsettle her.

Born and raised in the region, the Grade 12 student remembers three years ago when flash-flooding destroyed homes in Grand Forks and watches the now-annual wildfires in B.C. that choke the air.

What, she wonders, will the Kootenays look like in a decade? And will she still be able to make it her home?

“I know, at least for myself and a few of my classmates, we talked about the fact that we were scared to have kids, because we didn’t know if there was gonna be much left by the time they grew up.”

Wilson is one of 12 environmentally-conscious students part of the Green Team at Mount Sentinel Secondary, located between Nelson and Castlegar, who have provided one small but practical solution: solar panels.

This month, School District 8 trustees voted to spend $27,000 for start-up costs and first 10 panels installed on the school’s roof.

A portion of money raised every year by Grade 12 students for their graduation will then fund five-to-15 panels annually at a cost of about $240 per panel.

Fourteen years from now, when the project is complete, the hope is there will be 160-to-190 panels on the roof generating approximately 57,000 kilowatts per hour and saving the school $12,000 in annual electrical costs, or about half the school’s use, according to director of operations Bruce MacLean.

Wilson says she believes annual fundraising for the panels will encourage future students to do more climate change work and build off the project.

Grade 12 student Daniela Sirois has been part of the Green Team for five years, helping with the installation of a bee hive, the construction of an outdoor classroom and wildlife-friendly composting on school grounds.

But last year, during a brainstorming session in teacher Danny Leeming’s social studies class, Sirois and other students wondered what more they could do.

“We wanted to focus our energy on one thing really [that] would make something real, that would leave a lasting impact on the school after we left,” said Sirois.

Leeming said he had heard from his students that they were more interested in working on projects that mitigate climate change rather than just learning the science behind it. The solar panel project, he said, makes it easy for students to contribute.

The group came up with four ideas and in the spring of 2020 made a presentation to school board, but less than a month later the pandemic delayed their ambitions.

Instead of scrapping their plans, the students spent the next year focusing on one of the ideas for a solar panel installation before returning to the board earlier this month. The presentation so impressed the board that a special vote was held so the project could be added at the last minute to next year’s budget.

It was the rare time bureaucracy didn’t impede climate change action, Sirois lamented.

“I think it’s always been kind of confusing for me … just wondering why aren’t we doing more, what else could we be doing?” she said. “And then when you’re actually trying to generate change, it’s so hard to convince people and you have to push so hard.”

Deity Daunheimer joined the Green Team this year. As a test case, she decided to sell baked goods to see how much she could raise.

By the end of the day, Daunheimer already had enough for one panel.

The importance of the project, she said, is something that she will take to university next year and beyond.

“I think just as an individual it’s important to just express your thoughts and be a part of making a better community for everybody else.”

To make a donation to Mount Sentinel’s solar panel project, click here to visit the Green Team’s Gofundme page.

READ MORE:

Unable to perform live, L.V. Rogers jazz group instead records debut album

‘Pretty awesome’: Nelson-area student advocates for school to improve outdoor accessibility

@tyler_harper | tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Climate changeEnvironmentsolar panelsStudents

Just Posted

Forty sled dogs were seized by the BC SPCA from a Salmo kennel in February. A recent ruling has decided the dogs won’t be returned. Photo: Gounsil/Flickr
BC Farm Industry Review Board rules against Salmo kennel after 40 sled dogs seized

Spirit of the North Kennels was also ordered to pay BC SPCA $64,000

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

SD20 now has an electric bus. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay-Columbia School District 20 adds electric bus to fleet

Bus will be incorporated into Castlegar route for next school year

Painting by Dave Davies from Shaver’s Bench facing Teck Trail.
Happy 120th Birthday to the City of Trail!

The town of Trail Creek- or Trail Creek Landing - was incorporated as a city on June 14, 1901.

Cropped photo: Silver Screen Drive-in will be in the upper parking lot of Waneta Plaza.
Summer drive-in returns to Trail unveiling blockbuster movies

PHOTOS: Scroll to bottom for a trip down memory lane to the Auto Vue Drive-In

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Police cars are seen parked outside Vancouver Police Department headquarters on Saturday, January 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police officer charged with assault during an arrest in 2019

The service has released no other details about the allegations

Denmark’s Christian Eriksen receives medical attention after collapsing during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Finland at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Saturday, June 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, Pool)
Christian Eriksen in stable condition, Euro 2020 match resumes

Eriksen was given chest compressions after collapsing on the field during a European Championship

Members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Marine Mammal Response Program rescued an adult humpback what that was entangled in commercial fishing gear in the waters off of Entrance Island on Thursday, June 10. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Response Program)
Rescuers free humpback ‘anchored’ down by prawn traps off Vancouver Island

Department of Fisheries and Oceans responders spend hours untangling whale

As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
2 sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip says the child welfare system takes Indigenous children from their families

Nathan Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni, shares his story of substance use, a perspective he said isn’t seen enough. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Watts)
Public shaming, hate perpetuates further substance use: UVic researcher

Longtime addict Nathan Watts offers a user’s perspective on substance use

Most Read