Following an energy audit in 2017, the Arkansas Batesville High School decided to invest in solar energy. The money they saved after the investment was and is being used to give raises to teachers in the school. The building was outfitted with more than fourteen hundred solar panels when the audit showed that the school district could save more than two million dollars over the next twenty years.
The Solar Panels Reduced the Annual Energy Consumption of the School
The superintendent Michael Hester advocated using the money saved through solar power to pump up the teachers’ salaries and as a means to attract and retain staff. According to him, well-motivated teachers will also help attract and retain students in the age of school choice.
Once the solar panels were installed, the yearly energy consumption of the school district dropped by 1.6 million kilowatts. In just three years, this generated enough savings to turn the quarter-million budget deficit of the district into a $1.8 million surplus. Most importantly, a major part of the money saved this way is consistently going toward the salaries of the teachers. The raises per educator average between $2,000 and $3,000, showing that the project is a complete success.
The Success of the Batesville High School Project Has Had a Ripple Effect On the Region
Once the benefits of such an investment became clear, the project was replicated by many school districts around the area. At least twenty local school districts have emulated this model, and the numbers prove that they are on the right track.
Statistics from recent years show that school facilities are perfect candidates for solar conversion. Large campuses, in particular, spread out over wide areas, and that gives them plenty of ground to place solar panels. With enough solar power, schools can easily offset monthly utility bills or even switch to 100% renewable energy. Certainly, the success of the Batesville High School and the districts around it shows that this is a trend that might spread very fast.
High-School Student and 99-Year-Old Start an Unlikely Friendship
99-year-old Myrtle MacDonald and high-school student Jaelyn Bjornerud-Brown formed an unlikely friendship after being paired through a program that connects seniors with young people.
The elderly women signed up for the program after feeling isolated and lonely during the pandemic. She was paired with the 17-year-old Jaelyn, with whom she instantly connected over their common interest – nursing.
High-school students in British Columbia participate in the program because the time spent with seniors is added toward the volunteer hours they need for graduation. They’re supposed to spend 30 minutes per week with their elderly friends, but many go far beyond the expected minimum.
True Friendship Doesn’t Care about Age
In a recent interview, MacDonald shared that she found Jaelyn to be more interested and less in a hurry than she had anticipated. She also added that the 17-year-old filled an empty spot in her life. Jaelyn, on the other hand, commented that she not only loves talking to her new friend but also looks forward to their meetings. Their get-togethers last slightly more than an hour, and according to the teenager, time goes by so quickly.
MacDonald used to be a nurse and spent much of her life living and teaching in other parts of the world. Her stories are an inspiration to Jaelyn who wishes to become a nurse and help people in need.
The Program Received a Huge Positive Response from the Local Community
The program that created this wonderful friendship is managed by the Compassionate Neighbourhood Health Partners Society. Their goal was to help seniors deal with solitude while giving teenagers the opportunity to amass their volunteer hours. However, the success of the program surpassed expectations, according to its organizer Connie Stam.
The friendship between MacDonald and Bjornerud-Brown is a testament that age is only a number. Furthermore, it shows that spending time with the elderly can teach valuable lessons to teenagers whose life is just about to start.