Schools chief challenges students to cut energy costs

Shenandoah County Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Raley challenges sixth graders at North Fork Middle School to out-do last year's class on an alternative energy project. Rich Cooley/Daily

QUICKSBURG – “I want to challenge you to see if you can help me,” Shenandoah County Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Raley told sixth graders at North Fork Middle School on Friday.

Raley asked the students to figure out a way to reduce the school’s energy costs by using alternative energy sources to power one of the school’s classrooms.

“Each and every one of you are engineers,” Raley said. “You’re gonna work as a research and development team.”

He encouraged them to be creative and take risks.

“I don’t want to restrict you in any way,” he said.

Raley issued a similar challenge to last year’s sixth grade classes in an effort to integrate alternative energy sources at the middle school to reduce energy costs and create a net-zero classroom.

A net-zero classroom is one that doesn’t use energy from other locations. Instead, it provides the energy. This can come in the form of solar, wind, water, or geothermal energies.

“I was totally impressed,” Raley said about last year’s efforts to make the idea a reality. “I know that you can raise the bar,” he told this year’s sixth graders.

Last year, students discussed how to repurpose an unused alternative education modular classroom behind the school into a net-zero science classroom. The classroom will be powered by solar and wind energy and will be an off-grid system.

Students also sent proposals to the Center for Wind Energy at James Madison University to form a partnership on wind and solar energy systems.

The plan created by last year’s sixth graders will be put into action on Oct. 16 when a meteorological tower will be installed, with JMU’s help, at the middle school, and students will begin analysis on data they collect.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com