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Mackintosh Academy Littleton students made big news on last week as they celebrated the installation of 97 solar panels on the rooftops of three campus buildings.  When we flip the switch sometime in the coming week, Mack-Littleton will be one of the few schools in the nation to receive the majority of its electrical power (up to 70%) from solar.

The solar panel project was funded by a $95,950 service-learning grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board and installed by Bella Energy. Mackintosh students were especially excited to see this solar project go live because this initiative was entirely student-driven.

Six 6th grade students wrote the grant as part of the student-led service initiative for their 2014 International Baccalaureate (IB) Exhibition Project. The grant funded the purchase and installation of solar panels on all three Littleton campus buildings. While teachers Joe Pausback and Nancy Muhich, as well as former Assistant Head of School Linda Downey-Turner, assisted in the effort, the drive for change came directly from the students. The grant opportunity is available each year and typically awarded to high school students. These motivated 6th graders worked hard and submitted their application, and now, their work and will leave a lasting legacy for the school.

The now-7th graders reflect on the impact they are having on their school. Skyler Bernard comments, “It’s a miracle.  It’s like something out of a dream.  I can look up at the solar panels and think ‘We did this!’ It may seem small to everyone else, but, to us, it means the world.” Her classmate Delia Guilbert says, “Can I just say WOW! Realizing that we actually got the grant seemed so unreal, I could hardly believe it.  But with the solar panels being almost up, it just brings to light this amazing accomplishment.” Sydney Gelman adds, “I feel like I have helped the school and that Mackintosh will have these for a long while. It’s almost like leaving my handprint in the cement.” Because these students have one more year at Mackintosh before they graduate, they will be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

“This is a wonderful example of what students can do when they are empowered,” says Mackintosh Littleton Head of School, Diane Dunne. “The solar panels will reduce the school’s energy use by over 40,000 kilowatt hours. As a result, 40,000 pounds of coal a year will stay in the ground, significantly lowering the carbon footprint of our school and cutting the electricity bill at the school by up to 70%.”

Beyond the environmental impact, the student project will also enhance the school’s education and equity missions. The project includes multiple facets of continued education for students and the larger community. For example, the science curriculum will now involve monitoring and evaluating data from solar energy in real-time, which will continue for years to come. Mackintosh Academy is also looking to partner with the National Energy Renewal Laboratory to develop a curriculum to educate other students and community members about the power and potential of solar to solve energy problems and reduce impacts on the earth. Some of the earned savings from migrating to solar power will enhance the school’s equity mission by providing tuition assistance and scholarships.

The ribbon cutting celebration will take place from 12 pm to 1 pm on Thursday, April 16 and will feature a solar fountain, hands-on displays for students, and a repeat student musical performance of the “Solar Medley” they performed at the fall celebration.  Representatives from State Farm and Bella Energy will be in attendance.

Mackintosh Academy was one of 65 community organizations to receive a service-learning, youth-led grant across the United States and Canada. The State Farm Youth Advisory Board has granted over $32 million in grant money since its inception in 2006, empowering youth to implement service-learning in 520 communities.

About Mackintosh Academy:

Mackintosh Academy is an accredited IB World School with a gifted and creative focus.  As a next generation preparatory school serving pre-K through 8th grade, Mackintosh nurtures the unique genius in every child so that they can contribute to a world that needs them.  Mackintosh students become leaders, innovators, change makers, and experts in their chosen field as well as contributing global citizens.  The school has two Colorado campuses (Boulder and Littleton).  Find out more at www.mackintoshacademy.com or for admissions information, please contact Beth Stecklac (Beth@MackintoshAcademy.com)

About State Farm®: 
State Farm and its affiliates are the largest provider of car insurance in the U.S. and is a leading insurer in Canada. In addition to providing auto insurance quotes, their 17,800 agents and more than 65,000 employees serve 81 million policies and accounts – more than 79 million auto, home, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and nearly 2 million bank accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is also available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 43 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com or in Canada http://www.statefarm.ca.

About the Youth Advisory Board: The State Farm Youth Advisory Board is a diverse group of 30 youth, ages 17-20, who were chosen through a competitive process to lead and oversee this $5 million/year signature service-learning initiative. The Youth Board identified the issues, issued competitive grants and will now provide technical assistance, communication and oversight to site grantees.

About Bella Energy: Bella Energy, Inc. is a national renewable energy developer and builder headquartered in Louisville, Colorado, with over 600 projects totaling over 12MW. Since 1982, Bella has empowered businesses, schools, governments and communities to reduce energy costs, embrace a sustainable future and contribute to the clean energy economy.  Find out more at www.BellaEnergy.com

Mackintosh Academy Littleton