Saint Malachy School sees the light


Story submitted by the team at Saint Malachy

Everyday sunlight strikes a portion of earth for 7 to 8 hours. Solar energy is the most abundant energy resource in the world. The sun delivers 4 million watts of energy to an acre of surface on a sunny day. If the sun had shown for 8 hours on an acre of soil in your back yard yesterday, it would have received enough solar energy to generate 32,000 kilowatts hours of energy. It would only take about 5.5 acres of sunshine to provide Geneseo with all it’s daily power requirements if we could find efficient methods of converting, storing and transmitting solar energy to electricity for Geneseo residents.

Saint Malachy School students, led by Mrs. Franque’s sixth grade class, are going to study how a photovoltaic cell solar system reaches out to collect sunlight and convert it to electrical power for school use. Classroom lessons designed around a solar energy collector will include mathematics, accounting, chemistry, physics, computer technology, and meteorology. Students will have “hands on” interaction with more ecologically responsible technology tracking how power generation is affected by sun angles, cloudiness, length of day, air temperature, and equipment efficiency.

Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation granted Saint Malachy School the money needed to purchase and install a new solar collector system and Commonwealth Edison is helping to pay for the teacher training workshops and the Illinois Solar School Program administration. 

Dave Merrill of Sunair Systems from Byron, Illinois supplied and installed the new equipment on September 11, 2008. Father Pakula is Pastor of Saint Malachy Catholic Parish and School and Stan Griffin is principal of this K-6 grade parochial school located on I-80 just 20 miles East of the Mississippi River. This beautiful church/school campus is used to educate 120 children with the dedication of 11 teachers and 3 aids. 

Gregg Swanson, Building and Grounds Maintenance Supervisor said that the One Kilowatt System has provided about 55kWh of energy in the first 18 days of operation, saving the Parish almost $11.00. One classroom can be lighted with the power generated by the new solar system on a sunny day.

Other schools in the area who have similar solar collection systems are


  • Logan Junior High School: Princeton, Illinois
  • Alwood School: Woodhull, Illinois
  • Nelson Elementary School: Nelson, Illinois


You may go to the following websites to gain more information on solar collection systems:

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