Impressions of St. Philip the Apostle School’s Solarbration

By Nick Poplawski

On a beautiful Tuesday afternoon last week, I had a chance to attend my very first Solarbration, and I was impressed!  St. Philip the Apostle School put on a great set of events for the students, and gave them a hands on experience with solar PV and solar thermal technology.  Based in Addison, Garrett Schweikhofer of SunHeat Solar Inc. was kind enough to bring flat plate and evacuated tube solar water heating systems, as well as some small solar PV panels, to show the students what everything looked like up close.  He was also giving each group a quick lesson on solar technology.  Classes made solar cookers to cook s’mores too.  I didn’t have a chance to eat them, but they looked delicious!

Dawn O’Brien, the Development director, was also on duty, making sure the kids were learning and getting the most out of the experience.  She had been a catalyst for many energy improvements at the school.  Denise Sedlak, the Principal was also taking part in the festivities.  Reporter Anna Madrzyk and photographer Tanit Jarusan from the Daily Herald were there as well.  They were covering the school’s role in greening the community, as well as its own facility.  Three 8th grade girls played a role in not only transforming the recycling habits of the school, but of the entire community.    Dana Gattone, Angel Loizzo, and Maggie O’Brien’s research project on recycling methods helped put recycling to the forefront of Addison’s sustainability efforts.

After lunch, the entire school had an assembly, with kindergarteners singing songs about solar energy, and a video presentation of “Powershift,” a film about sustainable energy.  Illinois State Representative Dennis Reboletti came for the assembly and explained the importance of clean energy education to the students.

Overall, it was a great experience.  I’m really excited to see so much enthusiasm for clean energy and environmental stewardship.  It is absolutely critical that the next generation of leaders are familiar with these issues, as they will face them in ways we can only imagine.

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