Glebe Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia is simply a happy place. From my first step into the building, with its flamingo-pink walls and pet turtles (“please wash your hands after touching the turtles” suggested a sign in lobby), the school hummed with peaceful purpose. And the sense of focused calm went beyond the reason for my visit — celebrating the installation of a small, educational solar array. Even after the outdoor assembly had concluded, I felt a coordinated commitment to making learning joyful.
Glebe Elementary Principal, Jamie Borg, celebrating the first SolarWorld Solar2Schools installation
My role at Glebe was to help the school community celebrate SolarWorld’s first Solar2Schools initiative, and to thank the many people and organizations that made the installation of the 1.1 kilowatt system possible. Fortunately for all, it was a postcard perfect autumn morning, the sun shining warmly with not a cloud in the sky, as all 570 students, their teachers, a handful of smiling parents, and a gaggle of dignitaries gathered on the school field, accompanied by the 5th grade music ensemble, drumming under the new SolarWorld solar awning.
5th graders at Glebe Elementary drumming under the new SolarWorld solar awing
After remarks from Principal Jamie Borg and a few others, it was my turn to speak. I gave Astrum Solar, our installation partner, heartfelt thanks for their hard work on the project, and pointed out to the kids that the solar panels we were all looking at would still be there, generating clean renewable energy, in 25 years when they come back with their own kids to see the school they attended as youngsters.
Jamie Borg, Principal of Glebe Elementary School, interviews with local news station about SolarWorld Solar2Schools program
Then, channeling my own four boys and their delight in getting adults to look slightly silly, I led the school board members, PTA leaders, state elected officials, and yes, even Congressman Jim Moran, in singing, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are gray. You’ll never know dear, how much I love you. Please don’t take my sunshine away.”
Amy Keiter addressing the audience
Another form of alternative energy, the wind, blew over my SolarWorld banner, but by that time we were ready for the ribbon-cutting. The ceremonial scissors were almost as tall as the handsome, confident pre-teen who wielded them, with some assistance by Congressman Moran. As I packed up my scattered belongings, shamelessly eavesdropping, I was delighted to hear school administrators and parents scheming to add more solar panels to the school. “They look like they belong here,” said one of the Arlington School District facilities manager, with apparent surprise.
Glebe Elementary's Student Body President gets ribbon-cutting honors
The National Energy Education Development project (www.need.org) will be SolarWorld’s partner on the education component of our Solar2Schools efforts, and Duncan and Jacob at Astrum Solar told me they’re willing participate in another Solar2Schools project, so I haven’t alienated anyone yet.
Loading my gear into the taxi for the trip to the airport and home to Oregon, I felt like I was in the closing scene of a movie. The credits should roll as the cab pulled away from the school, the kids playing happily on the field, the sun streaming through the brightly colored trees. Cue the music. Reprise. “You are my sunshine…”