Solar Panel Request Made

Published 3:59 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2012

CUMBERLAND – Students in the Cumberland High School sustainability and renewable technologies course presented a proposition to the School Board in April that would take the Cumberland school division another “green” step into the future. The students requested that the School Board look into the possibility of placing solar panels on a portion of the Middle/High School complex as an energy saving and educational opportunity.

“What you are going to see is a bonafide proposal,” explained Angela Whittaker, the sustainability and renewable technologies teacher, to the School Board. “They are very serious in their request to you. It is solid numbers based on a company called Rock Solar…”

As part of her course, the students completed an in-depth study of solar energy and the use of solar panels as a method of collecting sunlight to be converted to energy. As a culminating project to demonstrate learning, students were given the assignment of researching solar energy and preparing a formal proposal for a “Photovoltaic” system for the Cumberland High School complex, according to Whittaker.

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Rock Solar's warehouse for its company, according to Whittaker, is housed in Buckingham County and the main office is located in Charlottesville.

“They are right here in Virginia. They service mostly in Virginia,” noted Whittaker about Rock Solar being a localized company. Rock Solar is also the company that installed the school's new cistern.

After first presenting their proposal to staff in Cumberland's Central Office, Superintendent Dr. Amy Griffin requested that the students make their formal request to the School Board.

The presentation to the School Board members provided information on what would be needed to implement the solar panels at the High School, the savings in electricity, and the cost of installation.

“We are respectfully requesting the School Board and administrators to consider the benefits of solar energy to the High School and Middle School complex,” advised one of the students during the presentation.

The students noted that the nine-panel system proposed for the school would be utilized as an educational component.

“Our school would benefit from installing this system by reducing our carbon footprint and we'll be a role model to the community,” noted another student. “Educational benefits will be offered to all grade levels.”

The students worked with an allotted budget for the proposal and the cost of the solar panel bid received from Rock Solar is just under $10,000, according to the presentation. The system being proposed by the students is a 2kw system.

“A 2kw system would never be enough to power the whole school but it would cut down on the carbon emit ions and some of the energy costs,” answered one student when asked a question by George Dowdy, School Board member.

As far as the students have researched, no other school in Cumberland's region utilizes solar panels, according to the presentation, and Cumberland would be the first.

According to Dr. Griffin, if the solar panel proposal were to be accepted in the future, the school's administration would “go through the proper procedures” by requesting having a total of two informal bids because the project would total less than $10,000.

“Mr. (Chip) Jones and I will be looking at what different opportunities we have with different grants we have to be able to see what we can do with this endeavor and make further recommendations to the School Board in the future,” advised Dr. Griffin. “It's a great Earth Day presentation to be looking at, what we can really do to better our environment and it was a great project for you all.”

In Other School News

The School Board approved the Career and Technical Education Local Plan for 2012-2013. The plan was first introduced to the Board's members last month.

They also approved the Special Education Annual Plan and Title VI-B and VI-B Incentive Plan for 2012-2013. This was also presented last month as a first read item.

The School Board recommended Dr. Christine Ross to the VSBA Region VIII secretary position. To serve as a VSBA Regional VIII Officer a nominee must be discussed and approved by the School Board during a scheduled meeting and Dr. Ross agreed that she would accept a nomination to be considered by the VSBA region as secretary.

The school division's Technology Plan was presented to the Board as a first read item and approval is set for next month.

According to Elizabeth Jamerson, supervisor of human resources, the Department of Education requires that each school division have in place a long-range technology plan that meets the state's guidelines. The Technology Plan Committee, which is composed of students, teachers, parents, administrators, technology personnel, community members, and local business people reviewed and developed the plan, she said.

The Supervisor of Special Education, Bernice Ford, also presented the Talented and Gifted Plan as a first read item. The plan will be up for approval next month.

Ms. Ford did explain to the Board members that the plan is formatted differently this year by the Department of Education and that the length is longer than in the past.

SVRTC Awards

Cumberland was well represented at the Southside Virginia Regional Technology Consortium Awards recently held. Gail Doss was awarded the Technology Support Award for the Elementary School; Charles Motter was awarded the Technology Support Award for the Middle School; and Stephanie Lennon was awarded the Technology Teacher Award for the High School. Cumberland County Public Schools, represented by Dr. Amy Griffin, superintendent, received the top honor for the consortium awards receiving the Technology Leadership Award.


The School Board recognized a student from each school as Students of The Month. Ayana Speas was the Elementary School's honoree; Jalen Williams was the Middle School's representative; and Alexis Cole was the student of the month for the High School.

The Meet the Staff honor, during the recognition segment of the meeting, went to Mary Trent. Trent is a new custodian at the Elementary School.

The division's spelling bee participants and winner were also introduced during the meeting.

Participants in the Division Spelling Bee included: Brian Simpson, Grade 4; Michaela Woodson (Division Winner), Grade 5; Reese Summerall, Grade 7; Dylan Myers, Grade 2; Amutal Fulani, Grade 8; and Rakwon Minter, Grade 3. Preston Sutton was also a Division Spelling Bee participant.

Tiana Branch, Grade 12, was recognized for receiving the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Good Citizen Award. In order to be eligible for the award, she completed an application, essay, and recommendation process.

Robert D. Fowler was presented as the Meet the Community person of the month.

Fowler has been a resident of Cumberland County since 1994. He is married to Pamela Fowler, the Cumberland High School Nursing instructor. They are the parents of two daughters, Heather, a student at JMU and the 2011 Salutatorian of Cumberland High School, and Kasie, who attends Cumberland Middle School, according to Ms. Jamerson.

Fowler founded Absolute Mechanical Inc., which is now located on Anderson Highway in Cumberland. The company provides air conditioning, heating, refrigeration, service repairs, and new installation for residential and commercial customers in and around Cumberland and across the state of Virginia.

Cumberland Elementary School yearbook design winners were also introduced to the School Board. Those that participated in the design of the yearbook include: Jaden Davis, Kindergarten; Hunter Harris, Pre-K; Amber Bruce, Grade 5; Ayana Speas, Grade 5; Ella Hobson, Grade 2; Cameron Ingram, Grade 1; Raheema Fulani, Grade 3; and Abigail Heath, Grade 5.

Three students' art was shown during the Virginia School Board Association's recent meeting, according to the presentation. The students responsible for the art were introduced during the School Board's meeting.

The students recognized for having their artwork selected include: Eli Whaley, Grade 5; Marya Elasha, Grade 8; and Hannah Elstun, Grade 12.