Instead of using paper and pencils, students at Deer Meadow are using magnetic doodle boards. Second graders in Julie Carr's class remind her to turn her computer monitor off when she isn't using it in order to conserve energy.
The recent movement in saving energy is part of a new challenge presented by Duke Energy. Greencastle and Duke have partnered to raise awareness of energy efficiency among the city's youngest citizens.
Students in the five Greencastle schools, including Deer Meadow, have embarked on an eight-week competition to learn how to conserve energy, while at the same time competing for cash prizes for their respective schools.
Called the "Energy Challenge," the project is designed to increase awareness of energy conservation measures among students in kindergarten through 12th grade, while fostering practices that result in a reduction in the use of energy and resources.
The competition will further encourage students and school personnel to reduce energy consumption in school facilities.
"The City of Greencastle has made sustainability a high priority," said Greencastle City Mayor Sue Murray.
"We continually look for more energy efficient ways to conduct the city's business and protect our environment. This challenge in our schools represents the next logical step in encouraging sustainable practices in all of our community," Murray said.
"It also is the most recent outcome of the Sustainable Greencastle report created by more than 100 local citizens in March 2009," Murray continued.
The Indiana Association of Cities and Towns named Greencastle a Green Community of the Year in 2008 and 2009.
"Good habits take root when we're young," said Steve Bahr, Duke Energy area manager for Putnam County. "Raising awareness of energy efficiency among youth is important, and they bring ideas home to their families as well."
Schools participating in this competition include Deer Meadow, Ridpath Primary School, Tzouanakis Intermediate School, Greencastle Middle School and Greencastle High School. More than 2,000 students are enrolled in all five schools.
Duke Energy will award $5,000 to the school that reduces its electricity usage the most in the eight-week period, starting Thursday (when compared to the 3-year average for the same calendar period).
The company will also award $1,250 to each of the four remaining schools based on their reduced electricity usage. The awards will be made at the winning school during the week of April 19, which is also the week of Earth Day celebrations.
Mike Schimpf, Greencastle Sustainability Commission member and energy manager for the Greencastle Community School System said, "This is a fantastic opportunity for students to learn about cutting energy consumption. It is my desire that they continue to utilize these energy conservations practices at home."
In addition, all K-12 students in the Greencastle Community Schools received at least one piece of collateral material promoting energy-saving tips. Among these are individual watercolor sheets, coloring books, rulers and energy wheels.
The Greencastle School Energy Challenge officially began Thursday at Deer Meadow School.