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Deer Meadow earns $5,000 in Duke Energy Challenge

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dawn Horth with Duke Energy presents a $10,000 check to Deer Meadow Elementary School Principal Gwen Morris as Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray, Steve Bahr with Duke Energy and Mike Schimpf (Greencastle School Corporation energy czar) look on. Deer Meadow was the winner in an energy challenge contest and will get to keep $5,000. Each of the other schools in the corporation will receive $1,250 each.
GREENCASTLE -- Students at Deer Meadow Elementary School not only learned a lot about energy conservation, they also earned $5,000 for their school. They are the winners of the Duke Energy-sponsored Energy Challenge.

Coordinator for the event was Greencastle School Corporation's "Energy Czar" and Sustainability Commission member Mike Schimpf. He told students how proud he was of their hard work.

"You guys did a great job. You did fantastic. You beat out all the other schools. Good job!" said Schimpf.

The eight-week project was 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 further encouraged students and school personnel to reduce energy consumption in school facilities.

Greencastle Mayor Sue Murray reminded students that the energy initiative began at Deer Meadow in Mrs. Carr's class.

"You are the youngest students in Greencastle and you beat out all those older students who are graduating next month," she said.

Steve Bahr and Dawn Horth with Duke Energy brought three students and three teachers up front to demonstrate by riding a bicycle how much energy it takes to light different bulbs, and to run fans and hair dryers.

They were kindergartener Austin Hasler, first grader Grant Brown and second grader Jordan Meyer. Teachers were Mrs. Ames, Mrs. Sclatter and Mrs. Riggle. Even school principal Gwen Morris got on the bike after students chanted for her.

Schools participating in this competition included 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.

Greencastle High School came in second in the competition. Each school will receive $1,250, and Deer Meadow gets $5,000. The total grant of $10,000 was provided entirely by Duke.

Some examples of energy-saving measures utilized by the schools include shutting down computers each day or when not in use; decreasing hallway, classroom and gymnasium lighting when possible; and using additional insulation on door thresholds and in other areas

Jordan Meyer, a second grader at Deer Meadow Elementary School, pedals hard to light up the board to show how much energy it takes to turn on lights, fans and blow dryers.
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.

Bahr summed up the presentation by reminding students about safety.

"Remember, if you see any line on the ground or can touch it, stay away from it. You can't smell electricity or see it or even hear it. So, promise me you will stay away," he said.

Officials from both the school corporation and Duke have expressed their pride in what the GCSC students were able to accomplish.

"This competition was a great way to increase energy awareness amongst the student population," Schimpf said. "The success of the competition reveals a desire to become increasingly conscientious in regard to energy consumption. We are so thankful for Duke Energy's willingness to supply grant funding as incentive for the school's pilot of this program."

"In a short amount of time, Greencastle schools have demonstrated ways to save energy and money," said Bahr. "Our hope is that students practice energy efficiency throughout their lives and share what they've learned with their families as well."

The total decrease in consumption over the eight-week period was over 70,000 KWH as compared to the three-year average covering the same period of time. That amount of energy would be enough to power an average size home for six years.

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