We are Shania Kruthoff and Keegan Johnston, two students at Jefferson High School in Sioux Falls. Together we designed a simple solar-based renewable energy project as part of our AP Environmental Science class. Keegan and I wanted to go further with the idea and decided to go for our big dream of making Jefferson High the first school in the country to be run by 50% renewable energy. We are starting with a pilot project on school property, located in the cold storage shed. We have worked closely with Ms. Melissa Hittner, our teacher; Mr. Dan Conrad, our Principal; Mr. Dennis Williams from Williams Power Systems and others to build on the work we did for our class. We now have a specific design, active involvement, and support from Mr. Conrad and the relevant staff of the Sioux Falls School System. Mr. Williams has committed to managing and installing our pilot solar system. To make this dream a reality, we need your help. We are looking to raise $21,700 by July 21st, 2023. We know this is a short timeframe, but it is necessary as we want to go live with this project before the 2023- 2024 school year starts on August 24th, 2023.
Keegan Johnston is a recent 2023 Jefferson graduate, and Shania Kruthoff is a rising senior at Jefferson. As noted during the 2022 - 2023 school year, we completed a project about sustainable energy in AP Environmental Science class. Although only tasked with a presentation, we saw the opportunity to pursue change within the Sioux Falls School District by implementing a solar renewable energy project. Our area of focus aims to incorporate solar panels at Jefferson High School, providing a student learning opportunity while making the Sioux Falls School district more environmentally friendly and sustainable. We have successfully secured approval for an initial pilot project placing solar panels on Sioux Falls Jefferson High School's cold storage shed. In addition to the persons listed above, we have worked closely with Michael Heisler, MD, MPH (community partner and chair of the steering committee of SoDak 350) and Ms. Dawn Marie Johnson (Sioux Falls School Board Member) along with many others to build on the work that began in class.
Our design consists of fastening systems, a battery storage system, and the utilization of six solar PV panels mounted on the face of the on-property storage shed (quote and details attached below). Through the active involvement and support from Mr. Conrad and the appropriate staff within the Sioux Falls School System and a commitment from Mr. Williams to manage and install our pilot solar system, we are on pace to make our project a reality.
III. Impact and Measurable Outcomes
By introducing solar panels on Jefferson school grounds, our pilot project will let students learn about renewable energy and how it helps to reduce carbon footprint. Students can learn about the science behind solar panels, how they work, and how they generate electricity. Students are also learning the benefits of renewable energy and its environmental impact. Furthermore, the successful completion of this pilot project will set the stage for our full proposal; an expanding solar array that will provide 50% of the energy required by Jefferson High School.
This pilot project could be the first phase of the proposal: providing solar energy to meet at least 50% of the energy requirements for Jefferson High School. If that were to happen, it would set a remarkable example of what is possible, capture national attention, and send a message of hope to all South Dakotans and citizens across the U.S.