North Carolina Students Speak Out for Solar

Brooklyn, Maya and Rachel - photo credit Ahmer Inam

“Parents, teachers and students throughout the Charlotte, NC region are calling upon the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board of Education to commit to powering every school in the district with clean energy. This is no longer just an environmental issue – affordable solar energy will boost school budgets, protect our children’s health and prepare them for the future.” ~ Greenpeace’s Repower Our Schools

That’s why Brooklyn, Maya and Rachel of Providence High School in Charlotte, NC jumped at the opportunity to raise their voices on this issue. The three environmental club officers spoke about their hopes and ideas on a community panel at the Repower Our Schools campaign launch on January 29. Here is Brooklyn’s reflection on the event.

What made us interested in speaking in this panel was a deep rooted passion towards saving our planet. We are all officers of the environmental club at Providence High School and work hard to stay active in our community. We participate in volunteer work such as helping out Promising Pages, and love spreading the word on important issues like air quality, climate change and solar energy. We believe that knowledge is power, and it’s events such as this one that gives people the knowledge to bring about necessary revolutionary changes to their own communities.

When planning our speech, we focused on our concerns that people might have, especially around the budget. For example, if schools stopped using paper and ink, printing costs would be significantly decreased. Alternatives to printing class materials included using Google classroom and related sites like Schoology.

We also had to come up with a way to grab people’s attention with emotion. People ought to know why climate change matters to them. We accomplished this by having Maya tell a personal anecdote about her childhood and how poor air quality contributed to her frequent hospital visits. Parents could then understand how clean air affects them and their children and how important it is for them to join the discussion. We then pointed out that solar panels use clean renewable energy from the sun, unlike fossils fuels that are non-renewable and have serious negative impacts on the environment.

As officers of our environmental club, speaking comes easily. We are outgoing and do not mind large crowds but even we get a little nervous. While we’d spoken in front of our classmates, this was our first experience speaking in front of a large group of people from our community. We were all feeling a little nervous and unprepared but when it came time to speak, we calmed down and everything fell into place. We spoke from the heart and we believe that that’s what matters. We care strongly about clean air and solar panels and it was our duty to speak up for students at our school and our community. It was an amazing experience to be able to have people listen to us and actually care about what we had to say.

This event has definitely impacted all of us. It opened our eyes to how much air quality is impacted by the burning of fossil fuels. We realize now that solar panels for our school is not a crazy idea; it is possible. Not only should we install solar panels at our school, we should also integrate them into the school curriculum so students can learn about the benefits of clean energy. We have plans to speak at future events and will continue to advocate for solar panels in schools and communities. It would be great to see solar panels at our school. Even if we don’t get solar panels at our school this year, we will encourage the environmental club members to continue pushing for them and to speak at more events. We are hopeful that students will have the courage to follow our lead and join us in our cause.