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      School turns to solar power for electricity

      Students at Sacred Heart School in L'Anse have some changes to their curriculum and and a new building addition in their future.

      The nearly 50 students at the K-7 school are really in for a treat. Their Principal, Dr. Eric Grekowicz, says the school has developed a new science course that will benefit the students more than traditional science classes. And their new building addition goes hand in hand with the new class.

      "As a Catholic school, we're called to take care of nature. It was created for us but we're supposed to enhance, not destroy it. And this is a little way to help aid that," said Dr. Eric Grekowicz, Principal of Sacred Heart School.

      And enhancing, they are. The school has developed a new course replacing traditional science classes, called Nature Studies. As a large part of this course, the students will be studying solar energy, and how you can use the sun's solar rays to produce power.

      "The kids will be able to track the amount of power that's generated, correlated to the season, the time of day, the temperature, things like that and you can get a lot of science and math traction out of that," said Grekowicz.

      But to do that, you need a solar panel. So the school is holding a fundraiser, for as long as they need, to cover the $120,000 needed. The school will use the money to purchase a 25 kilowatt Solar Array, which will be a large solar panel on the roof of the school, as well as a 3.3 kilowatt Pole Mount PV, which is a 12 module solar panel situated on a pole on the ground. Once implemented, the two panels combined are expected to completely eliminate the school's electricity bills.

      "The colder the temperature is, the less resistance there is. And the less resistance, the higher the voltage. So the panels actually produce more power in cold weather than they do in warm weather," said Richard Henes, Solar Sales Specialist at Werner Electric Supply.

      To raise the money, the students will be selling solar items, such as lanterns, bulbs, flashlights, and chargers.

      "We're getting a lot of funding assistance through the U.P. Green Initiative and other initiatives out there that they're helping us find, so this is going to be a very cost effective solution for the school. And that's part of what we're doing is we're bringing awareness to that," said Henes.

      U.P. Green, a non-profit organization, is facilitating the fundraiser for the students. U.P. green offers solar and wind assessments throughout the U.P.

      Principal Grekowicz says U.P. Green has been instrumental in the quest for Sacred Heart to become solar powered.

      The students will be fundraising for the solar panels throughout the year. In the meantime, teachers plan to use the smaller solar items the students will be selling as educational tools to teach the children about the magic of solar power.