School district hosts Earth Day Extravaganza

Eco-friendly projects displayed at Mountain Vista High School

Posted 4/29/19

The Douglas County School District celebrated Earth Day by showcasing innovative projects and honoring students for their efforts to promote sustainability. Mountain Vista High School in Highlands …

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School district hosts Earth Day Extravaganza

Eco-friendly projects displayed at Mountain Vista High School

Posted

The Douglas County School District celebrated Earth Day by showcasing innovative projects and honoring students for their efforts to promote sustainability.

Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch hosted the district’s Earth Day Extravaganza on April 24. Organized by DCSD’s Office of Sustainability — a group of more than 30 teachers and staff — the afternoon featured interactive table displays in the cafeteria and a guest presentation on gray wolf recovery in the West. The district recognized select students, staff and community members with eco-awards.

All the while Mountain Vista students and teachers wowed community members with two green projects that are relatively new to the school.

Electric car charging station

About a year ago, the high school installed the district’s first solar-powered, electric car charging station. Bolted in the front parking lot, the futuristic, white contraption can charge two cars at once. It’s only available to students during school hours, but community members are welcome to use it after 3 p.m. during the week and on weekends.

A group of six seniors in Lori Schwendeman’s AP environmental science class applied for a project-based learning grant that funded the project. The students tackled all aspects of grant writing. They formed a proposal, created a budget and made a final pitch. They figured that the future of cars would be electric and wanted to promote the switch over, Schwendeman said.

“I’m super proud of them,” Schwendeman said. “They put countless hours into getting it accomplished.”

In the past year the charging station has served 350 cars and produced 497 kilowatt hours of electricity, according to Schwendeman. Put into perspective, an average home uses three kilowatt hours of electricity per day.

Freight Farm

In the back of Mountain Vista sits a green, repurposed semi trailer. A step inside is sci-fi-like — strands of LED blue and red lights hang from the ceiling, illuminating vertical rows of heads of lettuce. Small plastic tubes filled with nutrients hang on the wall. The air is cool, humid.

Using a grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation, the school acquired the Freight Farm two years ago. The hydroponic garden produces 80 to 100 pounds of lettuce and herbs per week, using just 10 gallons of water per day.

Students in David Larsen’s agriculture business class oversee the process from start to finish. They track the growth and then package, market and sell the final product to staff and community members.

“We learn the basics of business,” said Maya Jones, a ninth-grader, “because we operate this as a business.”

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