Clarksville Middle pupils move ahead on their plan to promote energy savings



Despite receiving the news last week that their school would receive the money necessary to begin a renovation project, sixth-graders at Clarksville Middle School are not done with their money-saving plan to promote energy efficiency.

The pupils, members of Sandy Vinje's sixth-grade Gifted-and-Talented Program science classes, conducted energy audits throughout the school as part of the Green Schools program, which teaches students about energy efficiency.

As a result of their audits, the pupils discovered that the school can reduce energy consumption by up to 14 percent, simply by turning off lights that are not being used.

Six pupils and two teachers spoke to the Board of Education on Thursday night and unveiled some of their findings at the meeting in hopes that those ideas can be adopted by the school system - and pay for other renovations of older schools.

Camille Calvin, 12, showed the board several commercials encouraging energy efficiency, which previously were shared with her Clarksville Middle School classmates.

"I thought it was good," Calvin said about the overall presentation.

Camille's mother, Veronica, was proud.

"I think it was a nice accomplishment," she said. The program "has helped us at home. The kids have utilized a lot of that."

Ricky Lasser, 12, who wrote the scripts and helped to produce several of the commercials, said energy conservation is important because it helps to identify where money is spent and where money can be saved.

Matt Lurie, also 12, a presenter and star of one of the commercials, said he was relieved that the school's renovation project is getting funded.

"The money is what we were looking for, and we got it," he said.

The group was a hit with the board.

"Who knows, we might be able to renovate many other schools," said board member Patricia Gordon.

Member Mary Kay Sigaty said the pupils, who also spoke to the County Council last weekend, probably had a big impact in the council's decision to restore $3 million to the system's capital budget enough to start the renovation. "We are proud of you," Sigaty said.

Board Chairman Joshua Kaufman, who said that the board is concerned with the price of energy, added that the school system already is over budget for energy use this year. He predicts that the same might happen next year.

"I applaud them for working to make their school more energy-efficient, saving money there, and taking their message to the rest of the county," Kaufman said. "Our facilities people are looking into the findings [right now]. I know that they will be speaking with the students to find out [if the program can be implemented at other schools.]"

McFadden on ESPN

Tatyana McFadden, 17, a sophomore wheelchair athlete at Atholton High School who went to court last month and won an order giving her the right to compete in a track meet with other high school athletes, will be featured on ESPN's Outside the Lines twice this week.

The first show, which will air 9:30 a.m. today, will feature a piece about McFadden, her life as a world-class wheelchair athlete and her legal struggle to race with nondisabled participants.

The second show, which will air at 12:20 a.m. Tuesday, will feature a question and answer segment featuring Scot Hollonbeck, track chairman for Wheelchair Track & Field USA.

Hosted by Bob Ley, Outside the Lines is a half-hour show dedicated to sports-related topics. The show usually attracts about a million viewers, said Dan Quinn, a spokesman for ESPN.

Tatyana probably will not be able to watch the show this morning because she will be competing in a wheelchair track meet in New Jersey. She is attempting to qualify for the junior nationals wheelchair track competition, said her mother, Deborah.

"We'll tape it, and when she comes home, ... we'll watch it together," Deborah McFadden said.

She said her daughter is more concerned about the impact that the show will have on other wheelchair athletes than with personal attention.

"When I told her that 1 million people watch the show, she said, `Does this mean that other kids will get to run?'" Deborah McFadden said. "She's genuine about that."

Tatyana said she hopes the show will encourage other wheelchair athletes to participate in sports and speak out for their rights.

"As they watch, maybe they will think they can do the same thing," she said. "Hopefully, they will understand and get involved."

Talks on autism

The Hammond Elementary School community will get first-hand insight into the world of autism tomorrow when Marty Murphy, a woman with autism who regularly tours the country, gives two talks.

Murphy, who will speak about her experiences with autism, first will address the school's staff from 3:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. The "informal" session will allow staff to ask specific questions about autism, said Mia Severin, a special-education team leader at the school.

Murphy will also speak to a larger audience from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Severin said that she also expects a group of educators from Anne Arundel County to attend the evening session.

Murphy is expected to offer suggestions and insights about working with autistic children.

"It's very rare that you have a person with autism that will stand up and speak in front of a large group of people with wit and insight," said Severin. "She's very witty."

One in every 166 children is diagnosed with autism, said Severin - more than the number diagnosed with juvenile diabetes or cancer, she said.

The event is free to parents from Hammond Elementary and Hammond Middle schools and school system employees. Those with questions can contact Severin at 410-880-5890.

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