Has Fairmont embraced the ‘going green’ revolution?

Has Fairmont embraced the going green revolution?

Environmental Science teacher Richard Kappel displays plants and a solar cell phone charger in his classroom.

“You say you want a revolution / Well, you know / We all want to change the world…”

John Lennon and Paul McCartney weren’t the first to acknowledge the desire for revolutionary change, and they won’t be the last. Revolutions come in all shapes and sizes – political, cultural, technological, economic and more – and while some revolutions have stormed the world, others died quietly.

But what about the “going green” revolution?  It’s gotten a lot of attention, most significantly from Al Gore’s 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, which aimed to make the issue of global warming a recognized worldwide problem. And President Barack Obama, a clean-energy advocate, has taken a great interest in the “going green” revolution.

But what does it mean, exactly, to go green?

“Going green is just making an extra effort to be more environmentally conscious … turning off lights more, driving less, that kind of thing,” says Richard Kappel, an Environmental Science teacher at Fairmont High School.  

In fact, “going green” is likely just a more trendy term for environmentalism, which Merriam-Webster defines asadvocacy of the preservation, restoration, or improvement of the natural environment; especially: the movement to control pollution.”

“Going green” also sounds a little more personal, as in: What can you do to help?

So, is anyone at Fairmont caught up in this revolution?

Bringing attention

Well, if nothing else, Fairmont certainly has given students clues about ways to go green. “Fairmont brings the environment to students’ attention. There are more posters around the school about it,” said Sophomore Class Council member Jessica Carey.

There are also classes like Environmental Science, but are students really getting the message?

“I think that we’re cleaner than we used to be. They now have recycling bins, for example, which I use. We’re also more aware,” junior Mallory Yount said.

That awareness of the environment can extend from recycling at school to other areas, such as reducing gas and energy use. There are even alternate forms of energy, such as wind, solar and hydro-power.

The Flyer surveyed students to gauge Fairmont students’ interest in going green. Of the 26 students who responded, 14 said they recycle: six recycle at home only, two recycle only at school, and only two said they recycle at both places. Four students said that they recycle, but didn’t specify how.

Also, 14 students said they make efforts to cut down on gas usage in various ways: carpooling, walking or biking to places that are close instead of driving, and planning errands to use less gas.

Three students also said they go green other ways: one person said he helps clean parks in Dayton and two said they use another means of electricity: the sun.

“I don’t have access to solar power, but I would like to use it. It’s a great improvement over traditional types of energy,” junior Steven Molden said.

Phil Jones, a former Chillicothe science teacher who grew up in Kettering, agrees. “Wind power and solar power are two alternative energy sources that are making their way into headlines, but are still at the point where they can be perfected,” he said.

Perfected or not, there are plenty of advantages over traditional power sources.

“One advantage of solar power is that it’s more accessible, especially in sunny places. The only thing is that on overcast days, you can’t generate power, but that’s what batteries are for,” said Molden.

Kappel is a big advocate of solar power. He says the solar panels he has on his home not only save him money, they give him money.

Kappel said his solar panels produce more than enough electricity for his house, and the excess power flows back into the power grid. Instead of getting a bill for his electricity, the Dayton Power and Light Company sends him a check for the excess power they get.

Getting the message?

Kappel thinks that it’s not only Fairmont, but the world, that needs to – and may be getting – the message. “Fairmont is better and greener than in the past, but the world is a mixed sentiment,” he said. “Yes, there’s bigger awareness and more recyclable materials, but there’s also more consumption and increasing populations.”

But Kappel still thinks Fairmont is making progress in going green.

“I think that we have done great since, say, five years ago. We’re recycling office paper instead of just cardboard, which is an improvement.”

But English teacher Josh Oliver, who advises the Earth Corps club at Fairmont, would like to see Fairmont do a lot more to go green.

“In all honesty, I have to say that Fairmont is only somewhat going green,” Oliver said. “Maybe half of the classrooms and offices have paper recycling bins; these have been provided free by Earth Corps. So there is some greening of the school that has happened over the past 10 years.”

However, Oliver says the recycling of glass, plastic, and aluminum is another matter. “At present, the school doesn’t have a platform in place to recycle these items on a large scale, such as in the cafeteria,” he said. “Some classrooms have recycling containers for these items, provided by those teachers.”

Oliver said Earth Corps and the district have looked into ways to begin recycling on a larger scale, but no decisions have been made. “Hopefully in the next couple years, Fairmont can have a full-fledged recycling program,” the East Unit teacher said.

Jones acknowledged that he’s not connected with Fairmont, so he couldn’t speak to the recycling efforts within the school. But he said the Kettering community’s reputation for forward-thinking bodes well for the future.

“I think that if Fairmont hasn’t gone green, it will soon,” he said. “Kettering has always been on top of things, and with ‘going green’ taking the world by storm, the schools will follow.”