Ruch Outdoor Community School turns to solar power

Ruch, Ore. — Ruch Outdoor Community School is the first public school in Jackson County turning to solar power. The school’s staff and students are hoping to harness the power of the sun for education and sustainability purposes.

“The students at Ruch, they have a can-do attitude,” middle school teacher Ryan King said. “There’s an energy with this group of kids and this, this student body that is– why not, they ask that question, ‘Why not?'”

When the Medford School District began asking its schools how they could become more sustainable, King says the students aimed as high as the sun.

“A couple students said, ‘What if we get solar? what if we get something radical like that?'” King said.

From there, students like Emma McRoy took over.

“We wrote letters to the superintendent, and then I think a year later, we got the ‘okay’ to do it,” McRoy said.

With a green light from the District, the students started writing more letters, including grants.

“Over the course of the five years, the District has really supported this project, not just financially, but just encouraging the students to vocalize this need,” King said. “Then the Blue Sky grant was kind of a slam-dunk for us to apply for.”

Pacific Power Blue Sky pledged $24,000 to the project. That funding will buy a 10-kilowatt unit, saving the school around $2,000 a year, and providing a new learning opportunity.

“The students will be able to collect data, and look at how much money we’re saving, but also how many kilowatts we’re producing,” King said.

To the students involved in the process, the project has been invaluable.

“It felt pretty empowering,” McRoy said. “We were just little kids, but we got a grant just by joining together to be able to do a cool thing for the environment and keep this school nice the way it is.”

The school is hoping the panels can be installed by the end of this school year. With all summer in the sun, the panels can start storing up energy for classes this Fall.

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