Leaving My High School—and the Earth—in Good Hands

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By Gillian Stoutt, senior at Assumption High School in Louisville, Kentucky

I come from a small town where environmental concerns are a foreign concept. In fifth grade, I asked a teacher where the recycling bin was, and she was just as confused as to why I’d ask, as I was as to why there wasn’t a bin. It’s not that people don’t care, but there’s a lack of education on the importance of protecting the earth. I, on the other hand, have advocated protecting creation since I was a kid. Seriously, I’ve wanted to protect the Earth since before I had a concept of why I should want to protect the Earth. You can ask my mom.

Needless to say, when I transferred to Assumption High School, I was blown away and ecstatic at the amount of dedication put into keeping the school environmentally friendly. There’s a recycling bin (sometimes two!) in every classroom, and a whole committee dedicated to making the school a more environmentally friendly place.

From my experience, that seems like a lot already, but that’s not even close to the full extent of the efforts that Assumption has put into working to be greener. In fact, many of the efforts go largely unnoticed by most of the student body because of the subtle ways they are implemented.

For example, the LED lights that the school uses have contributed to the 2018–2019 school year having the lowest electricity usage in the 10 years Assumption has kept record. I am going to be honest, the difference in lighting between traditional and LED bulbs is so subtle that I didn’t even realize we had LED bulbs until recently. The LED lights we use consume 1/3 of the energy of regular bulbs and they last a lot longer, too.

But wait, there’s more! The LED bulbs contain no mercury or other dangerous elements, reduce fire risk and produce minimal heat, which contributes to lower air-conditioning costs. Speaking of which, Assumption has also begun to control the heating, cooling and ventilation (HVAC) systems. Any time an area is not in use, the mechanical systems are shut down. Both changes have contributed greatly to our reduction of electricity, yet an outsider would not be able to pinpoint any visible change. This just goes to show you that it’s easy to make a difference with out anyone noticing.

Perhaps the school’s biggest change (and my favorite), though, is the installation of solar panels. Between fundraising and a gift from the Sisters of Mercy, Assumption was able to purchase a 3-kw array for the school. We still don’t have as many as we need, but this one small step has been a huge leap toward the school’s goal of using more sustainable energy.

I am constantly impressed with Assumption’s desire to advocate for creation. It is really the sheer determination of teachers and the student body to be heard that allows us to make progress. I am proud to be part of a school that is so forward thinking. I am a senior now, so I won’t be able to help create a greener Assumption for much longer, but I know my classmates and teachers will continue to act. I will leave Assumption not just knowing that it is good hands, but also knowing that the stewards of the school, community and world have left an impression on me. Assumption High School’s concern for the environment will go wherever I go, and I will use that gift to act. Each step Assumption takes, takes our ideas further out into the world.

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