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Solar for Students: Abingdon Elementary in Gloucester County gets solar powered

Abingdon Elementary is now part of Dominion Energy's "Solar for Students" program teaching students how sunlight is converted into electric power.

GLOUCESTER COUNTY, Va. — Solar energy is a lesson that gets these Abingdon Elementary School in Gloucester County students fired up.

“As soon as I figured it, I’m like, 'Wow, that’s insane,'” said fifth-grader Cash Brown.

Cash takes part in the school’s nature club and recently learned about solar power.

“The sun, it just shines to us and… it’s like the solar panel grabs it and lights our school up,” he explained.

Now, a new system will allow them to learn beyond the textbook. Tuesday morning, they cut the ribbon on a solar panel outside Abingdon Elementary. Kathy Autrey, a first-grade teacher at the school, said including the solar panel in lesson plans enhances the school’s curriculum.

“Compare how much solar energy is provided on a sunny day compared to a cloudy day is very educational,” she said.

Autrey worked to get the solar panel installed at the school through Dominion Energy’s Solar for Students program.

“We’re developing solar facilities all across the state and we want the younger generation of children, the future project managers, future engineers to learn and be excited as we are,” said Tim Eberly with Dominion Energy.

The program is a partnership with Dominion Energy and the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project. Through the program, small solar systems are installed at participating elementary schools in Virginia and other states to teach children about solar energy. 

The program was created in 2015. It now includes 41 schools plus a museum and an education center. Autrey hopes this program will encourage students to pursue careers in this field.

“Then, they’re inspired to make the world a better place and a greener place," Autrey said.

Abingdon Elementary School is the first of six Virginia schools to receive a solar panel from the program this year.

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