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Farnsworth Seventh Graders Find Value in Turning Off Lights

Looking to make a difference in their school both economically and environmentally are the Light Busters.

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Members of Farnsworth Middle School's Light Buster extracurricular group
gather to spread the word that turning off lights can save money and energy.

The group, which just began in October, has already saved the school $338 in the month of November.

Comprised of Farnsworth Middle School seventh grade students who maintain a "B" or higher average, Light Busters is an extracurricular organization that is trying to cut down on excess energy usage inside their school. The mission of Light Busters is to save wasted energy and to encourage students to be more conscience of their environment.

"It teaches us to save energy when we are not in our rooms," said Josh Karst, seventh grader.

Throughout the month each of the 32 Light Buster members follow a schedule during each day of the week that identifies the specific times and areas in the school that should be checked.

"Students are looking to see if there is a light on in a classroom when there are no teachers or students," said Jeff Kainz, seventh grade science teacher and Light Busters advisor.

If the light is on but the classroom is empty, then the student will turn off the light and place a note on the light switch.

"It notifies you that there were no students or staff members in the room and the lights were on," said Kainz. "The staff has responded really well to it and there are a lot of lights being turned off when classrooms are not in use. For safety and security there are some places that are off limits, like offices, halls and restrooms."

In order to be allowed to leave class to walk the designated hallways, a Light Buster student must be in good standing in that particular classroom and must prove he/she is responsible. The student then heads directly to Kainz's classroom where they get a yellow Light Busters t-shirt, which doubles as a hall pass. The student then walks the designated area, completes a log of lit and unlit classrooms, and then returns the log and shirt to Kainz before returning to their classroom.

"The goal is to not have them out of their class too long, and most often they walk through the hall quickly and go right back to class. The entire staff has been supportive of the group," said Kainz.

The program is raising energy awareness in students and staff.

"It helps kids become more aware of how they can save the environment," said seventh grader Briana Wojcik.

Seventh grader Nick Balma agrees, "It helps me know that the world is saving energy."

Kainz generated the idea after thinking about how he could make saving energy not just a benefit for the school's bottom dollar, but also for the students.

"What I have found is that a lot of students have transferred these energy-saving efforts to their own homes," said Kainz.

Light Busters meets once a month to discuss energy usage and compile and compare data to notice changes in light patterns.

We save wasted money so that we could spend it in other ways," one seventh grader said.

It took time to walk around the school and identify where students should walk and at what times, but the time invested seems to be well worth it.

Sheboygan Area School District Press Release
December 16, 2008