Oxford Academy has finished its installation of 186 solar panels, which is only one of the many steps toward a more sustainable future. Having this many solar panels atop of the Knight Hall building allows it to generate enough electricity to offset the electrical usage for that entire structure. This is the school’s main building, which includes all of the classrooms, the library, and the entire gymnasium wing. Along with the solar panels, the school has implemented many other initiatives to help the environment and teach the students about sustainability, such as a recycling club, maple sugaring, apiculture, community gardens, hydroponics, and trout in the classroom. “When I first became head of school 11 years ago, sustainability wasn’t such a mainstream conversation, at least around here, but it was something we knew that was important; we wanted our boys to understand what it meant to be positive members of society and to help the earth,” said Oxford Academy Head Phil Cocchiola. “We did a lot of things on a small scale, which is good, but we wanted to do something more robust and more substantial that would have a greater impact. So I started reaching out to solar companies eight or nine years ago.”
The installation of 186 solar panels on campus generates 80,000 kWh of electricity, which is equivalent to planting 1,510 trees a year. Over the 30 year life of the system this would amount to planting 45,300 trees.
The students are heavily involved in the vast array of projects going on at the school. During the winter the science classes all come together and start the harvesting of maple syrup for the entire community to enjoy. They also take care of the multiple bee colonies and help produce honey that is shared by everyone on campus.
Cocchiola said “the common thread is that each was made possible by two things: passionate people and incredible support…This is hopefully just the beginning.”