Science department teacher Claude Gonzalez sits in his new classroom in the science wing. Gonzalez believes CCHS is setting a positive example for its students by becoming more eco-friendly. “If you go and you have an environmentally friendly school, kids in turn will go home and behave in a more environmentally friendly manner,” Gonzalez said. Photo by Julie Alpaugh.
By ANA ALDRIDGE – Print News Editor
Clarke Central High School “goes green” with new, ecologically-friendly features incorporated in the building’s renovation.
As Clarke Central High School’s 2016-17 fall semester proceeds, its two-and-a-half year renovation nears its end. The renovation came with an increase in environmental commodities to be found across campus.
According to Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax Project (SPLOST) Manager Joe Dunagan, automatic lights and air conditioning were added to the building.
“All the lights are automatic. They have motion detectors, as does the air conditioning,” Dunagan said. “When you go out of the room and the lights go off, the air conditioning lowers. It has set points. It doesn’t need to get 90 degrees in the room, but it’ll warm up to 76 and then it’ll come down. It’s an energy saver, particularly on the weekends.”
CCHS Principal Marie Yuran says everything in the school is more energy efficient than it was prior to the renovation, including the toilets.
“I don’t know if you tried to flush a toilet here yet, but it’s a low flow toilet. Someone complained about this, that they had to flush two or three times. Well that’s designed purposely that way,” Yuran said. “Certainly everything we have here is more energy efficient.”
Junior Preston Harden believes it is important for the building to conserve the natural resources it uses.
“(Light and water) are both really important resources that we have a limited amount of. Not only with our budget within the school, but also overall within the planet,” Harden said. “Conserving these resources that aren’t really renewable (is important), especially if we’re getting them through nonrenewable sources.”
“Someone complained about (the new low-flow toilets), that they had to flush two or three times. Well, that’s designed purposely that way. Certainly everything we have here is more energy efficient.”
– Principal Marie Yuran
The renovation also included the addition of two bioretention ponds which filter runoff water from the school parking lots, therefore protecting Georgia waters from pollution.
“(The bioretention ponds take) all the water that comes off of the parking lot where you have gas and oil, and it runs through a pond that has got a filter in it of sand, mulch and it has plants in it that survive and it filters the gas and oil to keep it from moving into the Georgia waters,” Dunagan said. “Two ponds cost $48,000 apiece.”
Science department teacher Claude Gonzalez expects CCHS’ bioretention ponds to develop in a similar way to the ponds at Cedar Shoals High School.
“When I was working in the district office as the science coordinator, I worked with these people at (CSHS) and their (bioretention pond) was really nice. It stays wet most of the year, so there’s always a pond there and critters living there. So in the next couple of years, that’s gonna go big time (at CCHS),” Gonzalez said.
“Being high school students, we’re the new generation, and if we have this ingrained in our society and culture, we can pass it on to the next generation.”
– Junior Preston Harden
According to Dunagan, the air quality of the school has also improved due to a new system of fresh air makeup that was implemented during the construction process.
“This school never had fresh air makeup. Fresh air makeup is when you’re bringing in outside air and you’re keeping the carbon monoxide level down, and the carbon dioxide level down. We’re changing air, and there’s two big units sittin’ up on top of the roof, and they’re changing the air two and a half times an hour,” Dunagan said.
Gonzalez believes CCHS is setting a positive example for its students by becoming more eco-friendly.
“Our job here is to teach children. You teach children by example, not by dictation. So if you go and you have an environmentally friendly school, kids in turn will go home and behave in a more environmentally friendly manner,” Gonzalez said.
Like Gonzalez, Harden feels it is necessary for young people to learn environmentally friendly habits that they can carry with them through their adult lives.
“I think that if you start (conserving resources) at a younger age, when you go throughout (life) you’re going to be able to take that knowledge and work it into your daily life so that at the end of your (life) you end up making less of a (negative) impact on the planet,” Harden said. “Being high school students, we’re the new generation, and if we have this ingrained in our society and culture, we can pass it on to the next generation.”