Maybe the sun shone a little more brightly over Erma B. Reese Elementary School on Tuesday, as the class that won the inaugural Solar Schoolhouse Olympics finally received its due: a 1 kilowatt solar panel to be hooked up to the school's electrical system this summer.
At Reese, students built solar-powered balsa wood cars and model houses and created comics and T-shirt designs.
The Solar Olympics is a competition among Lodi students from all grade levels who create solar-powered items using a curriculum plan by the Martinez-based Rahus Institute, which focuses on renewable energy issues.
Wearing green T-shirts with the Solar Schoolhouse logo, and tan "Solar Olympics" T-shirts, sixth-graders (who were fourth-graders when they won), applauded Keith Jacinto for teaching them about the uses of solar energy.
The celebration, held at the basketball court, was also attended by parents and other science teachers. Following the presentations there was a ceremonial groundbreaking.
"Mr. Jacinto's class has become a cornerstone of the Solar Olympics," said Tor Allen, Rahus Institute executive director.
Allen presented a plaque bearing Jacinto's name with the names of his 31 students, and a Solar Schoolhouse denim shirt. Jacinto has been a teacher for 34 years, 28 of them at Reese.
The 18-panel solar array could power 25 to 50 percent of a typical home's energy in a year, said Allen.
"We are excited to have this addition to our school," said principal Celeste Bordner.
Jay Bell, Lodi Unified School District science curriculum specialist, thanked Jacinto and his wife Maurie, a teacher at Victor Elementary School, for their involvement since the event's inception.
The 2004 Solar Olympics was the first to be held in California. About 300 Lodi students from 10 schools participated this year. The event is sponsored here by Lodi Electric Utility. For more information, visit http://www.solarschoolhouse.org.
First published: Wednesday, June 14, 2006