Environmental Club Sheds Light on Solar Power

The Solar Panel Initiative Makes Green Level a Little Greener


Victoria Plant

Sophomore Taylor Hill tabling at a Green Level football game.

Last February, student Victoria Plant applied for a 42,000 dollar grant to install solar panels at Green Level High School. Her application got approved in late April.

“I remember opening the email, and I squealed…” Plant reminisces. “Then we were just waiting on the county to approve [the panels].”

Wake County authorized the grant over the summer, but even getting to that point was difficult; there were many intricacies behind applying. Green Level’s Environmental Club spent hours researching the school’s capacity for solar energy and the mechanics behind the panels., which contribute 3-4 kilowatts to the school’s energy supply. That’s enough to power a space like the gym or office.

“It was very anxiety-ridden, waiting for all the signatures and approvals… we really had to go with the flow.”

— Isabella Moreno

Plant is a senior and stands as the current President of Green Level’s Environmental Club. She and the club have worked tirelessly to raise the 12,000 additional dollars needed for the panel installation. They’re only about 4,000 dollars away from meeting their goal. 

Fundraising has proved a unique challenge for the students. Since GLHS clubs can’t technically collect money, Environmental Club embraced every strategic loophole they could find.

“I remember one of the first steps was reaching out to athletics,” shares sophomore Taylor Hill. “They don’t necessarily sponsor us, but they were one of the first ways we began fundraising.”

Environmental Club fundraised at football games, gave announcements over the speakers, reached out for sponsorships, and partnered with the PTSA to raise money. Social media was a crucial ally; the club even has a Linktree that goes to the fundraising page directly. And when they aren’t online, you can catch the students at school events, walking around with posters on meter sticks to connect with donors in person. 

“It was a little nerve-wracking at the beginning because we didn’t want to be ‘too much.’ We wanted to be resourceful and informative, but not too much that it was a full-on presentation every time we talked,” says junior Isabella Moreno.

At first, donations flew in, but they slowed down as the year progressed. However, Environmental Club is still getting big chunks of money every so often; currently, that money is coming from their Elf Gram initiative. The students are acting as Green Level’s personal elf assembly line, spending their meetings constructing Elf Grams with candy for friends or teachers. Bags can be bought at lunch or online through Thursday. They sell at 2 dollars each (or 3 for 5 dollars) and have been very well received so far. In just a few days, the Environmental Club has sold over 200 bags–propelling their goal even closer to completion.

I think many people seeing us think ‘Oh, it takes forever,’ and yes, it’s hard, but it’s still possible.

— Taylor Hill

The panels last for around 20 years and save hundreds of dollars annually.

“For all the NC Green Power solar schools, it’s been a total of 68400 dollars in electricity expenses saved since 2016,” says Moreno.

But the panels stand for more than just financial practicality; they’re a symbol of hope for the future. In a world overrun with negative news and disheartening media, the panels will be a tangible sign to educate the next generation of students about climate change while also standing as a testament to student accomplishments. Since the panels would be on the ground (Green Level’s roof isn’t built properly for them to be above), everyone will see Environmental Club’s hard work. 

“That’s the biggest thing, ” says Hill. “It’s inspiring other classes. Students did that! We had a lot of support from adults, but it was definitely a teenage-led initiative.”

The solar panel initiative is proof that students can make a difference. Plant, Hill, Moreno, and the rest of their club members show incredible dedication and passion for their cause. Environmental Club’s relentless effort has contributed to months of hard work, and that work will manifest when their efforts pay off. Thanks to them, Green Level is one step closer to being truly green.