West Orange High School receives $10,000 Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant

WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange High School has received a $10,000 Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant funded by the New Jersey Education Association.

“We are so pleased and thankful for the awarding of this grant from Sustainable Jersey Schools,” West Orange Superintendent of Schools Scott Cascone said. “Not only does it represent a vital alternate revenue stream, but, as importantly, these grants enable the district to engage students, staff and community partners in vital conservation work that benefits the community and represents a robust and authentic learning experience for our students.” 

The project, called “West Orange Innovations in Sustainability,” includes three different plans that students will complete in the high school’s environmental science, sustainable technologies, and technology and engineering courses. The innovative projects will challenge students to design and fabricate prototypes that will promote sustainability, and all Green Team members contributing to the success of the projects will earn points toward Sustainable School certification.

The “Artificial Floating Island” project will educate students on stormwater runoff and the problems with non–source-point pollution on water quality, which demonstrates the need for bioremediation. Environmental science students will test the water in Degnan Pond, located next to the high school, to determine the severity of pollution and to make recommendations to engineering students. The engineering students will then fabricate the islands in which to float plants, with the goal of reducing pollutants. The water would then be tested again to determine how much the pollutants were reduced and draw conclusions as to the effectiveness of the bioremediation. Students, staff and community members already received training on the benefits of floating islands, how they work and how to build them.

The “Futuristic Farming” project will address industrial agriculture, one of the largest environmental issues faced today. With the training they have received in vertical farming, environmental science students will design, build and maintain a scalable indoor farming operation. The goal is not only to educate students on industrial agriculture but to provide vegetables to the school’s culinary class, as well as underserved members of the community.

The “Solar Bus Shelter” project was the brainchild of two student-athletes enrolled in the school’s engineering and design course. With no sheltered location to charge their phones outside the high school at night, they designed a solar bus shelter prototype that was recognized by Assemblyman John McKeon and by a resolution from the New Jersey State Senate and General Assembly. With community collaboration and support, the high school was able to acquire an old NJ Transit bus shelter and to improve upon the original prototype. Students disassembled and cleaned the shelter, repaired it, and created vector graphics that include the school mascot, logo and a map of West Orange. Panel engraving has begun and will be completed during the 2021-22 school year. The Sustainable Jersey for Schools grant will provide the funds needed for the charging station, solar lighting, roofing materials and additional replacement panels.

“Each of these projects is a result of environmental problem solving amongst students across the science and engineering disciplines at WOHS,” supervisor of technology and engineering Ryan delGuercio said. “Students will continue to work closely with the West Orange community, which strengthens educational experience and quality of the final projects that we look forward to unveiling next school year.”

WOHS Principal Hayden Moore concluded, “Once again WOHS students are fortunate to partner with the community for unique real-world experiences that will promote environmental sustainability. I am proud of our students and for what they will accomplish.”