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Deering High School students present solar panel initiative

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Deering High School students present solar panel initiative

FALMOUTH — Students from Deering High School in Portland are working to save their school money and do their part to reduce global warming and the country's dependence on foreign energy.

At a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 at the Gilsland Farm Audubon Center, several students from the Environmental Club presented a student initiative to donate solar panels to their school.

"We wanted to do something truly meaningful and leave a legacy for future students," Deering High School senior Faye Perry said.

Perry spoke to a crowd gathered on the sunny back patio of Maine Audubon Society's education center about the efforts of the classes of 2010-2013 to raise money to purchase the solar panels. Each class will donate the funds they raise, pooling their resources in an effort to make their school more green.

"I realize I'm preaching to the choir, and this group of people has realized the shape that the world has fallen into, but there are still people out there who need a wake-up call," Perry said. "The youth of Maine hope that we can be that wake-up call."

The high school students also collected 1,100 signatures to show support for a Climate Change Declaration, which they dropped off at the offices of U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

"We can learn a lot from these students," said Sierra Club volunteer Bob Wuerthner, who also spoke at the event. He urged citizens to call their representatives in support of clean energy legislation.

"The Senate is expected to introduce draft clean energy and climate legislation," Wuerthner said. "We hope that Sens. Snowe and Collins will listen to Mainers and support a strong clean energy bill."

Maine Audubon Executive Director Ted Koffman emphasized the work Maine has already done at improving the environment.

"Forty years ago, many of our magnificent rivers were little more than open cesspools for industrial waste," Koffman said, citing work by former Sens. Edmund Muskie and George Mitchell to support clean water and clean air initiatives in the past.

"We Mainers can be proud that our nation's environmental legacy owes such a debt to our homegrown senators," Koffman said.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net