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Greenhouse, Windmill for SMBA

By Karla Kelly

FOR THE DIGBY COURIER

NovaNewsNow.com

Published on March 19, 2009

St. Mary’s Bay Academy in St. Bernard has embarked on an ambitious ‘green’ project that will see a greenhouse built this spring behind the school.

Construction is planned to start April 1, with the first phase being completed by June 30.

In this initial phase a secured weather-tight structure complete with Plexiglas on three sides will be erected on a slab that will contain geothermal in-floor heating. The 18 by 40-foot building will be separate from the school.

Students in the Options and Opportunities program, known as O2, will work in partnership with the construction technology class and teachers Arthur Hatt and Earle Manzer to erect the year-round greenhouse for use by science, biology, chemistry and global studies classes.

Greenhouse produce will supplement the menu at the cafeteria, said Manzer, and flowers will be used for the school’s beautification and other functions requiring floral arrangements.

Along with Hatt and Manzer, skilled trades people such as carpenters, plumbers and electricians will demonstrate and guide students through the construction process.

Since students will actually complete a large percentage of the greenhouse they will also receive safety training and the necessary equipment required on a construction site.

The three-year Options and Opportunities course was introduced to SMBA this year, said Hatt. “O2 provides community learning experiences and workplace opportunities while they are still in the school system. O2 exposes students to skilled trades along with new and developing technologies,” he said. “It is designed to help them make successful transitions from high school to work, a career path or a post-secondary program.”

Hatt said his initial idea was to build a windmill but a discussion with construction technology teacher Earle Manzer a month ago expanded that idea. “We decided the two classes could work in partnership to build a greenhouse powered by a windmill,” said Manzer. “The interior of the greenhouse, solar panels and the addition of a small windmill will be phase two of the project to be completed next year.”

Once the feasibility study is completed, the school also hopes to implement a composting program to feed the greenhouse.

Over March break, an engineer will complete a blueprint of the sketches that will then be presented to the school board for final approval.

Manzer said the project is sponsored by a WORKIT Grant as well as the school board in conjunction with the province’s education department. “We are anticipating money from various levels of government and their agencies,” he said. “Some funding has already been made available and this will help get the project off the ground.”

Hatt said the O2 students have been present and involved in the planning process and have gained an understanding in accessing funds.

Members of the O2 class have already visited a small local windmill operation and expressed their excitement about the upcoming project. “Once everything is completed, the O2 students will maintain operations under the direction of a maintenance technician,” said Manzer.

Both teachers said the entire project is an ambitious undertaking and has received a great deal of support from school staff. “To our knowledge this entire project is unique to any school in the province and will have a long-term impact on the school and community as well,” said Hatt.

           

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