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Sununu helps Jennie Blake School celebrate upgrades



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Gov. Chris Sununu toured Jenny D. Blake School in Hill last week to look at energy improvements they made through a special grant for rural schools, then paused for a photo in their new LED-lit gym with student Liam Callahan, State Senator Bob Giuda, student Casey Bush and school principal Dr. Brian Connelly. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
June 20, 2019
HILL – Jenny D. Blake School is known for, among many things, its enthusiasm for history and the environment, and on Thursday, June 13, they were joined by Gov. Chris Sununu to cut the ribbon for the completion of their latest project that not only benefits the school's energy costs but the students as well.

Through a first time $100,000 grant offered by the New Hampshire Office of Strategic Initiatives, last fall the schools in rural communities throughout the state were asked to send in any requests they may have for energy initiatives in their school. Projects could vary from insulation to heating systems but the goal was for the proposals to be informative and complete in their presentation.

OSI's Deputy Director Joe Doiron said JDBS did just that. When the Executive Council met on Dec. 19 to review the final candidates, two students from JDBS were even on hand to promote their project.

Casey Bush and Liam Callahan were the two students from the school's Green Team who appeared before the council and governor with their proposal to install new LED lighting, upgrade control panels for the heating and air systems and install new thermostats in each room. They handily won the grant funding.

"They were well-spoken, informed and had a terrific plan and project proposal. The Scoring Committee said 'Hill' across the board when they heard from them and the Executive Council and Governor agreed," said Doiron. "They set the bar for other schools applying for this grant in the future."

The grant came with a 20-percent, in this case a $20,000 match contribution, so that the town would have a stake in the project, too, but that was no problem for Hill's School District.

"The projected energy savings over the ensuing years will be significant and will be several thousands of dollars, which will not have to be raised by taxes," said JDBS Principal Dr. Brian Connelly.

Connelly was also proud of the students who worked to earn the first-ever rural energy grant for schools in New Hampshire.

"This opportunity has helped us to reduce our carbon footprint at the same time as reducing energy costs, which helps everyone," he told the students and residents assembled on the front lawn. "It has also led to some great lessons on reducing, reusing and recycling, and thinking about different ways to be more green in the future. We may be a small rural school but we're making a difference in the lives of our students, their families and in our charming community."

He then thanked all who helped complete the project before its required deadline date.

Liam then thanked Keith McBrien and Energy Efficient Investments for their assistance in the project and said the students were very grateful for the new heat and air control panels.

"I've noticed that the temperature is much more comfortable for learning. All of this has helped the school be a better place," he said.

Casey said she was pleased to know that the improvements to JDBS will save energy and noted that the new lighting is brighter, more appealing and makes it easier for reading in the classrooms.

"Those lights have made a really big difference. Thank you," she said to both McBrien and the governor.

As Sununu stepped to the podium he told the assembly, "Right now, today, you guys are standing out like a shining star! Thank you to all who were involved, all who made this a huge success."

Asked to cut a ribbon in front of the new energy-efficient building, Sununu said he didn't want to do it alone. He invited the entire student population to join him for the event, as well as State Sen. Bob Giuda who also on hand to applaud their achievements.

While he was at the school the governor asked if he could see first hand all that the money he approved had been used for and was impressed as children in each class told him how much it mattered to their learning. Classrooms were brighter, halls were softly but efficiently illuminated and the gym and cafeteria lights were greatly improved. He learned there was also new insulation in the attic and even remote notification and access to temperature control for the maintenance team even if they weren't in the building.

During his tour the governor assured Connelly, Liam, Casey and the school's maintenance staff that with his degree in Environmental Engineering he takes environmental improvements very seriously and appreciated all they had not only proposed but had accomplished at JDBS.

"You earned this. You put technology in your school that other schools are now going to look to. Good job!" Sununu said.

Martin Lord Osman
Tiffany Eddy
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