Simsbury High Students Greeted By Familiar Faces, New Technology On First Day

On a chilly gray Wednesday morning, 1,400 students returned for the 2017-18 school year at Simsbury High School.

Walking through the hallways, occasionally pausing to greet students, Principal Andrew O'Brien acknowledged the uncertainty surrounding the state budget but said all faculty, staff and administrators remain committed to students.

"We can't let the budget difficulties interfere with the work we do. It's too important," O'Brien said. "They're our future. They deserve the same high school experience all the students before them had."

O'Brien stood at the school's bus entrance with other administrators, wishing students a great first day as they filed off their buses and into the school before the first bell at 7:32 a.m. In addition to their backpacks, many carried other items like instrument cases, sports equipment, textbooks and drawstring bags.

O'Brien said the 2017-18 year brings new initiatives to Simsbury High School, including a new STEM laboratory and a 15-kilowatt rooftop solar array that will not only offset some electricity costs, but provide educational opportunities to students.

"This is another opportunity to leverage technology to enhance learning for our students," O'Brien said. "We see this as something that will benefit science, technology, math classes, et cetera."

The town's clean energy task force started earning credits toward a solar array in 2008.

The array was completed with a $40,500 state grant and an additional $17,600 from the board of education. It is expected to generate 17,800 kilowatts of electricity annually, a value of over $2,600 per year.

O'Brien said the school is working with district officials to develop concrete plans as to how to incorporate the array into the curriculum. Burke LaClair, business manager for the district, said there is also an idea being floated to install a monitor where the public can view data from the array.

"This is the first school in the district to use solar and we hope to keep working with the town to find additional areas in our schools where it makes sense," LaClair said.

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