$2,500 Winner:
Fayette Elementary School

It has been an exciting year so far for The Conservation Caper and Energy Agents programs from Duke Energy and The National Theatre for Children (NTC). So far, over 1,000 schools are participating, over 500,000 students and teachers have enjoyed our live in-school performances, schools have cumulatively earned over $85,000 in cash rewards, and best of all: educators have empowered their students to make a difference.

Among the hundreds of schools that took the My Energy Kit Challenge last fall, one school went above and beyond the challenge to save 20,000 kilowatt-hours of energy. On January 1, NTC awarded the first school grand prize of $2,500 to the top energy-saving school: Fayette Elementary School in West Terre Haute, Indiana. The school reached a whopping 756 Energy Kit requests from their families, staff, faculty and community, and together saved over 150,000 kWh of energy. WOW!

On January 27, 2017, Rick Burger from Duke Energy and actors Kali McMillian and Evan Jackson from NTC visited the school to present the grand prize and thank the school for their efforts. We also had the chance to ask the school’s principal, Dr. Janel Bonomo, to reflect on their achievement.

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L-R: Rick Burger from Duke Energy, Kali McMillian and Evan Jackson from NTC, Dr. Janel Bonomo and Kindergarten Teacher Lori Kastigar

NTC: What’s your reaction to winning the My Energy Kit $2,500 school grand prize?

Principal Bonomo: Our school was thrilled to find out that we had won the $2,500 grand prize! At Fayette Elementary, our children, teachers and families always work hard together in order to achieve a common goal. It also does not hurt that we have teachers, staff and students who have a competitive nature! We are a very small school and to know that we competed with 1,000 schools that most likely all have a larger student body population than we do was amazing.

NTC: How did you encourage your school’s families and staff to sign up for their free Energy Kits?

Principal Bonomo: Our teachers and staff did a wonderful job of constantly reminding the students and families of the task at hand. Our Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Lori Kastigar led the other teachers and staff with weekly updates via email, texts, Facebook and classroom newsletters. These updates kept our minds on the goal. Each time we would increase our amount of kits requested we would reach out to the families and community again to encourage them. The incentive to reach another 100 kits was the driving force. Each time we would make it over the halfway mark to another hundred kits requested, people would jump on board in order for us to hit the 100 mark!

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Fayette Elementary displays “Thank You” posters at their award ceremony

NTC: What were your students’ favorite parts about The Conservation Caper?

Principal Bonomo: The Conservation Caper was an excellent medium in order to explain the importance of and how to conserve energy. It was a program that not only entertained, but informed all grades and ages—kindergarten through adult! We are excited to partner this experience with our 5th grade field trip that was designed around conservation! The timing of the program landed during the time of the field trip experience. Our 5th grade curriculum was enhanced by this program as well!

NTC: What do you think you’ll do with your prize money?

Principal Bonomo: We are not sure at this time what we will do with the prize money. NTC has encouraged us to put it towards the science field or STEM programs. Our school and corporation are very blessed with many resources, yet there is always room for technology based resources in the ever-changing, technological world that we live in. Therefore, our decision, whatever it may be—will enhance the learning of all children at Fayette Elementary and may have a technology based theme!

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Dr. Bonomo and Administrative Assistant Mrs. Kathy Morris display My Energy Kit flyers and their My Energy Kit Challenge Champion certificate

NTC: Are your students excited to see the energy they’ve saved?

Principal Bonomo: Many students and families were excited to get their kits in the mail and discover how easy it is to make a few simple changes in order to save significant amount of energy! I do not feel that our younger students can grasp the magnitude of how we have saved kilowatt-hours, yet they know what they have done is important! We constantly save energy within our school by always turning off lights when leaving a room and our automatic sinks do not allow water to run while washing hands. Our efforts to conserve costs are two fold because they also save energy! We are thankful for and appreciative of the Vigo County School Corporation and the leaders in our central office for paving the way for energy conservation, conservation education and their support for our participation in this program!

NTC: Would you recommend this program to other schools?

Principal Bonomo: I would DEFINITELY recommend this program to others schools! It is a win-win for all involved. We have taught our students the importance of conserving, how to conserve, how to work toward a common goal, reaching the goal and celebrating the win! We are helping our world by conserving, we are helping our community by promoting the kits, we are helping our school by winning the money and we are helping ourselves by supporting our education curriculum and character education! Thank you for the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful program! It has been a phenomenal experience.

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Dr. Daniel Tanoos, Superintendent of the Vigo County School Corporation, Dr. Bonomo, Actors Kali and Evan, Mrs. Kastigar, Rick Burger, and the students of Fayette Elementary School

From all of us at Duke Energy and NTC, we want to thank Fayette Elementary School for their efforts and for instilling the values of energy conservation in their children. And to all of you families and educators out there reading this and participating in this program: THANK YOU! We are proud to offer you this program and work together to make a positive impact on our planet.