Sofia Low, left, Delilah Maisonneuve, Madi Hickey, Alayna Black, and Maya Wilch, Departure Bay Eco-School students, will turn down the temperature and wear sweaters on Feb. 4, National Sweater Day. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo students will don sweaters next week as part of energy-saving challenge

Departure Bay Eco-School's green energy team challenges other classes on National Sweater Day

Students at Departure Bay Eco-School hope to pressure their peers in Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district to “be cool” next week.

Sofia Low, Delilah Maisonneuve, Madi Hickey, Alayna Black and Maya Wilch, members of the school’s green energy team, will turn down the heat by three degrees on Feb. 4, National Sweater Day, and wear the long-sleeved knitted garments in an effort to raise awareness about climate change and promote energy conservation. They hope other schools do the same.

“It’s what we’ve been doing for a couple of years now … [to] save the climate,” said Maisonneuve.

“Global temperatures are rising and we decided to turn down the heat to preserve energy,” said Hickey.

In the past, the school would challenge individual schools, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, the team wasn’t able to make presentations to other schools, so it was decided to challenge the entire district, said Annette Noble, school principal. It is part of the annual district-wide Energy Cup challenge, she said.

The school has a focus on the environment and Noble said the sweater challenge plays right into the curriculum and the school’s three main focus areas.

“One of them is nature-based outdoor learning,” said Noble. “The other is energy conservation and the third is waste management and so this fits in with our energy conservation, understanding a little bit more about climate change … we always participate in the Energy Cup and that really focuses our efforts on turning lights off, power off especially anything that is pulling ‘phantom power.’ Just being really conscious of the energy that we’re using.”

There is also a fundraising component to the challenge, done within the school. The winning class will decide which animal the school adopts and the team says the Vancouver Island marmot is one of the species being considered. Koala bears were adopted last year, through the World Wildlife Federation, after the animals saw their Australian habitat destroyed in wildfires.

As of Friday, 10 schools had accepted the challenge.

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