“He talked about how young students could stand up and be leaders in ameliorating climate change,” recalled Vivian, who decided to take action. In November 2016, she and her family proposed the Panda Solar Project. That the MHS campus was also undergoing the addition of two new buildings further convinced Vivian that the time was right for action. Conversations with Head of School Julia Heaton, Director of Development and Alumnae Relations, Director of Campus Services Robert Aldrich, and Director of Horizons Alison Basdekis followed, as did meetings with potential vendors. Berkshire Photovoltaic Services, of nearby Adams, was ultimately chosen to install the array.
Much of Vivan’s Horizons work this year has been monitoring the project’s progress. Additionally, she sat in on meetings in the fall about how best to introduce elements of the project into the classroom. For example, students can calculate how to set the optimal angles for the panels, which they will also be able to adjust. The weather station atop Linn Hall will allow them to monitor optimal conditions for electricity production, and they will also have access to real-time data on the installation’s performance.
Vivian has also presented to sophomore Horizons students on the project and the benefits of solar energy, and she has monitored the project’s permitting process and the installation of various components. “The challenging thing for me has been to just be persistent and to keep communicating, because it takes a while to do something like this,” she said. “We hope this project will bring long-term benefits to MHS, not only through building the system, but also using it as a path to promote a greener future for students and the School.”