Weekly roundup: Solar panels in Capistrano Unified, high school commencements, celebrity guests, and more

Driven by environmentally-conscious students, the Capistrano Unified School District is installing solar panels at all six of its high schools.

Title for "In the news"The solar deployment, which kicked off at San Juan Hills High School, is expected to save the district about $21 million over the next 25 years.

According to this report in the Orange County Register, students in environmental clubs first approached Capo’s Board of Education in 2017 and suggested adding solar panels. The board then directed staff to research the costs and financing — and asked that students be involved throughout the process.

“The board wanted the kids to have the experience of taking it through the actual installation,” spokesman Ryan Burris told the newspaper.

Capo joins a number of OC districts that are now harnessing the sun’s rays with large photovoltaic tiles, including Irvine Unified, which began installing rooftop panels and vehicle shade structures in 2010.

As we mentioned, San Juan Hills High was the first to flip the solar switch in Capo. Its installation alone is expected to generate 1.5 megawatts of power each year, or roughly 80 percent of that campus’ energy needs.

And here are some other stories that caught our attention this week:

  • During a graduation ceremony last week, actor Edward James Olmos inspired Santa Ana High School’s class of 2019 to be persistent and embrace self-discipline. Olmos, whose roles include teacher James Escalante in “Stand and Deliver,” helped launch the Youth Cinema Project at Santa Ana High in 2014.
  • Speaking of celebrity guests, pro football players from the Los Angeles Chargers paid a visit to Warner Middle School in Westminster this week in support of their Character Playbook. Developed in partnership with the Orange County United Way, the program encourages students to make healthy choices and build positive relationships.
  • Last month, high schools in Garden Grove Unified staged College Signing Day events, celebrating their college-bound seniors with music, cake, student performances and photo stations, where the soon-to-be-grads posed with signs displaying their future alma maters.
  • More than 60 Disney VoluntEARS recently gathered over at Rancho Soñado, the home base of OCDE’s Inside the Outdoors environmental education program, to restore hiking trails, refurbish propagation areas, make seed balls and create science kits. And when they were finished, there was a pretty big reveal.
  • Students from eight schools representing five districts and three counties recently battled for air superiority in the Orange Unified School District’s annual iInspire Drone Invitational.
  • About 30 students attended a gender empowerment summit hosted by Newport Harbor High School’s Inclusion Council. The event was billed as a day of education, affirmation and celebration of all genders and identities.

This is the part where we encourage you to keep up with local education news stories by bookmarking the OCDE Newsroomsubscribing for emailed updates or following us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.