North Raleigh News

Wake Electric awards $15,000 for Raleigh school projects

Arlen Gorrell, a fourth-grader at York Elementary School in Raleigh, works with an electrical kit to build a holiday decoration. The school received $3,000 from the Wake Electric Bright Ideas grant program to buy the kits.
Arlen Gorrell, a fourth-grader at York Elementary School in Raleigh, works with an electrical kit to build a holiday decoration. The school received $3,000 from the Wake Electric Bright Ideas grant program to buy the kits. mhankerson@newsobserver.com

Some fourth-graders at York Elementary School learned how to build an electrical circuit while they also learned about a foreign holiday tradition.

The students made a traditional Swedish holiday crown, and they planned to attach small LED lights to it.

“We thought it would look good as a candle,” said student Clementine Goff.

Students will learn similar skills at a new makerspace at Jeffreys Grove Elementary School. At Stough Elementary, students learning English will publish their own books using special technology.

These are just some of the projects in Raleigh schools recently funded through Wake Electric’s Bright Ideas grant program. The money is used to support projects that aren’t covered in school budgets.

“They’re projects (teachers) don’t have to do, but they want to do it for the students,” said Angela Perez, spokeswoman for Wake Electric, a power co-op based in Wake Forest.

The company serves 40,000 customers in Wake, Nash, Johnston, Vance, Franklin, Durham and Granville counties. Customers help fund the school grant program if they opt to round their bill payments up to the nearest dollar.

This year, Wake County schools received $24,992. About $15,000 of that went to six Raleigh schools:

▪ York Elementary received $3,000 to buy small kits that help students build electrical projects.

▪ Stough Elementary received about $1,300 for technology that helps create storybooks.

▪ Jeffreys Grove Elementary received nearly $3,000 for an initiative to help students make global connections.

▪ Brassfield Elementary received about $2,100 for a sensory room for students with disabilities.

▪ Fuller Elementary received about $3,000 to buy science lab equipment.

▪ Broughton High School received $2,700 to buy supplies for a service learning class for Oak City Outreach, which serves homeless people.

At York Elementary, students have already completed several projects with their grant-funded materials. Students created an original ride for the State Fair, said Meg Osterhoff, York’s STEM coordinator.

They also made hand buzzers that activate when two people shake hands. Student Kaydee Higginbotham said that was her favorite project.

“I like how you can add a bunch of different things with (the kits),” she said.

Other projects supplement instruction and also give students a comfortable place to work.

“A sensory area (at Brassfield) will provide a safe environment to support development of skills and encourage effective communication for our student in and beyond the classroom,” said Melina Fernandez, a special education teacher assistant at the school.

The projects show the range of work Wake Electric wants to support, Perez said. Although the co-op likes to see science and energy-based projects, any project is considered.

“It’s one of the biggest ways we can demonstrate a commitment to community,” Perez said.

Mechelle Hankerson: 919-829-4802, @mechelleh

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