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Spartans Showcase Bright Solution in Trenton

Spartans Showcase Bright Solution in Trenton
Posted on 01/31/2020
Spartans Showcase Bright Solution in Trenton

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As the nation celebrates Catholic Schools Week, Immaculata High School represented the Diocese of Metuchen at the State House in Trenton today, Monday, January 27, 2020. For their annual CSW program, the Archdiocese of Newark, Diocese of Camden, Diocese of Paterson, Diocese of Trenton, and Diocese of Metuchen invited their students to celebrate their school through a video presentation. This year’s theme is “Our Catholic Schools use STEM to Solve a School, Local Community, or Global Problem.”

This theme aligned perfectly with an initiative close to heart in the Immaculata community, the Solar Suitcase Project. Led by Engineering Teacher Al Kedersha and Campus Ministry Director Maureen Cote, the project celebrates five years of building and providing portable suitcase-sized solar generators to non-electrified or electricity deficient areas around the globe. Cote shared, “The suitcases have gone to schools in the Philippines and Tanzania, a seminary in Liberia and to Puerto Rico, following one of their recent hurricanes.”

Cote continued, saying “once the suitcases were in place, they were connected to solar panels on the roof of the facility, providing light and electrical outlets. Most of the locations had plenty of consistent sunlight during the day, but either totally lacked electricity or suffered from frequent, long lasting blackouts.” Kedersha added, “Through the lessons learned about engineering and solar power, our students were able to translate their learning about technology into a tangible problem solving vehicle that has transformed lives in immeasurable ways.”

Although halfway around the world, the Spartans continue to receive feedback about the difference their classroom lessons make on a global scale. “The schools on the remote islands of the Philippines, expressed immense gratitude that now they could incorporate technology in their education programs and were able to retain more qualified educators who could use technology to bring the world into the classrooms of the children,” Cote said. “They now could offer activities after school hours illuminated by safe lighting instead of candles or health-harming kerosene lamps.”

“Our students were touched and gratified by the knowledge that their efforts were going to help form the minds of children on the other side of the world to grow into adults with new opportunities available to them. When the students learned that one of the suitcases would be sent to a seminary, they expressed awe that because of reliable electricity, young men were going to be ordained sooner into the priesthood and so be able to spread the Word of God to more people, more quickly.”

Both Kedersha and Cote expressed that this project has enabled the the greater Immaculata community to see that they are truly blessed, to appreciate the electricity usually taken for granted, and to understand that what might be construed as simply a lesson in high school, can ultimately alter lives in untold ways. The program raises money through fundraisers including a hot chocolate sale during lunch periods called “Sips for Suitcases”, pancake breakfasts and “Solar Shares”; a card indicating that a donation toward a suitcase had been made in honor of someone. These fundraisers were supported by the entire school, not just those in the engineering class. Parents, grandparents and parishioners helped support this project, raising over $35,000 dollars and sending approximately 25 suitcases around the world.

Cote expressed, “The ripple effect of the gift of electricity to those who previously had none, will probably never be fully known, but what our students do know is that they have served the least of their brothers through the use of technology in a far-reaching, remarkable manner.”

To learn more about the Solar Suitcase Project, enjoy the video below.